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31 resources. The barriers to entry were low, and the only invest- DART's social media policy is an addendum to the agen- ment needed was a consumer-grade camcorder. DART tries cy's communications policy and governs employee access and to make sure that its social media channels complement one online behavior. Only members of the media relations staff another. YouTube videos are promoted on Facebook and Twit- are authorized to publish official communications; according ter, and all platforms encourage users to visit the main website. to DART's survey responses these employees spend about 180 hours per month on social media activities. Any DART employee posting to social media sites is required to identify "It's All Connected" himself or herself as an employee and to refer readers to the agency's website. DART started using YouTube as part of the outreach efforts for its Green Line light rail project. The goal was to build DART tracks page views and followers for its social excitement for the project and to sustain that interest over the media activities. The primary goal is to make sure that traffic 18-month construction period. Media relations staff developed continues to grow. a YouTube campaign called "I'm Connected," which was part of the broader marketing theme, "It's All Connected." Lessons Learned The video campaign was designed to engage customers and employees by creating and posting short videos showing DART offered the following advice and lessons learned. how employees were connected to the Green Line project. For example, a DART police officer talked about her role in Recognize the strengths of each social media ensuring passenger safety, while a graphics designer high- platform--DART tries to take advantage of the unique lighted his behind-the-scenes role in updating the system strengths of each social medium platform and says, map. DART's goal was to post one update per week until the "If you're using everything for everything, you're not project was completed. using everything effectively." Emphasize the message, not the technology--DART's By featuring its employees in the videos, especially those videos showcasing bus operators are deliberately who normally did not work with the public, DART was able informal. to "put a human face on a bunch of steel, concrete, and cop- Consider long-term costs--Although the barriers to per." Media relations staff met with senior executives at the entry are low for Facebook and Twitter, the costs of early stages of the project to garner internal support for staying are high. Social media sites require active mon- the project, and DART characterizes employee response to itoring and maintenance. the project as "terrific." Social Media Links Once the Green Line opened, DART found other ways to use YouTube and, in particular, opportunities to feature oper- Website: www.dart.org ations personal. Because the new rail line resulted in many Facebook: www.facebook.com/DARTDallas bus route changes, for example, DART created videos with Twitter: www.twitter.com/dartmedia bus operators showing customers how to make connections at YouTube: www.youtube.com/dartdallas. the new stations. Using operators allowed DART to continue its efforts to build a personal connection with its riders. Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority Agency Considerations LANTA operates bus and demand-response services in Penn- Acknowledging that customers have multiple transportation sylvania's Lehigh Valley, including the cities of Allentown alternatives, DART hopes to use social media platforms to and Bethlehem. LANTA's service area covers 106 square personalize the riding experience. In the survey, DART rated miles with a population of 389,000; in 2009, the agency pro- social media "very effective" for communicating with riders vided 6.0 million unlinked passenger trips. and with distributing real-time information and "effective" for other goals, including improving customer satisfaction and improving the agency image. Social Media Overview Also in the survey, DART reported using Facebook, Twit- According to agency staff, LANTA currently uses the follow- ter, and YouTube to reach everyday riders, students, young ing social media platforms: agency blog, Facebook, Twitter, adults, seniors, people with disabilities, low-income com- and YouTube. The agency uses Facebook (see Figure 11) and munities, and external stakeholders. The agency considered Twitter to provide service information, both real-time alerts social media tools "effective" for reaching these groups, with and general information, as well as news, meeting notices, the exception of seniors and low-income communities. For contests and promotions. LANTA's blog covers less time- these markets, social media were "slightly effective." sensitive information, including feature stories, agency news,

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32 The agency's use of social media outlets supports a num- ber of strategies. These include building stakeholder and general support for public transit and presenting transit as a "hip" and relevant entity within the community. The social media campaigns also address funding issues, both locally and on a state level. Finally, the intent of LANTA's board of directors is to expand use among discretionary or choice riders to increase ridership and to add value to the product itself. Although the board fully understands the role of transit in meeting social service needs, they also see the attraction of choice riders as essential to the growth and improving the image of public transit. Accordingly, LANTA's Facebook fans include a mix of consumers, employees, and stakeholders (e.g., chamber of commerce, organizations promoting downtown, environmen- tal groups, restaurateurs, and advocates for regionalization). Although most of LANTA's riders have cell phones and Internet connections, the agency estimates that only 20% to FIGURE 11 LANTA uses Facebook to connect with its 30% of its social network followers are consumers. Six col- community. leges are located in the Lehigh Valley. Because these insti- tutions provide their own transportation services, LANTA does not perceive area students as the primary target market for its social media strategy. However, the Lehigh Valley is press releases, and public hearing comments. The agency uses home to many young adults who have opted to remain in the YouTube for news, contests, how-to-ride videos, and televi- area after graduating from college or who chose to return or sion commercials. Generally, LANTA updates its Facebook relocate to the community because of economic and lifestyle page first and uses an automated service to distribute the posts goals. These 20- to 34-year-old young professionals expect to other social media channels. Service alerts are updated as area service providers to offer online access to information needed, and LANTA posts updates for news items a few times as well as to participate in social media. a week. Other features are generally updated once a month or less frequently. LANTA does not have a social media policy, but the agency may develop one in the future. Although the agency initially anticipated some negative postings from disgruntled Agency Considerations employees, this has not been the case. The agency also dis- LANTA made the decision to use social media after an infor- misses concerns about cybersecurity, saying that this is an mal assessment of the Web 2.0 environment. As other public issue for all Internet use, not just social media. agencies began to enter the social space, LANTA recognized the potential benefits of joining the conversation. Initially con- LANTA tracks fans and followers, but does not use detailed analytics to measure the performance of its social media cerned about a digital divide, the agency researched the charac- activities. Saying that no one can predict what the constantly teristics of social media users and saw the level of penetration evolving social media space will look like in five years, across all markets. Convinced that people in all demographic LANTA prefers to "go with the flow." Social media comple- groups were engaged with social media, LANTA moved ahead. ment other communications channels for LANTA, but do not replace them. The agency first started with MySpace, but quickly moved to Facebook to take advantage of the better infrastructure, The ability to use social media at no cost to the agency was additional utilities, and the flexibility to create a page more a major consideration for LANTA. A senior manager creates suitable for a government organization. The transition the updates with support from administrative staff; together, to Facebook is now complete and LANTA no longer uses they spend about 16 hours per month on social media activities. MySpace. LANTA officials perceive the difference as follows: "Facebook was serious; MySpace was more social." The agency struggled a bit at first, and did not consider the MySpace Lessons Learned interface to be intuitive. However, LANTA observed how other organizations used social media and quickly adapted to LANTA offered the following advice and lessons learned. what an executive called "a whole new world." Twitter also had a learning curve, with its 140-character limit and special- Find the right voice--Government agencies have to ized style and syntax, but again the agency found its voice. adopt a voice for social media. It can be humorous and