A post on Omnibuses yesterday discussed First Group's only foray into Social Media, a blog, Twitter account and Facebook page for Bath bus station, closing next week due to spending cuts. After we'd stopped laughing at the idea of closing down one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing and customer service during a recession, it got us wondering about use of Social Media amongst Manchester's bus operators. Was there anyone doing it?
It turns out we didn't have long to wait to find out. In the city centre yesterday we noticed that JPT have started painting a Facebook logo by the door of their buses, with text telling passengers to "Become a fan of Jpt Bus Company".
The JPT Facebook page, currently at 112 fans is quite lively for such a small operator. Only a few people (presumably mainly staff) contribute to the Wall, with photos of new vehicles and company related chat going on. What's more, they're operating a "Become a fan of our Facebook Page and receive a Complimentary £10.00 Weekly Ticket valid on ALL JPT Buses" offer.
JPT are certainly approaching Social Media the right way - open, relaxed, conversational. We'd love to see them on Twitter too. They're not the only Greater Manchester operator with a Facebook presence either. An unofficial Bluebird group, run by one of their drivers can be found by searching Facebook for "BlueBird Buses, Middleton". Similarly there's a semi-official "Jim Stones Coaches" group and an unofficial "South Lancs Travel" group, currently sitting at just 6 members. These can all be found by search ing Facebook.
It would be great to see more operators launch a Social Media presence and open an easy channel of communication with their passengers.
[Thanks to Ian Roberts for help compiling this list]