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16 Table 4 Social Media Application by Target Market Target Market No. Twitter Facebook YouTube Blog LinkedIn Everyday Riders 33 91% 85% 52% 33% 3% Young Adults 33 85% 88% 48% 36% 3% Students 33 79% 88% 45% 27% 3% External Stakeholders 33 67% 79% 48% 39% 9% Minorities 33 67% 64% 30% 30% 3% Low-income Communities 33 64% 64% 33% 27% 3% Seniors/Older Americans 33 61% 61% 33% 36% 3% People with Disabilities 33 61% 58% 33% 30% 3% Agency Employees 33 24% 45% 21% 18% 12% Multiple responses allowed. Responses expressed as percentage of total responding agencies (N = 33). Achieving Agency Goals (average = 3.0). As Table 5 shows, the average score compiled for this measure falls in the middle of the range, reflecting the Respondents rated the effectiveness of social media in meeting split between the organizations that considered social media their stated goals using a four-point scale, from "not effective effective in this regard and those that did not. at all" to "very effective" (see Table 5). Agencies rated social media "very effective" in accomplishing the following: Social media do not appear to be widely used for commu- nicating with agency staff. Almost two-thirds of respondents · Communicate with current riders (58% of responding said that the question did not apply to their agency, and 58% agencies) · Distribute real-time information (43%) of those responding said that social media were "slightly · Distribute general service information (42%). effective" for recruiting and keeping staff. Many agencies noted that social media strategies were To further assess the effectiveness of social media, a com- "not effective at all" in meeting the following goals: parison was made between the perceived effectiveness of social media in reaching agency goals and the stated importance of · Recruit and keep staff (17%) each goal using the weighted averages. As in previous survey · Save money (15%) questions, "very effective" = 4 and "not effective at all" = 1. · Increase ridership (11%). Figure 7 compares the importance of a goal and the effec- Of particular interest are the responses related to the tiveness of social media in accomplishing that goal. As the effectiveness of social media in reaching current and poten- chart shows, communicating with current riders is the most tial riders. Although social media appeared to be a good way important goal for agencies and also the area where social to communicate with current riders (58% of respondents said media can be most effective. For other highly rated goals, it was "very effective" in this regard), the platform was far less including customer satisfaction and agency image, the gap effective for reaching potential riders or increasing ridership. between goal and effectiveness was wider. In a few cases, Only 13% of respondents considered social media "very there appeared to be a disconnect between stated importance effective" for reaching potential customers (average = 2.7) and effectiveness. For example, agencies considered social and 11% said it was "very effective" for increasing ridership media applications to be most effective for distributing real- (average = 2.4). time and general service information; these attributes did not rank among the most important for agencies on average. Respondents disagreed about the role of social media in saving money. Although these applications may have the potential to reduce costs associated with printed materials and Reaching Target Markets postage, for example, the additional staffing requirements may offset these economies for some organizations. Accordingly, Survey respondents were also asked how effective social media 40% of respondents considered social media "very effective" channels were in reaching different market segments. Consis- for saving money, but 15% said it was "not effective at all" tent with the way agencies reported using these platforms,
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17 Table 5 Effectiveness of Social Media Applications in Achieving Agency Goals Not Slightly Very Item No. Effective Effective Effective Effective Average Communicate with Current Riders 33 0% 12% 30% 58% 3.5 Distribute General Info 33 0% 15% 42% 42% 3.3 Distribute Real-time Service Info 28 0% 25% 32% 43% 3.2 Improve Agency Image 33 0% 18% 58% 24% 3.1 Save Money 20 15% 15% 30% 40% 3.0 Obtain Feedback on Projects 30 3% 30% 37% 30% 2.9 Improve Customer Satisfaction 33 0% 27% 55% 18% 2.9 Strengthen Community Support 30 0% 37% 43% 20% 2.8 Reach Potential Riders 30 0% 43% 43% 13% 2.7 Increase Ridership 27 11% 52% 26% 11% 2.4 Recruit and Keep Staff 12 17% 58% 17% 8% 2.2 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 effective at all" and 4 = "very effective." N/A responses were excluded. they rated social media most effective for communicating with them differently when responding. The survey also included everyday riders, young adults, and students. Social media tribal communities on the list of target markets, but the results were considered least effective for reaching seniors and are not reported because of the small number of responses. low-income communities. Responses are summarized below and presented in Table 6. Note that the survey did not define · Everyday riders--Most reporting agencies consid- market groups such as everyday riders, young, adults, and ered social media "very effective" (35%) or "effective" low-income communities, and agencies may have interpreted (55%) for reaching everyday riders or commuters. FIGURE 7 Compare importance of agency goals and effectiveness of social media in achieving goals. (A weighted average was calculated from responses using a four-point scale where "not important/effective at all" = 1 and "very important/effective" = 4. N/A responses were excluded.)