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14 chapter three Survey: How Transit Agencies Use Social Media Introduction exact question wording). All but one agency considered this goal "very important" (97% of responding agencies) and the This chapter presents findings from the survey conducted average ranking was 4.0. Also rated "very important" were for this synthesis study. The following sections describe the following: how responding transit agencies use social media, including specific applications, goals, strategies for managing content, Improve customer satisfaction (85% of responding and integration with other agency activities. agencies/average = 3.8) Improve agency image (76% of responding agencies/ average = 3.7). Social Media Applications The survey conducted for this synthesis study asked respondents Recruit and keep staff was one of the least important goals which social media applications they use (multiple responses for using social media. This goal received the lowest average were allowed). Among the 35 organizations answering this rating, at 1.9, and 38% of responding agencies said this was question, the top three applications were Twitter (91% of "not important at all." Also unimportant for social media was responding agencies), Facebook (89%), and YouTube (80%). Save money. Seventeen percent of responding agencies said this goal was "not important at all" and the average rating was 2.6. Table 3 summarizes these responses. Agencies responding to the synthesis survey used social media for a wide range of purposes. Among the most common were providing agency news, real-time alerts, and contests Target Markets for and promotions. Transit providers were least likely to use Social Media Applications social media for posting job listings and soliciting comments for public hearings (see Table 2). Although social media channels have users in all demographic groups, survey respondents were especially likely to use these applications to reach everyday riders, along with young Survey responses suggest that agencies try to match type adults and students. As Table 4 indicates, the vast majority of content with the social media platform. This was especially of responding agencies used Twitter and Facebook to reach apparent for real-time service alerts, where Twitter was pre- everyday riders, young adults, and students. Most agencies ferred by a sizable margin (77% of responding agencies). also used these channels to connect with minorities, low- Twitter and Facebook were the platforms of choice for dis- income communities, seniors, and people with disabilities. seminating agency news, meeting and event notices, contests Respondents also used Facebook and, to a lesser extent, and promotions, and general service news. For feature stories, Twitter to communicate with external stakeholders. About transit agencies preferred Facebook (57%) and blogs (40%). half of the responding agencies reported using YouTube, A handful of agencies reported using LinkedIn, mostly for job mostly to reach out to everyday riders, young adults, and listings (14%) and service information (9%). stakeholders. Only about one-third of agencies used blogs, primarily to connect with external stakeholders, seniors, and young adults. Interestingly, almost half of responding Goals for Using Social Media agencies said they used Facebook to communicate with their The survey asked responding agencies to review a series own employees, substantially more than used the profes- of commonly stated goals for introducing social media and sional networking site LinkedIn, although no examples were rate the importance of each. To help compare the goals, a provided. weighted average was calculated for the importance of each goal using a four-point scale ("not important at all" = 1 and Effectiveness of Social Media "very important" = 4). Survey respondents were asked to rate the effectiveness of The most important goal for nearly every agency was social media in two dimensions: (1) achieving agency goals; Communicate with current riders (italics are used to show and (2) reaching specific markets.

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15 Table 2 Type of Information Provided and Social Media Application Used Platform Twitter Facebook Blog YouTube LinkedIn Agency News 86% 80% 37% 23% 3% Service Alerts (real-time) 77% 49% 9% 3% 0% Contests and Promotions 69% 77% 23% 17% 0% Meeting and Event Notices 66% 71% 31% 3% 3% Service Info (static) 63% 69% 29% 20% 9% Press Releases and Statements 63% 60% 23% 9% 3% Other News 57% 63% 31% 14% 3% Feature Stories 31% 57% 40% 29% 0% Job Listings 20% 23% 3% 0% 14% Public Hearing Comments 11% 26% 20% 9% 0% Other 11% 17% 6% 14% 3% Multiple responses allowed. Responses expressed as percentage of total responding agencies (N = 35). Table 3 Importance of Social Media Goals Not Slightly Very Goal No. Important Important Important Important Average Communicate with Current Riders 33 0% 0% 3% 97% 4.0 Improve Customer Satisfaction 33 0% 6% 9% 85% 3.8 Improve Agency Image 33 0% 6% 18% 76% 3.7 Reach Potential Riders 32 0% 9% 22% 69% 3.6 Distribute Real-time Service Info 32 3% 13% 19% 66% 3.5 Strengthen Community Support 33 0% 12% 21% 67% 3.5 Distribute General Service Info 33 3% 6% 45% 45% 3.3 Increase Ridership 33 3% 15% 30% 52% 3.3 Obtain Feedback on Projects 32 3% 19% 31% 47% 3.2 Save Money 29 17% 31% 24% 28% 2.6 Recruit and Keep Staff 29 38% 41% 17% 3% 1.9 Percentage is based on number of agencies responding to question, shown in column marked "No." Weighted average was calculated from responses using a four-point scale where 1 = "not important at all" and 4 = "very important." N/A responses were excluded.