The Big Three: Facebook, Twitter and Video Are DOTs Preferred Social Places

For more than half a decade, AASHTO has tracked social media usage by state departments of transportation. During that time, a crazy myriad of social tools have come along – and gone away. But according to the 2015 State DOT Social Media Survey, three social tools have established themselves as the tried-and-true, go-to resources.

(Full disclosure: I serve as AASHTO’s communications director and work closely with state DOTs on communications issues, including use of social media.)

Each June, AASHTO surveys state DOTs about their social media programs. In 2010, states generally relied on Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Approximately 10 percent of state DOTs still maintained MySpace accounts and 33 percent offered podcasts.

socia media big threeThis year’s survey shows, however, that Facebook, Twitter and online video services YouTube and Vimeo are the social tools most used by state DOTs to communicate with the public.

The survey goes a step further and asks states a simple question, “If your state could use only one social media service, which would it use?” Twitter came out slightly ahead of Facebook, but both tools had their fans.

whichonetool Twitter advocates said that the short message format and the immediate information delivery worked best for providing breaking, or urgent information about system conditions. It also was described as an important channel for connecting with journalists and bloggers covering transportation issues.

Facebook fans described the rich suite of tools and the ability to integrate several social channels into a single site as among its biggest benefits. In short, Facebook has the potential for the largest audience and provides the best platform for longer-form messages related to safety and overall agency branding.

You can see from the chart below that Twitter is mostly used for the urgent, need-to-know information, while states mostly use Facebook for public involvement and general branding/safety messaging.

bigthreetable.emfA full list of the annual social media reports 2010-2015 is available at the TransComm web site.

Transportation Communicating is About More Than Cars and Highways

Even as the price of fuel remains low and national vehicle miles traveled grows on our nation’s highways, there is no doubt that bicycling — whether competitively or recreationally — is growing in popularity.

Most states have policies and programs in place to support bicycling programs and infrastructure. In addition, state transportation departments tend to have employees who bike regularly. In many states the chief engineers and transportation CEOs regularly cycle and serve as the strongest advocates for bicycling. Continue reading “Transportation Communicating is About More Than Cars and Highways”

New Research Reveals Messages that Move Public to Support Transportation Investments

onlinepubs.trb.org onlinepubs nchrp docs NCHRP20 24 93 C_FR.pdf
Key themes and messages identified in the new report, “Mobile Messages: Moving People to Support Transportation.”

A new research report published this week by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program offers some insight into how the general public views transportation, and suggests some ways to discuss investments that could generate greater support.

But there are not any “silver bullet” messages that work in every situation.

“Mobile Messages: Moving People to Support Transportation,” analyzes the results of more than two dozen case studies; a survey of transportation agency officials; eight focus groups; and, two dial testing sessions. Continue reading “New Research Reveals Messages that Move Public to Support Transportation Investments”

Talking Environment: Transportation Messaging and Accountability

"Woodsy-Owl-original". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woodsy-Owl-original.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Woodsy-Owl-original.jpg
“Woodsy Owl” Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woodsy-Owl-original.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Woodsy-Owl-original.jpg

Check your calendars. Earth Day is April 22, just weeks away. This will be the 45th anniversary of the first Earth Day, which is commonly referred to as the start of the modern environmental movement.

I remember as a child in the 70s being taught to “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” and I remember the Keep American Beautiful public service announcement that featured a tear falling down the cheek of a Native American as he watched garbage pile up in rivers and streams.

Those were powerful messages that helped shape my view of litter and helped my generation understand that our natural environment was important to protect. Continue reading “Talking Environment: Transportation Messaging and Accountability”

Talking Work Zone Safety: “He’s the best dad ever”

Be Work Zone Alert
The California Department of Transportation recently launched a new work zone safety campaign featuring agency workers and their families.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)  and its partners — the California Highway Patrol, California Office of Highway Safety, California Department of Motor Vehicles and Impact Teen Drivers — recently launched a new work zone safety campaign featuring Caltrans employees and their children under the tagline, “Be Work Zone Alert.”

The multimedia campaign features a beautiful web page, outdoor advertising and public service announcements. Social media posts feature the hashtag #BeWorkZoneAlert.

Continue reading “Talking Work Zone Safety: “He’s the best dad ever””