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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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”

A Road to Reality: Taking Transportation Myths Head On

Longtime readers of this blog know that its focus is on the practice of communicating about transportation. This blog does not attempt to take on the politics of transportation.

Gov. Rick Snyder (left) and MDOT Director Kirk Steudle discuss transportation investment during a news conference. Photo courtesy Michigan DOT.
Gov. Rick Snyder (left) and MDOT Director Kirk Steudle discuss transportation investment during a news conference. Photo courtesy Michigan DOT.

However, in writing about one it is sometimes impossible not to include mention of the other. While that is perhaps the situation here, the interesting strategy behind a particular Michigan Department of Transportation communication effort is worth noting.

Continue reading “A Road to Reality: Taking Transportation Myths Head On”

Watching transportation: What’s on the other social media?

cigar box guitar

Much has been said and written recently about Twitter and Facebook as engagement and communication tools. But there is probably a tool we all use that might rest forgotten in your communications tool box – video.

A survey of state departments of transportation published by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in August 2011 found that 24 of 38 states responding to the survey had established some kind of presence on YouTube.com. It makes sense. YouTube has become the second largest internet search engine behind Google. If you can think it, someone has probably created a video of it.

Continue reading “Watching transportation: What’s on the other social media?”