Get on the GO

I’ve made some progress on my assignment and I thought I’d share it with the #smrtcce folks. It’s gonna be a long one, so buckle up! (Isn’t it fun to use transportation-related clichés? Yes.)

Here’s a list of where I’ve been going to do some of my GO Transit research:

  • News articles (GO-related and competitor-related such as VIA Rail, thanks to @TheBethAmer)
  • Twitter (@GetontheGO)
  • Facebook (Get on the GO)
  • LinkedIn (company profile only – of note anyway)
  • Get on the GO YouTube channel
  • The Smart Commute website
  • Another blogger I found (CJ Smith) – This Crazy Train (she’s also on Twitter @ThisCrazyTrain)
  • The GO Transit website
  • I even grabbed a “GO News” booklet while I was on the GO bus last week (I’m pretty sure someone yelled out “Loser!” when I did, but I can’t be sure…it was dark)

Here’s a small summary of my findings (just some extras to compliment the SWOT analysis below):

@GetontheGO has ~4,500 followers on Twitter but has only tweeted 315 times. Most of the tweets are duplicated in French or are re-tweets, so that means they’ve probably only tweeted about 150 times. Doesn’t seem like much considering many #smrtcce-ers are gaining on them. Lots of 2-way information here though.

Get on the GO has just over 2,000 “Likes” on Facebook, and a little disclaimer asking posters to “keep your mom proud!” You can read the whole thing here. Its presence here seems lacking.

GO Transit has a Passenger Charter that’s posted everywhere. You’ve probably seen it and not even realized it. Basically there are 5 customer promises GO Transit sets out to keep. The one that factors in to my assignment is “Keeping you in the know”. This is where GO Transit lists all the ways passengers can stay informed about pertinent GO-related information. You’ll notice none of the items on the list refer to social media (even though they use social media). Now you can’t really blame them – social media is not frequently praised by governmental bodies. But, huzzah! Enter, Dani. Here’s my chance to capitalize on an untapped communications medium. This will frame my pitch.

Before that, here’s the good ol’ SWOT analysis of GO Transit’s social media engagement:

Strengths (internal)

  • Already using social media (which may mean a social media policy is already in place)
  • Clear company goals/charter
  • GO Transit’s focus on safety
  • Committed to keeping passengers in the know
  • Government-backing (and therefore, funding)
  • Engaged with followers, even if feedback is negative

Weaknesses (internal)

  • Potential lack of resources to manage increased use of social media
  • Not effectively cross-referencing all news in social media yet
  • Governmental influence potentially restricting increased use of social media
  • Not promoting their own use of social media

Opportunities (external)

  • Exploit use of social media and engage a wider audience
  • Potential for promotional programs
  • Diverse passenger demographic
  • Increased public focus on environmental solutions (GO Transit encourages reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and caters to the “Going Green” trend)
  • Endorsements and cross-promotion from industry partners (such as Smart Commute)
  • Planned route expansions and Union Station renovations

Threats (external)

  • Diverse passenger demographic
  • Disengaged and apathetic passengers
  • Alienating passengers who don’t use social media
  • Over-saturating passengers with GO-related information from many varying outlets
  • Misuse of social media by GO Transit
  • Recent fare-hike announcement (to go into effect on February 18, 2012)

This SWOT analysis is nice and tidy at first glance, but it’s packed with implications. For example, “diverse passengers” are both an opportunity and a threat. Social media is great because you can reach a wider audience but it’s harder to cater messages to a wider audience and some of that audience may not want to be engaged through social media. Tricky, tricky.

So, looks like GO Transit’s got a few issues to work on. The company is going to have to balance its reputation (which varies widely among passengers) and affiliations with Metrolinx (that governmental body I mentioned previously). GO Transit engages passengers in many ways, using surveys and some social media, but just announced a fare-hike. Why did I choose this topic again? It’s the same reason I’m taking 3 classes in Hamilton while working full-time in Toronto: I’m a glutton for punishment. But I like to think of it as “I like a challenge”. So as I ponder these issues, and my SWOT analysis, it looks like I’ll have to frame my pitch carefully.

With a little help from my friends in sales, I’ll try address the threats with careful planning and by exploiting the opportunities. Now to work on that elevator speech…


One thought on “Get on the GO

  1. […] addition to some of the other research I already performed, I should mention a couple more sources and be a little more […]

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