|Title||The use of social media by train operating companies: A study case analysis|
Social media increasingly provides a tool for public transport operators to interact with users and non-users of their services and collect user-generated data. The high variance of information produced by large user communities makes social media a significant player in service-oriented markets. Indeed, micro-blogging has spread to the transport field as a means to provide time-sensitive information and to engage customers. Nevertheless, there is a lack of understanding on the policies and extent to which micro-blogging is used by public transport operators as they engage with their customers. Social media is a tool that can be used for engagement, however there is no analysis of its application by private rail operators.
This paper addresses a gap in understanding regarding the use of social media among passenger train operating companies. In particular, it provides a case study on Twitter use by rail operators in the specific context of the UK; chosen as private train operating companies are only responsible for operating services rather than infrastructure planning. Specific aims clarify (i) the level and the type of stakeholder engagement through social media by private rail operators in Britain and (ii) how they use the micro-blogging tool to engage with their stakeholders. An analysis of five study cases on the use of micro-blogging by British passenger train companies is presented. Twitter is chosen as the social media application in the study cases as it is the only social media platform used by all British rail operators, as well as being seen as an information sharing platform rather than a purely social application. The paper shows evidence that Twitter use by train operators in Britain reflects a mainly information sharing function, however their policies and tweets indicate the use of Twitter for two-way stakeholder engagement. Recommendations based on the study cases are provided, reflecting the best practices for Twitter use by transport operators.
|Keywords||Social Media; Rail Transport; Transport Planning; Stakeholder Engagement; Twitter|
|Conference||Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) Annual Congress|
|Accepted author manuscript|