21st November 2013

Next stop: Retweet junction!

By Hannah Ingram on Thursday November 21, 2013

People of Manchester, the day has finally arrived – the Metrolink service now has its own dedicated Twitter feed.

Given the tricky week encountered by the service so far (a wave of predicted frost and ice brought trams to a standstill on Tuesday) this is a very brave step, as it opens the floodgates for commuters to say what they really think, knowing they’ll get a response.

Metrolink last came under fire in the summer when the service failed while The Ashes were in town, prompting the author of satire website, News Manc, to write a heavily sarcastic open letter to Transport for Greater Manchester in response to its apology.

Said letter went viral, appearing on various national newspaper websites and being frantically shared across online platforms in a ‘we know exactly how you feel’ act of solidarity from fellow commuters and Mancunians in general.

One of the points raised in the letter was the fact that social media is a two-way communication tool. The Transport for Greater Manchester Twitter feed was being inundated with complaints from commuters, most of which went unanswered.

Which begged the question, why have a Twitter presence at all

Now Metrolink has its own dedicated feed, commuters can be guaranteed a response from the control room and this morning, that duty fell on the shoulders of Maxine:

Maxine (and the social media team) is acting on behalf of Metrolink director, Peter Cushing, who has previously had to face the press when the service has failed on numerous occasions.

He has even hosted Twitter Q&As for disgruntled commuters to clear the air, which I feel has helped improve the overall image of the service with a digital audience.

I’d say the Twitter service is a step in the right direction for Metrolink. Commuters stuck at platforms these days do not just do the oh-so-British tutting and sighing when their transport doesn’t arrive – they head straight online and rant.

Having a facility to acknowledge said rant is essential. Sometimes, customers just need to know they’re being listened to, even if the response isn’t the one they necessarily want to hear:

It remains to be seen how the Metrolink Twitter feed is received across the city as this is its first full day in operation, but from the look of it, Maxine is doing a sterling job of answering queries and directing customers to the relevant people so far.

Long may this continue, especially as the snow starts to sweep in…