|Title||Train tweets: Engaging and supporting customers through Twitter|
This paper provides an analysis on the use of Twitter by private train operating companies in the United Kingdom, examining how the social media platform acts as a means to earn the trust of their customers and build or enhance their reputation. Current literature on public transport social media use has examined the basic functions of social media in the context of public transport agencies, as well as methods for extracting data from social media posts by the public. Despite this, there is a gap when examining why Twitter is used in the private passenger rail industry to engage with their customers. Using semi-structured interviews with 23 social media staff representing all open access and franchise rail operators in the United Kingdom, this study seeks to understand how Twitter is used to build reputation and earn the trust of customers. This paper introduces the concept of the social license to operate, when companies consult stakeholders to gain legitimacy for their operations, combining it with social media theory to form a new theoretical framework in examining the use of Twitter by train operating companies. The research shows that Twitter has become the primary method of sharing information with customers. Operators viewed Twitter as a means for earing the trust of customers and positively influencing the reputation of the company by providing customer services through Twitter and by Tweeting real-time, accurate, and honest status updates to their customers. The findings reflect the social license to operate and the importance of trust and reputation. In order to integrate Twitter as a means to build trust with customers and protect and enhance the operator’s reputation, policy recommendations are provided.
|Conference||47th European Transport Conference|