Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BART going 2.0 on us!

I spend a lot of my time at work trying to convince clients to invest more online, especially in social media. These are smart marketers at big brands. And many are so gun shy to just pull the trigger and DO SOMETHING!

I find it ironic then that BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) has been more progressive than some of these clients.

(Photo courtesy of SF Weekly)

They were already running a great near-real-time email-based BART advisory alert service that often reported delays to its schedule. But then I noticed an ad on a BART train telling people to follow them on Twitter (twitter.com/sfbart). They not only push out delays in the system, but they are responding to user feedback and issues, promoting local events and how BART can get you there, and proactively engaging in the community in useful ways (e.g., this tweet from last week when big RSA conference was in town: "Welcome to all the folks taking BART to RSA! Let us know if you have questions and we'll try to answer. #rsac"). They are even giving away $25 BART gift cards for favorite tweets about BART. Best of all, the tweets feel very personable, not just what you'd read on their "dry" website.But they're doing more than just Twitter. They have RSS feeds. They've also opened up their schedule and real-time data to third-party developers. This recent news release about their "Developer App Center" summarizes some of the other cool stuff they have cooking in mobile space. They did a mobile survey and appear to actually be listening and responding!

It makes business sense why they're reaching out to developers and customers. California and many municipalities are facing budget cuts so they have to rely on the collective wisdom of the community, given their limited resources.

Overall, I am very impressed by this new face for BART. Keep it up, guys!


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