The T’s chief tweeter

Lisa Battiston works with the agency’s 138,000 followers

When did you start at the T and where did you come from? I started in November 2011. I came from outside the authority. I had just gotten my masters in fine arts from Emerson in creative writing.

Are you a whiz at social media? As adept as most 20-somethings are at social media. I didn’t take any classes in it. But they needed a communications person, so here I am.

Photograph by Frank Curran

Photograph by Frank Curran

What do you do? They needed someone who was dedicated to delivering information to customers via the website, in-station announcements, or whatever.  Twitter was something we had a presence on, but we weren’t really engaging with people. After a while, I started realizing that I knew the answer to a lot of the questions people were asking. So I got permission from my bosses to start talking back to people. I figured that if I give them information, I could really affect their commute. Once I got approval to go ahead and start doing that, it became the bulk of what I do.

A lot of your tweets let people know about problems with the system. But you also respond to a lot of customer tweets. Do you just pass along the comments to others at the T or do you try to resolve the problems? If it’s a bigger sort of issue, we obviously have to investigate it and that’s going to take more time. If it’s something like the AC is out on my bus, I would call the bus supervisor and ask him if he can check it out. Sometimes it’s as simple as the bus operator didn’t realize he didn’t have the AC on. Even the people tweeting will tweet back and say, oh my gosh, I can feel it, the AC’s working again.

Do you ever see tweets that could be perceived as threats and have to alert the police? We haven’t gotten anything too crazy, thank God. But that’s one of the reasons we’ve got the Twitter account. It’s also one of the reasons we never block or mute any account. If we block their account and don’t see [an ominous tweet], that would be bad.

What do you do with the guy who tweeted recently that “your regular service sucks balls?” We don’t have a policy that we have to respond to everybody, so if something is just blatantly negative we don’t necessarily need to respond to that. But if they’ve got something specific, we’re happy to look into that.

Why does the T do it? This is a small way we can affect things for the better by taking something negative and turning it into a positive. We’re trying to show people that we’re paying attention.

What social media is the T on? Primarily Twitter. We don’t have a Facebook presence right now, but we have an up and coming Instagram account. Our Twitter following is always rising. It just keeps getting busier and busier. And it seems like older folks are starting to use Twitter, too. In some cases, we are the only thing they follow. It’s definitely where our customers are.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Are you still pursuing writing? I’ve written a couple of nonfiction things that always get rejected by agents. Some day, we’ll see.

Any plots that revolve around the T? No, when I leave here I leave it here.