Most readers are already aware that Metro has a few Twitter accounts including @MetroLAalerts – an account dedicated solely to service alerts that was launched last February. What readers might not know is that there is no dedicated Twitter team at Metro. In fact, most of the updates on @MetroLAalerts and @MetroLosAngeles come from one dedicated young staff planner who in addition to his normal duties provides the round-the-clock updates and replies.
With that in mind, I wanted to take a look at what our friends at Vancouver’s Translink have been doing with a Twitter pilot they’ve been running the past few months. The pilot is covered in great detail over at The Buzzer Blog (with some great charts), but here are the basics:
- The @Translink Twitter pilot launched in November 2010.
- The agency had a Twitter account prior to the pilot (3,883 followers) but it wasn’t fully staffed or consistently updated.
- The pilot involved adding an additional customer information staff member for each shift who would consistently monitor the Twitter account between 6:30am and 11:30pm.
- In the first month of the pilot, the number of people following the Translink Twitter account increased by 1,140 to 5,023 followers – a 30% increase.
- The number of tweets coming from the agency increased from 278 tweets in October 2010 to 1,151 tweets in December – a 314% increase.
- Translink also embraced the two-way nature of Twitter and began following their followers – they followed 75 in October and increased to 884 in November.
- A foul weather event in late November that led to an increase in tweets from the agency also led to an increase in followers, mentions and retweets.
- The pilot has been extended to the end of this month and the agency hopes to continue the service pending funding approval.
Feedback from customers and staff has been positive. Staff was apprehensive at first but acclimated quickly to the technology and the feedback from customers has created a positive feedback loop – morale is up in the customer information department!
Obviously, the key to Translink’s Twitter pilot was getting the budget for the additional staff members – is such a project a worthy investment for Metro? The numbers and feedback from Translink seem to point to “yes.” However a recent (unscientific) poll on The Source shows our readers have mixed feelings about Twitter with 35% responding “I don’t use Twitter, never will!”