“Stuck at my own station for the past 15mins. You guys did it again. #Systemfault” Said Twitter user, Shaun Lee, on the Circle line train fault that occurred March 15, 2016.
Introduction and Main Message
Unfortunately, this was only one of the many complaints SMRT received. Yes, there are tons of those sarcastic comments and there is definitely a need to change the perceptions of SMRT in the eyes of the public. With it being the main operator for MRT and various public transport systems in Singapore, it is essential to restore customer confidence of SMRT in terms of its competence and reliability. This is especially so when the negative reports, such as train breakdowns, delays, employee deaths and fare hikes are surfaced quite regularly recently.
Hence, we have come up with various plans and goals which may be able to improve the reputation of SMRT in terms of translating transparent, accurate and real-time communications. Also, we felt that SMRT has a well-structured slogan – “we are working on it.” However, such slogan was not made prominent to the commuters.
SMRT currently uses traditional and digital forms of mediums to convey their messages. As we enter the stations, we noticed that there are physical banners and on-site TVs to relate information of the train timings. Additionally, SMRT possessed online platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and mobile App as well. It seems like SMRT had the best of both worlds to relate crucial information such as train delays to the public, but are they using it to their advantage? Are they maximizing the use of such platforms? We choose to believe that there are plenty of improvements to be done.
We deduced that the current SMRT and Social Media Savvy commuters will be our sampled audience for measurement of our action plans.
Firstly, we felt that many commuters were not being informed about their Twitter account. As SMRT used such platform to communicate the real-time updates, it will be a good platform for commuters to get first-hand information so they can plan alternative routes durinzg a train breakdown. We felt that SMRT should include plans such as informing passengers to follow their Twitter to receive these real-time updates. By getting their existing commuters to follow their Twitter account, it will give rise to a network effect because commuters can simply retweet the information and inform more commuters about any information of the train timings/delays. On the other hand, SMRT can also utilize native advertising by producing an article such as – “Top 10 ways to circumvent the morning crowd in Singapore” to attract new consumers to follow their twitter account.
Moving on, let us talk about SMRT’s Facebook platform. Currently, their Facebook include having updates on their train and buses. Occasionally, there are some articles to review on their renovation and serving. However, we felt that there should be more improvement and engagement on this platform. Facebook has a live video function and SMRT should tap on such feature to broadcast live news to commuters. The reason being that such allowed commuters to know the situation of the crowded affected zone which commuters then can find replacement routes to their destinations. Moreover, there is a tab feature on Facebook pages now and SMRT should use that to include their mitigation plans, such as inputting replacement shuttle bus services and having a widget to reroute their bus journeys.
Next, we felt that SMRT’s current campaign – “We’re working on it” is relative a good slogan but not prominent and credible enough to surface to the public. Such slogan is delivered though the Youtube platform but the video contents made SMRT appear not sincere because the contents are produced by SMRT themselves and it may appear like a scripted propaganda. This may perhaps also be a reason why their videos are having a relatively low reach (Audiences may not be interested since it’s a more “propaganda” video”). Hence, SMRT may try to engage local Youtubers to create and publish content that is in line with its message. This would probably lower the audience’s guard in thinking that it is scripted. (Such is a native advertising SMRT can utilize.)
Finally, one crucial point that we had observed from SMRT’s social media platform(s) is that they do not engage in a 2-way communications. In today’s digital world, current web 3.0 requires companies to have a 2-way communication with their stakeholders (i.e. customers). This would help with the portrayal of transparency and sincerity in communicating. It also shows that SMRT is listening to the commuters and constantly making improvements. Such engagement will also reinforce their slogan “We’re working on it” as it portrayed a more “forgiving” tone. Not to mention, any “mistakes” will probably be easily forgotten and forgiven. We felt that SMRT should use its social media platforms to interact with their followers and improve their crisis management plans.
The above proposed are plans we have in mind for SMRT and we shall measure these action plans by following “PIER.”
Personable: The types of comments (i.e. satisfied, angry etc.) received on SMRT’s Facebook in response to the press release posts/news article.
Improvement from current success measurements: Give out surveys to SMU students and ask for responses towards the social media campaign articles/posts.
Engaging: Measuring plans through behavioural reports from Hortjar or Synthesio. Such tools enable us to find out how long users hover around the webpage. Additionally, we can also find out the interest level of the users by analysing which particular area did they hovered at the longest. Such behavioural tools can give us interesting insights and allowed us to follow up for improvements.
Relevance: The number of Twitter or Facebook shares and responses.
Our Proposal Choice(s)
Ultimately, under limited resources, we felt that our focus should be put in place for SMRT’s Facebook and Twitter. By publishing full press release articles, Facebook algorithm allow good articles to be bumped up to timelines which may result in possible viral sharing. On the other hand, Twitter’s usage of publishing short, real-time updates of breakdowns still stays as the best platform to pursue a transparent and sincere image for SMRT. Moreover, Twitter may possibly be a platform for the highest potential for outreach since commuters are more concerned with the fast and accurate transport information.
In conclusion, with the advancement into Web 3.0 and social media, it is essential that companies appear truthful, efficient and accurate at responding to online public relation crisis as reputation is the key to sustainability. Hence, this translate to the three broad goals that SMRT have to attend to:
- To update any news of train breakdown(s) in a quick, transparent and efficient approach.
- To improve and utilizing the existing platforms so as to dissipate news or convey replacement shuttle buses in a more efficient way.
- To simultaneously produce good and genuine content across more social media platforms or external channels (Garner network effect) so as to improve outreach and convince commuters that “They are working on it.”
Lastly, SMRT also has to acknowledge that sometimes the better campaigns mask themselves by using personal approaches, such as native advertising.