diamond geezer

 Thursday, December 20, 2018

What's the @TfL Twitter feed for?

Under the surface it's an excellent means of providing advice and feedback for individual passengers, and being well used.
Hello Sunildvr, if a top up is not collected within the advised pick up window it will be automatically refunded to the payment card used for the transaction. This can take up to 4 working days. Thanks, Paul.

Hi Rowena Thanks for letting us know about this. I'm so pleased that staff at Mile End managed to catch your dog after it had escaped. I'll pass this excellent feedback to the area manager for Mile End and they'll pass their thanks to staff there. Best wishes, Tom.

Hi, thanks for sharing your blog with us. Your blog was very interesting to read so I've passed it onto our management team. I hope you a Merry Christmas. 🎄😊 Thanks, Aysun
But the majority of its 2.4 million followers never see these conversations, only @TfL's main tweets - on average four or five a day. And something's happened to those over the course of 2018. They've evolved from being tweets about TfL to a more chirpy collection of emoji-filled promotional banter.
The Continental 80 x TfL: a limited edition trainer combining the colours of the @victorialine and @wlooandcityline colours. Shop the collection here: https://www.adidas.co.uk/originals-tfl

You’re guaranteed a SHREKTACULAR time at this month’s top attraction! 💚

Got Christmas shopping to do? 🎄 Shop till you drop in luxury department store, Harrods. Just one of our 9 great things to see in London. Travel with our new Visitor Pass. 🎟️ https://londonblog.tfl.gov.uk/2018/06/25...

Cats rule, dogs drool? Head over to Instagram and join the conversation! https://www.instagram.com/p/BrNZxynHawi/
Don't get the wrong idea, the serious stuff is still there.
From tomorrow, ‘weekly’ capping will be available on Oyster for adult bus and tram passengers. 🚌🚊 This will mean that if you only use a bus or tram, you will never need to buy a 7 Day Bus & Tram Pass again, as travel will be automatically capped.

🌟 Our Tube, bus, DLR, London Overground and tram services are running this Christmas and New Year (except Christmas Day). Find out about service changes. https://tfl.gov.uk/christmas-travel

Today we’re waving the Purple Flag in recognition of people with disabilities. #LondonIsOpen to everyone and we are working hard to make travel around the city as easy and accessible as possible. For more information: https://tfl.gov.uk/transport-accessibility/ #IDPD2018 #PurpleLightUp
There just isn't as much of it.

To try and confirm this, I went back to the first nineteen days of December last year and looked at what the TfL feed was tweeting about then.
Having a drink with some friends tonight? Please take care on the way home, especially on stairs and escalators, if you’ve had a few.

Remember that minicabs must be booked & they must give you a booking confirmation. Check it when the minicab arrives – if the driver or car isn’t the same, don’t get in.

In just 12 months the @Elizabethline will launch when ten new stations open and trains start running through central London. To mark the countdown we unveiled the Tube Map with the new line included.
To ensure fair representation, I scanned through all 60-odd @TfL tweets from early December 2017 to see what they were about, and sorted them into content-based categories. The most popular category proved to be updates on 'TfL projects', such as the Northern line extension, the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street or resignalling the sub-surface tube lines. One third of @TfL's tweets were about that kind of thing. In second place was what I might call 'health & safety', in particular a pre-Christmas campaign on travelling safely after drinking, and in third place advice about taxis and minicabs. These three categories comprised over half of what was tweeted.
Everyone is having a great time riding the first ever #NightOverground ! #LO10 @nightczar
The new Night Overground service also got a fair whack, as did cycling, Christmas travel, ticketing apps and the Congestion Charge. But there were no plugs for unconnected commercial services. There were only a handful of emojis. There was no bants.

I then carried out the same classification on this December's tweets. By my calculations @TfL have tweeted roughly the same number of tweets across a similar period of time, but the breakdown of what's being tweeted has changed dramatically.

In first place, with 20 tweets, is promotional commercial content. 12 of these were for Adidas trainers - the inexplicable campaign linked to the hugely embarrassing non-launch of the Elizabeth line. Five of the 20 were tweeted on Small Business Saturday, showcasing small businesses who work alongside TfL or on TfL premises, which is fair enough. A trio of tweets about Shrek and Harrods were clearly aimed at visitors to the capital. And then there was this unexpectedly blatant plug for a singer's new album...
Mariah Carey is adding festive sparkle to your commute! Hear a message from the queen of Christmas at the following stations: ✨ London Bridge ✨ Waterloo ✨ Stratford Plus, soundtrack your journey with Mariah's Christmas hits and new album Caution: http://smarturl.it/MariahTFL?IQid=tfl.tw
This tweet's gone down really well, with over 1600 likes and 50000 video views. But under the surface it's a brazen moneyspinner for TfL, with the link in the tweet clicking through to a bespoke connection on the Amazon website.

In second place, with 12 tweets, is content urging you to view the @TfL feed on Instagram. TfL only have 78000 followers on that medium, barely 3% of their audience on Twitter, but also a much higher engagement rate with photos regularly garnering over 1000 likes. It seems somebody at TfL is going all out to maximise cross-platform synergy and user interaction, hence tweets about "what's your favourite transport mode?" and which pet you'd prefer to cuddle on the tube.

And in third place, with 7 tweets, are exhortations to click through to the TfL Experience London blog. If you didn't know TfL had such a thing, that probably shows how much this exposure is needed. The blog's aimed fairly and squarely at encouraging Londoners to get out and travel more, visiting places of interest, going shopping, taking up cycling or going for a walk. There are even quizzes sometimes, on downloadable emoji-sprinkled pdfs. It all fits in nicely with the current campaign promoting Off Peak travel, delivered with a generally light-hearted touch.

As for more serious corporate content, that's taken a lot more of a back seat and comprises no more than a third of this month's tweeted total. For example we've only had two tweets this month about infrastructure projects, rather than last year's 18, as well as three about cycling and this one about the 150th anniversary of the traffic light.
🚦 Here’s what the first traffic light looked like, 150 years ago 🚦 This was long before today's technology, which allows us to manage the network using traffic lights to benefit not just drivers but people walking, cycling and taking the bus 🚶🚲🚌 🚦 #TrafficLight150
To summarise, a year ago the majority of the @TfL twitter feed was about TfL projects, health & safety and taxis/minicabs. This December, the majority of the @TfL twitter feed has been about commercial sponsors, interacting on Instagram and Experience London blog content.
Hang out with all of your favourite Dreamworks pals at this month’s top attraction! ✨

We've seen it all on the network! Back your favourite at https://www.instagram.com/p/Brfcf4fgrPZ

The Jam’s hit ‘Going Underground’ might be the most well known track about the network! What year was this track released? 🤔 How many weeks did it spend at number one? 🏆
If it's up to date information on delays, diversions and engineering works you want, no worries, TfL's other bespoke feeds remain untainted and are as useful as before. But its flagship brand, the one with millions of followers, has sidelined the 'worthy' content and is now trying to be your mate rather than offer an authoritative tone of voice.

@TfL's new priority is engagement, rather than information. Twitter is now being used as a gateway to content elsewhere, with far less focus on the organisation itself. When you have an audience of two million it makes commercial sense to try to leverage your subscribers towards more productive messages. And I'd guess a lot of readers are enjoying the new interactive, bantsier face of @TfL. But for others, what they thought they were getting when they subscribed definitely isn't what they're getting now, in yet another example of commercial content drifting inexorably to the fore.


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