TfL Social Media cutbacks?

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PeterC

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According to TfL,

"Hi, as Twitter publishes tweets in order of popularity rather than chronologically, this has meant customers have not been receiving the most up-to-date travel information. We will still tweet about significant disruption to our services via @TfL and respond to queries."
Twitter actually gives you the option to switch between "top tweets" and a chronological view. This is nothing new, it has been the case for all the years thast I have used it. That is an excuse not a reason.
 

Mikey C

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Twitter actually gives you the option to switch between "top tweets" and a chronological view. This is nothing new, it has been the case for all the years thast I have used it. That is an excuse not a reason.
Agreed, it's a nonsense excuse. It's clearly cost cutting
 

plugwash

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Twitter actually gives you the option to switch between "top tweets" and a chronological view. This is nothing new, it has been the case for all the years thast I have used it. That is an excuse not a reason.
Whats new-ish is that at least on andriod they went through a period of trying to bully people to switch to the "top tweets" view, you could switch to latest tweets view but it would repeatedly switch back.
 

Mojo

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Twitter actually gives you the option to switch between "top tweets" and a chronological view. This is nothing new, it has been the case for all the years thast I have used it. That is an excuse not a reason.
It does, but that is a user controlled setting for viewing other tweets, and not for how other people view yours.

Accordingly, Twitter is not a very good medium for providing status updates as the tweet is not necessarily going to be seen when you want it, and may instead pop up on someone’s feed several days later when the service is running fine!
 

CBlue

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Twitter doesn't charge for use of the accounts, and if one person was running them all anyway I don't see the issue of it all being put under a "TFL" twitter.
Doesn't have a cost saving but I imagine a fair bit easier to keep track of - especially when one issue affects multiple lines.
 

Domh245

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I think that like Mojo suggests, the issue is that the individual twitter accounts are no longer useful for the bulk of people. There's no cost saving from closing free accounts that were already monitored by the same people, but you can see by looking at previous tweets that engagement (the only metric you can really measure the effectiveness by) is poor. You can argue that this is because people don't tend to retweet or like tweets announcing resumption of a full service (etc) but it's pretty obvious I think that when people need service updates they're better served by using other services (facebook bot, tfl website) than twitter, where the information is hidden between whatever other nonsense is in people's feeds. Where people want specific information that they'd have gotten by tweeting the line's account, this can still be done by tweeting the TfL account - which if anything as there is now only one account to monitor instead of 15 has a better chance of a timely response given that the same number of staff will be monitoring it
 

Mikey C

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It does, but that is a user controlled setting for viewing other tweets, and not for how other people view yours.

Accordingly, Twitter is not a very good medium for providing status updates as the tweet is not necessarily going to be seen when you want it, and may instead pop up on someone’s feed several days later when the service is running fine!
Anyone who uses Twitter regularly would know who to set it to give a chronological view, indeed that's why transport operators use it so much now because it's a great way of getting information quickly to your customers.

I also follow TfL Travel News and Bus Alerts, and BBC Radio London Travel, and when I'm having to use buses outside of London will temporarily follow the local bus company to get up to date info. Train operators give up to date information on Twitter, airports do it as well...

I think that like Mojo suggests, the issue is that the individual twitter accounts are no longer useful for the bulk of people. There's no cost saving from closing free accounts that were already monitored by the same people, but you can see by looking at previous tweets that engagement (the only metric you can really measure the effectiveness by) is poor. You can argue that this is because people don't tend to retweet or like tweets announcing resumption of a full service (etc) but it's pretty obvious I think that when people need service updates they're better served by using other services (facebook bot, tfl website) than twitter, where the information is hidden between whatever other nonsense is in people's feeds. Where people want specific information that they'd have gotten by tweeting the line's account, this can still be done by tweeting the TfL account - which if anything as there is now only one account to monitor instead of 15 has a better chance of a timely response given that the same number of staff will be monitoring it
A lot of people don't care about the general network. If I live in Epping, updates on the Central Line are really useful to me, whereas a general TfL Account where they are buried with all the other services is far less useful. That Epping person doesn't want to be bombarded with updates on the Piccadilly line to Heathrow or problems with the Overground to Watford.

Travel information tweets are hardly the same as other types of tweeting where the number of retweets and likes reflects the popularity. A tweet telling me that Camden Town station is closed due to a fire alert may be really useful, but I'm hardly going to "like" it!
 

Domh245

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A lot of people don't care about the general network. If I live in Epping, updates on the Central Line are really useful to me, whereas a general TfL Account where they are buried with all the other services is far less useful. That Epping person doesn't want to be bombarded with updates on the Piccadilly line to Heathrow or problems with the Overground to Watford.

Travel information tweets are hardly the same as other types of tweeting where the number of retweets and likes reflects the popularity. A tweet telling me that Camden Town station is closed due to a fire alert may be really useful, but I'm hardly going to "like" it!
That's the point though, they're dropping the service update tweets altogether and redirecting people after that information to other services (ie their website) that are more useful for showing that information than twitter. The TfL account doesn't tweet service updates currently, and I doubt that it'll tweet them in the future, like you say it's too wide ranging a platform to be tweeting generally that (eg) there's a bus replacement service for the trams, or that step free access has been restored at Bush Hill Park.

The TfL twitter service 'offering' now is general TfL promotion, and responding to specific enquiries that have been sent to them through twitter.
 

Mikey C

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That's the point though, they're dropping the service update tweets altogether and redirecting people after that information to other services (ie their website) that are more useful for showing that information than twitter. The TfL account doesn't tweet service updates currently, and I doubt that it'll tweet them in the future, like you say it's too wide ranging a platform to be tweeting generally that (eg) there's a bus replacement service for the trams, or that step free access has been restored at Bush Hill Park.

The TfL twitter service 'offering' now is general TfL promotion, and responding to specific enquiries that have been sent to them through twitter.
But people have to specifically decide to go to the TfL website or another App, whereas a lot of people will already have Twitter running, that's the difference, and why Twitter is such a useful tool for instant information, and why line specific information was so useful

If I don't know there's a problem on my line, why would I open up a travel App in the first place?
 

Bletchleyite

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Anyone who uses Twitter regularly would know who to set it to give a chronological view, indeed that's why transport operators use it so much now because it's a great way of getting information quickly to your customers.
I suspect that option will go away like it did for Facebook (and it was a bad day for Facebook when that changed, too; it's much less useful as it is).
 

Peter Mugridge

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Whats new-ish is that at least on andriod they went through a period of trying to bully people to switch to the "top tweets" view, you could switch to latest tweets view but it would repeatedly switch back.
It still does. If I don't use Twitter on my mobile for a few days, it reverts.

Regarding the TfL / Underground matters - if there's a problem, I certainly find it easier and quicker to check a specific line's feed rather than scroll though a single feed that covers all the lines - and most people in the general public probably won't automatically think of trying TfL instead of a more specific name first.
 

Domh245

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whereas a lot of people will already have Twitter running, that's the difference, and why Twitter is such a useful tool for instant information, and why line specific information was so useful
They may have it open, but the odds of them seeing the line specific information is slim, not only because of the non-default non-chronological sorting but also whatever other things they happen to be following and cluttering up their feed with. Ironically, if the tweets had good engagement (likes, retweets, comments) then twitter would have likely started pushing those up the queue of things people should be shown, making them more useful.

If I don't know there's a problem on my line, why would I open up a travel App in the first place?
TfL push a message of "check before you travel" - particularly for weekend/leisure travel where there is a good chance of disruption due to engineering works, but also generally. If you didn't know that there was a problem on your line, what would have been the chance of spotting the tweet telling people about it in amongst the rest of your feed? I suspect slim, until you actively look for it - at which point you're in the same boat as using a travel app.
 

CBlue

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Given how prolific LU and TFL travel information is anyway, I've tended to notice information screens at mainline stations or even on some trains these days display the info long before I would have noticed the same on Twitter.
 

rebmcr

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Anyone who uses Twitter regularly would know who to set it to give a chronological view
Unfortunately this is not even close to true. The global rate at which users interact with apps' settings is in the single-digit percents — this is a concrete fact, gathered directly by the app stores' telemetry functions.

90%+ of phones 'out there' in the wild, engaging with services like TfL's Twitter feeds, permanently do so with default settings.

I suspect that option will go away like it did for Facebook (and it was a bad day for Facebook when that changed, too; it's much less useful as it is).
It still exists if you bookmark
Code:
https://www.facebook.com/?sk=h_chr
— this didn't work on a previous iteration of the 'new' design but was re-introduced the second time it got pushed onto my account.
 

Mikey C

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Unfortunately this is not even close to true. The global rate at which users interact with apps' settings is in the single-digit percents — this is a concrete fact, gathered directly by the app stores' telemetry functions.

90%+ of phones 'out there' in the wild, engaging with services like TfL's Twitter feeds, permanently do so with default settings.
But the people who use Twitter for travel updates (whether for road news or public transport) as opposed to "what's trending amongst the twitterati" WILL have it set to give the latest tweets at the top
 

rebmcr

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But the people who use Twitter for travel updates (whether for road news or public transport) as opposed to "what's trending amongst the twitterati" WILL have it set to give the latest tweets at the top
It's literally impossible for you to know that, so don't present it as fact.

It's also incredibly unlikely that those who follow TfL are exclusively contained within the small percentage of setting-changers, so your guess is probably false.
 

Mikey C

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It's literally impossible for you to know that, so don't present it as fact.

It's also incredibly unlikely that those who follow TfL are exclusively contained within the small percentage of setting-changers, so your guess is probably false.
I don't KNOW it but it makes logical sense that anyone who regularly uses Twitter for TOPICAL updates such as travel alerts, as opposed to people looking for Twitter trends, will have it set to give the latest tweets first. Something pointed out by the many people replying to TfL yesterday
 

markymark2000

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Twitter has plenty of bots which you could use so that any post then auto posts or retweets onto another page. Surely you would just use them so then the cost is minimal. The only cost would be the bot as the bot would likely cost a bit for the amount of posts being posted.
 

Mojo

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Twitter has plenty of bots which you could use so that any post then auto posts or retweets onto another page. Surely you would just use them so then the cost is minimal. The only cost would be the bot as the bot would likely cost a bit for the amount of posts being posted.
This misses the point somewhat in that it isn’t a cost thing. Twitter accounts are provided free of charge. The number of staff responding to social media isn’t being reduced.
 

Gag Halfrunt

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Metro Report International asked TfL why they were closing Twitter accounts. The official answer is that operating a single account will be more efficient and better for responding to customers. For live travel information they have introduced their own app, TfL Go, which is available for iOS but not yet for Android.


Transport for London closes Twitter accounts
14 September 2020

UK: Transport for London has started to consolidate its Twitter communications at its main account, and close the separate accounts it operates for London’s various transport modes and individual lines.

‘By reducing the number of Twitter accounts we manage to just focus on @tfl, we believe we can better focus on responding to all customer enquires — especially those with accessibility queries — more quickly’, a spokesperson told Metro Report International.

TfL said the information on its Twitter feeds was manually updated, rather than taken from automated data, which meant that there could be delays in information being posted.

It also said ‘Twitter no longer automatically displays messages in chronological order, meaning the latest travel information that a customer might see might not always be accurate and timely’. Metro Report International notes that the choice of whether to show tweets chronologically is a user setting.

New travel tools
TfL insisted that it was ‘committed to providing a transport network that is as accessible as possible and working hard to ensure that key travel information is communicated through a number of channels. To ensure that we provide accurate live travel information in an easy-to-use way for all of our customers, we have developed new travel tools, including the new TfL Go app, which provides the latest information quickly and is being updated to provide further information in the coming months.’

At present the TfL Go app is available for iOS, but not Android.

TfL said it had engaged with external stakeholders including accessibility groups, before making the decision to close the Twitter accounts, and had undertaken an equality impact assessment.

Concerns had been raised by several followers about the announced closure of the @tflaccess feed, which has been ‘temporarily paused’ while further engagement with accessibility groups takes place.

London TravelWatch Director Emma Gibson told Metro Report International that ‘it is important that transport users in London are able to access information in a range of ways to suit their needs. We realise that TfL probably has over 20 Twitter channels and with limited resources it might be difficult to monitor them all.

‘But we would expect them to consult with passengers before they remove information channels, and ensure that they are still able to effectively serve the diverse needs of passengers in other ways whether that means improving the information on their website or working with app developers.’
 
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birchesgreen

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They may have it open, but the odds of them seeing the line specific information is slim, not only because of the non-default non-chronological sorting but also whatever other things they happen to be following and cluttering up their feed with. Ironically, if the tweets had good engagement (likes, retweets, comments) then twitter would have likely started pushing those up the queue of things people should be shown, making them more useful.
I'm not sure about that, i follow the Bakerloo line account and noticed a lot of updates.

Getting rid of these accounts is a poor decision.
 

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