Social Media Webinar: A few thoughts on value of online, mobile communications

Every so often I am asked to share some thoughts on social media, transportation communications, public involvement and other topics that we tend to tackle here at Talking Transportation. Wednesday was one of those days and it was a delightful 90 minutes or so of hearing about powerful social media tools and ongoing transportation-focused social media research that is underway.

“Social Media and ITS,” sponsored by Thinking Highways included presentations by several experts in research and transportation issues including Larry Ehl, publisher of Transportation Issues Daily, and Andy Palisanamy, well-known among social media folks as @TranspoGooru. I won’t rehash too much here, but I encourage you to check out a recording of the webinar. You will need to register your name and email address, but I think the content is worth it.

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State DOTs Expand Use of Social Media but Implementation Challenges Remain

Social Media ReportWhile most state departments of transportation now actively use social media in their regular communication programs, further adoption of the online tools is being hampered by some familiar age-old challenges, according to the fourth annual State DOT Social Media Survey by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

The survey, which is conducted each spring, asks state departments of transportation about their use of social media tools and issues related to deployment of social media tools as a way to measure the adoption, implementation and best practices for the industry. (Editor’s note: Full disclosure time. I annually help write the survey and help analyze the results of this report for AASHTO, which is my employer).

This year’s report found that nearly 90 percent of respondents are using both Facebook and Twitter accounts to communicate with the public, by far the most popular social media tools for state DOTs. By comparison, “In 2010, less than half of state DOTs used Facebook and only 26 states had Twitter accounts.” Continue reading “State DOTs Expand Use of Social Media but Implementation Challenges Remain”

Media relations and the ‘social’ evolution

Angel with mobile phone
Angel with mobile phone (Photo credit: Akbar Sim)

I was having lunch with a reporter friend this week and he casually mentioned something that nearly knocked me off my seat.

I am a former newspaper reporter, having worked deadlines and ink before the Internet became a common tool. Working a beat meant I left the newsroom and wandered through the local city hall and county courthouse. Not only did I know my story subjects personally, I could see the family photos on the walls of their offices and often talked about what they did on weekends outside of work. I talked to them regularly on the phone.

That was also in the mid-1990s before September 11, when access to government officials was much easier than it is today. In fact, I rarely recall worrying about media relations officers as filters, relying on the local police sergeant for tips and the state DOT press office for standard road closure alerts. But of course all that has changed.

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