Constructo-tweeting from the MTA

An article written yesterday in the NY Times made mention of what the Internet Farmer will call a “fantastic use of Twitter”.

The article points out a great reason for the MTA to be using Twitter.  Actually, two reasons:

  1. To communicate quickly with a large number of people
  2. To be transparent with the tax-payers who pay for the system

Are these the only good reasons to Tweet?  No.  But they are two VERY good ones.

The first point is about solving a problem. The MTA is a public utility that hundreds of thousands of people use each day.  There are accidents and changes that keep MTA workers busy, with little time to properly communicate the changes to those thousands headed for the subways at 5pm.  Using Twitter, many of those people could be alerted of alternate routes and the reason for the issue.  As a commuter, that knowledge is the power to get home on time.

For the MTA, it’s the ability to notify a large audience for the time it takes to write a memo, which in turn creates a safer and more fluid environment among the chaos of New York City.

Will everyone in New York City get that notification on Twitter? No.  But lots will, and the major congestion can be avoided.  It’s a win-win situation.

Let’s also take a quick look at the second point.

Again, the MTA is traditionally a large and not so friendly organization from the outside looking in.  By using Twitter to discuss the details of construction and other news of what they are doing to solve problems, they make themselves public. I think we can all agree that when someone, or an organization, is more upfront about how and why things happen, we are more likely to be tolerant when trouble strikes.  So for the MTA, opening some communication can only help, and I think Twitter folks in NYC are happy to hear them.

The MTA claims to only be experimenting with using Twitter now, but with the growth of iPhones and smart phones that make Twitter available anytime, the Internet Farmer thinks they’ve found a great way to use the medium and should proceed. But to really give them advice, having a blog with an RSS feed that publishes to any of these services including your own website is the key to doing it all in one keystroke. (anyone can do this with the Internet Farmer’s Blog Newsletter Publisher)

For me in Portland, I’m on the Parking Ban email list, so I get an email when there is a parking ban in the city.  Without making a call, or guessing, I get the note and move on accordingly.  Personally, I like getting emails, but I believe they publish the same information on Facebook and Twitter as well.  So you can get it any way that works for you, and that’s a great thing.

In looking at my own behavior, the point would be that each of these techniques for publishing is in fact a specific channel, just like TV or radio. In the end, the best chance for you to succeed in today’s business world if you have a lot of customers is to be everywhere your customers are, and give them the choice of how to consume what you have to say.  That said, even the Internet Farmer is headed for Twitter eventually, but not today. 🙂

Are you Tweeting?  What are you Tweeting about?  Is it personal or business?  Share your stories with the Internet Farmer and those who read this blog.