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.

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Annual Survey Shows States Still Driving Toward Greater Social Media Usage

The 2014 State DOT Social Media Survey shows states overwhelmingly prefer Facebook and Twitter over other social media tools.
The 2014 State DOT Social Media Survey shows states overwhelmingly prefer Facebook and Twitter over other social media tools.

The fifth annual state department of transportation social media survey results were released last month at the annual meeting of TransComm, the AASHTO Subcommittee on Transportation Communications.

(Editor’s note: Full disclosure, I work at AASHTO and oversee the annual survey of state DOTs. Much of the discussion below comes from observations while reviewing raw survey data.)

The survey, started in 2009, confirms what we all probably already suspect. State DOTs are heavily invested in social media outreach both in the operations and public involvement areas. The 2014 survey confirms that not only are the state DOTs utilizing social media tools, many are doing so at a very sophisticated level.
Continue reading “Annual Survey Shows States Still Driving Toward Greater Social Media Usage”

Talking Engagement: Research Report for Transportation Social Media and Public Involvement

Full disclosure, the report was requested by AASHTO’s Center for Environmental Excellence, and I work for AASHTO. The research was conducted through the National Cooperative Highway Research Program and I served as one of the research reviewers. And, finally, the research was conducted by Parsons Brinckerhoff’s Eileen Barron, with whom I recently co-presented a session at the International Association of Public Participation’s North American conference, and former Missouri Department of Transportation Communication Director Shane Peck, also of Parsons Brinckerhoff.

– Lloyd Brown

There is a new research document available online that transportation planners and communicators should consider adding to their reading list. The report, “Potential Use of Social Media in the NEPA Process,” attempts to fill in the knowledge gap between how most transportation agencies utilize social media tools and how the tools might be used in an environmental planning and public involvement process defined under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Continue reading “Talking Engagement: Research Report for Transportation Social Media and Public Involvement”

Incorporating New Media into the Environmental Review Process: A State DOT Overview

Photo courtesy Washington State Department of Transportation/Washington State Ferries
Photo courtesy Washington State Department of Transportation/Washington State Ferries

Incorporating New Media into the Environmental Review Process: A State DOT Overview

Last month the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting brought more than 11,000 people to Washington DC to share research and best practices in all facets of transportation. I was fortunate and honored to have a few minutes to talk about how state departments of transportation are using social media in the public involvement process.