Social Media Report Card: CTA on the right track?

Social Media Report Card: CTA on the right track?

The Chicago Transit Authority made its tweeting debut this past Monday. Now, I realize it would be unfair to critique an account that hasn’t even seen a full week yet, but I found myself surprisingly impressed with the new social media presence.

And how often can one say something like that about public transportation in Chicago?

Below, what the CTA is doing to pull ahead in the Twitterverse, and what opportunities they have to keep it going.

Thumbs up

What’s the main info a commuter is going to want from the Chicago Transit Authority? Delays. Construction. Reroutes; anything that may cause a glitch in their arrival from point A to B. The CTA could share these and call it a day. But then we wouldn’t be talking about them here. Where the organization makes itself stand out is the fact they are not afraid to have a personality, as evident by their very first tweet above.

It’s a common rookie mistake by a business to set up shop, blast out a few promotions or links and then wonder why no one follows them. The CTA understands that no matter who or what you are, if you’re on social media, you need be be engaging and even a little bit human. Between personally assisting those who tweet them for help and sharing in conversation with a sense of humor, @CTA goes beyond being the account you follow out of need to being the account you follow because you enjoy it.

Thumbs down

Being the fair and generous social media enthusiast I am, I won’t start jumping on a four-day old account for not being perfect. Yet. (Although, I do want to say: easy on the shorthand please! Save ths 4 txts 2 ur frendz xoxo.)

I  hope that once they get their routine down, the CTA doesn’t settle for “good enough”. They have a chance to engage with their customers on a personal level. And while many in Chicago don’t really have a choice but to use their services, there’s no reason a relationship can’t be improved. I would love to see even further engagement with the community: hold a poetry or song contest-commuter with the best ode to the CTA wins a free month pass. Ask people their favorite route. What’s on their CTA “wishlist”,  etc.

The bottom line: keep expanding what you already do well.

The Verdict

I can’t pass judgment so early in the game, but I like what I’m seeing from the Chicago Transit Authority so far. If they keep heading in this direction, I see no reason why they can’t chug along to five hashtags soon enough.

What do you think of the new Twitter handle? What do you want to see more of? Sharing is caring!

Jen Healy is a Global Social Media Specialist for a really big international (go figure) company on the Northside of Chicago. Her claim to social media fame involves a stint as the social media intern for the RedEye, America’s Test Kitchen, the title 2011 Downtown Dash Champion and “Top 10 World’s Coolest Interns.” (Yes, it’s real, and it’s spectacular.)



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  • Great article, Jen. I'm a ChicagoCard holder, take the CTA everyday and follow them on Twitter, so this is something I've followed as well.

    At first they tweeted too often (for my tastes) but seemed to reign it in lately. The CTA is part of my life so it's in my best interest to follow them on Twitter, but that doesn't mean when I refresh my twitter feed I want the CTA to be responsible for half of the new tweets: I tolerate the CTA, it's not that I organically care or I'm am eager to hear every conceivable thing that's new.

    Much like you, I wouldn't mind seeing the CTA branch out into a humanesque form on Twitter- but I think it should be gradual and earned.

  • In reply to TRSlyder:

    Thanks TR, glad you enjoyed it!

    I definitely get your point; as with many city-run organizations, they are a necessary evil at times. And while I don't need to be seeing banter from them every 90 seconds, it's nice that they clearly have a real-live human behind the Twitter wheel. How lovely if we could say the CTA did something right? ;)

    Thanks for the comment!

  • hey where did CTA Spokesperson Brian Steele come from, name sound familar and with the current cut in CTA Media Staff a new addition??

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