Lauren Armstrong has been a Public Information Officer at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority since June 2014. A passion for helping others motivates her to provide the best customer service to those who ride the T. Communicating via social media, managing mbta.com, and tracking operational performance data, is a glimpse into her day. @MBTA
We caught up with Lauren in advance of the Social Media Summit to talk about how the T uses social media and what she looks forward to most about the summit.
Q. What role can social media play in a crisis?
I think social media is one of the most powerful, and sometimes underestimated, communication tools available. It can be used to interact directly with stakeholders during a crisis, answer their questions/concerns and provide accurate and timely information.
Q.How does the MBTA use social media to communicate with its audiences?
Our use of social media is two-fold. Firstly, we use it to announce service delays/disruptions, news/updates, media stories and important reminders. Secondly, we use it as a tool to engage one-on-one with riders. We can answer their questions, resolve their complaints and pass along the much-appreciated operator shout-outs that we receive.
Q.Can you give an example of how you may have effectively managed social media during a crisis in the past?
Winter 2014/2015 was an opportunity to announce service schedules and updates to answer questions like, “What kind of service will be running tomorrow?” “Is my bus on snow route?” or “Will my commuter rail train be cancelled?” But it also gave us a few opportunities to highlight the work being done by MBTA employees to keep platforms and bus stops clear of snow and ice.
Q. How can organizations use the vast amount of data available from social media and website traffic to spot and address potential crisis situations?
Organizations can use data available to get ahead of a potential crisis. For example, when our web team spots a high increase in traffic to our winter service updates page, we make the decision to redirect our homepage right to our winter page. That way, customers get the exact information they’re looking for and don’t have to spend time looking around for it.
Q. What are you most looking forward to about the Social Media Summit?
I’m excited to connect with other leaders in the social media industry, and am looking forward to sharing what we do at the MBTA.
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