Social media engagement when things go wrong

Note: An expanded version of this article was cross-posted to Greater Greater Washington.

Early on the morning of May 17, MTA New York City Transit experienced a derailment which snarled subway service in Brooklyn. Instead of trying to cover up the incident as WMATA might have done, the MTA tweeted about the incident, including photos of the re-railing:

Dan Stessel, are you listening? Social media engagement isn’t just about your successes; it’s about your failures, too. The more transparent you are, the more riders will trust you and the agency when you communicate online. Derailments happen—there’ll inevitably be more on the Metrorail system—and how you react to them and other incidents matters. Creating a “climate of openness and transparency” means tweeting about the good and the bad, acknowledging when things go wrong, and being open about the recovery process. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here: @PATHTweet and @NYCTSubwayScoop (among others) serve as excellent examples of social media done right by transit agencies, and WMATA would do well to model its social media initiatives after those of the Port Authority and MTA.