TikTok Is More Popular Than Facebook, Should DOTs Follow?

It’s nearly 2020 and social media has been a thing for more than a decade. So it should surprise no one that social media trends come and go. There was MySpace, Vine, Meerkat, Google Plus , Friendster and … so many more platforms that have faded after promising starts that it is hard to remember them all.

Picking which new platforms are worth the time to learn and develop is a serious question for communications professionals, including those at state DOTs. There are only so many hours in a day, and smart managers have to understand their abilities and anticipate trends worth pursuing and those to ignore.

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Getting to ‘Know’: Tools Helping DOTs Reach People During Emergencies

Winter is coming and for state DOTs that means preparing to clear roads and assist motorists. Public information campaigns for years have focused on helping motorists “know before you go” by checking web sites and apps for the latest road condition and weather information. Additionally, officials have urged motorists to winterize their vehicles and to carry emergency supplies.

Traffic backed up on Interstate 5 in Vancouver, Wash., in Feb. 2019. Courtesy WSDOT licensed under CC BY 2.0.

But sometimes things happen – a sudden storm or natural disaster – that are so unforeseen that the transportation system is tied up and motorists are stranded. What communication strategies are in place for those situations?

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Driver Alert: Humor Highlights Award-Winning Virginia PSA

Each year, the AASHTO Committee on Transportation Communications known as TransComm, hands out awards to state DOTs for outstanding communication, advertising and marketing campaigns and tactics.

One of the 2019 honorees, a public service announcement produced by the Virginia Department of Transportation, used humor to capture drivers’ attention and raise awareness for an annual challenge.

Virginia DOT used humor to remind motorists to watch out for deer.

During deer mating season, drivers have a much higher chance of encountering deer in the roadway, especially during dawn and dusk when visibility is lessened.

According to the VDOT award entry, more than 60,000 vehicle crashes involving deer took place last year. VDOT posted the PSA on Facebook, reaching more than 99,800 users. The 30-second video was shared 652 times on Facebook. It’s been viewed more than 24,000 times.

Congratulations to VDOT for using humor to highlight a serious safety issue for drivers.

New AASHTO Report Shows State DOT Social Media Trends

smreportcoverIt was only a handful of years ago that the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, my work-day employer, began polling its member state departments of transportation about their growing implementation of social media tools.

 

In 2009, less than half of states used Facebook and then most were tepid in their level of engagement. The dominant tool for state DOTs was Twitter, but it was used almost exclusively for sharing roadway traffic conditions and emergency information.

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