User-generated content usually goes one of two ways in the eyes of a company or brand manager. It’s either perceived as scary and unwanted due to a lack of message control or embraced and encouraged as an opportunity to extend the reach of a message through third party credibility.
We’ve obviously been experiencing a dynamic shift towards the latter as companies realize that online content and conversations are happening and will continue to happen with or without their involvement.
Last week, the Columbia Chronicle ran a story about a group of Chicago commuters launching a CTA twitter profile to help keep other commuters updated on train delays (soon to include more bus info as well) and updates. Frustrated with a lack of communication, the Twitter profile was established to fill a void where commuters knew they could help one another in a quick, easy manner.
Without a social media manager or someone on staff at the CTA to direct this charge, it likely would have been a long time before something like this was initiated by the CTA. Budget and staffs are tight and social media is still finding its place as a viable channel of safe and comfortable communication for many government agencies.
As far as I can tell, the CTA gets kudos for embracing this commuter-driven initiative instead of reacting negatively about loss of control or fear of being brandjacked. Such an adverse reaction would could have been detrimental and spurred on CTA watchdogs such as CTA Tattler (who also provided a more in-depth post about the intent of CTA Tweet) or Going Public.
I know I certainly look forward to receiving updates this winter as opposed to wondering how much longer I’ll need to endure the Windy City chill.