As someone who depends heavily on public transit to get around, Translink is a godsend. Sure we all have our pet peeves, and some of us may have a beef to pick with them. But if there's one thing they do right it's how they utilize social media. For Translink, using social media (Twitter in particular) as a customer service tool has worked well. Wait for it.
Wait for it.
They actually reply to you!
Case in point: I was running unnaturally late one fateful morning (go figure, it was one of those days). Then on top of that the bus I was on appeared to break down and stop way before we even got to UBC. So I tweeted to @translink and this is the conversation that followed:
You tell me how often does a conversation like this happens! Don't you love it when someone actually replies? One would think that in this age where no mention should go unreplied, people still don't seem to get the concept that the social media world exists on conversations. It's not uncommon to have Twitter handles languishing, collecting dust even. Some Twitter handles exist for the sole reason for having a handle to refer to, be placeholders if you will.
NEVER. EVER. EVER. Do this.
But on another note, it's interesting to see that nearly 80% of the tweets being sent out by @translink on any given day are responses. While there are still the usual announcements and service disruptions that get tweeted out, most of what comes out are replies to customer complaints. This shows that social media doesn't always have to be about "ME ME ME". Instead of adapting the Me Attitude and pushing out content that's all about you, don't be afraid to solicit the opinions of people. Instead of focusing the conversation on YOU YOU YOU, think about broadening it to include topics related to your company. That way, you can build yourself as an opinion leader. People will want to hear what you have to say.
That's not to say there is no room for imrpovement. One thing I've noticed, and fellow transit friend KC Claveria saw too, is that Translink's social media team isn't particularly empowered to solve problems on social media. Then again, there is always the danger of something on social media blowing up in the company's face. I guess in Translink's defense it's trying to bring the problem offline (or at least off Twitter) for customer service to deal with.
Nonetheless, my faith in humanity is restored. Surprisingly in the day and age, companies embracing social media as a customer service tool are rare. There are those who fully embrace it and do a good job, like Translink and even Xbox Support. Then there are those who choose to use social media in this manner half-heartedly and wonder why they aren't getting results. Nothing comes from half-baked social media strategies and a lack of commitment. But it's clear that the well-run team behind Translink's Twitter presence knows what they're doing and are on the right track.