Last week PlanPhilly met with SEPTA to learn more about the transit agency's Twitter presence. While SEPTA's @SEPTA_Social account is taking off (The account launched in January and is up to more than 2,700 followers), SEPTA also has a surprising portfolio of other social media accounts. In addition to Twitter accounts, SEPTA has Facebook, Instagram, FourSquare, YouTube and (sure to draw some jokes) Pinterest accounts.
Unlike @SEPTA_Social, which is an arm of SEPTA's customer service division, the remaining Facebook, Instagram and Foursquare initiatives are spearheaded by SEPTA's marketing department. These accounts are part of the iSEPTAphilly campaign, a customer engagement initiative targeted at "the millennials."
"There's no in-between here," said SEPTA Assistant General Manager of Customer Service Kim Scott Heinle of iSEPTAphilly. "Either people love it, or they think it's complete B.S."
The SEPTA Facebook account is primarily run by the communications department, but all customer comments directed at this account are read by the "social customer service" team and any responses come from them.
The communications department also handles posts to YouTube and Pinterest with assistance from the social media and media relations teams when necessary.
What is SEPTA posting on Pinterest? Or for some, what is Pinterest? Pinterest is online bulletin board of sorts meant for photo sharing. SEPTA's Pinterest account is headlined "Things we love about Philadelphia," and it has boards with titles ranging from cultural inspiration to sports & leisure and sustainability. So far the Pinterest account has more followers than the YouTube channel and the iSEPTAPhilly Instagram account.
"Pinterest kind of came out of nowhere, but a lot of people really like it," Heinle said.
All of these social media accounts have one thing in common. They are relatively new additions to SEPTA's marketing and outreach efforts.
"Social media sort of hit the scene not that long ago," Heinle said, "Sort of stealthily at first, and it really became dominant in many ways."
SEPTA launched its Twitter alerts and advisories in 2008, YouTube account in January 2011, Facebook account in February 2011, Pinterest in 2011, @iSEPTAphilly Instagram in November 2012, @SEPTA_Social Twitter account in January 2013 and the @septasocial Instagram and Foursquare in May 2013.
In the coming months look for SEPTA's continued presence on Twitter and a growing social media presence on its other channels. To an extent, Heinle said, SEPTA is exploring the possibilities of social media on a trial and error basis. So far though, the results have been positive.
From 2012-2014 Christine covered transportation, writing about everything from pedestrian concerns to bicycle infrastructure, bridges, trail networks, public transit and more. Her favorite assignments sent her bushwhacking through Philadelphia’s yet-to-be-cleared bike trails, catching a glimpse of SEPTA’s inner workings or pounding the pavement to find out what pedestrians really think. Christine also covered community news for Eyes on the Street, where her work ranged from food sovereignty to public art and urban greening. She first joined PlanPhilly in fall 2011 as an intern through a partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods website.