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33 light-hearted, but also serious and reflective of the organization. Find the right person--Find someone on staff that enjoys social media and make sure that individual knows the parameters for the agency. You do not have to be an innovator--LANTA learned about social media by following what other agencies were doing. You have nothing to lose--It can be a little scary at first, but social networking is worth trying. Social Media Links Website: Facebook: Valley-Metro/129767331032 Blog: Twitter: YouTube: FIGURE 12 MTA's Facebook page shows photographs from a track replacement project. Metropolitan Transportation Authority MTA is a multimodal transportation organization in the New Agency Considerations York metropolitan area. MTA has several operating sub- sidiaries, including New York City Transit (NYCT), Long As a large agency with multiple subsidiaries, MTA faces a set Island Railroad (LIRR), Metro-North Railroad, Long Island of unique challenges. The various subsidiaries have an online Bus, and Bridges and Tunnels. NYCT provides bus, subway, presence--including (but not limited to) separate Twitter feeds bus rapid transit, and demand-response service to an area of for NYCT, LIRR, Metro-North Railroad, and MetroCard-- 321 square miles with a population of 8 million, and it pro- and ensuring a consistent message is critical. MTA's press vided 3.2 billion unlinked passenger trips in 2009. office typically defines and distributes the common agency message within MTA (especially important for weather- related information), whereas staff at the subsidiaries take Social Media Overview responsibility for developing mode-specific messages tai- lored to their customers. Despite its size, MTA does not have Agency staff reports that MTA uses the following social media dedicated staff for social media. Employees from marketing channels: Facebook (see Figure 12), Twitter, YouTube, and and communications (including the press office) and admin- Flickr. In addition, the agency has a Google group for applica- istrative offices have primary responsibility for MTA's social tion developers. While recognizing that each platform is suited media activities. Marketing and communications employees to different purposes, MTA considers Twitter the most effec- dedicate about 40 hours per month and administrative per- tive platform because it is up-to-the-minute and allows one- sonnel allocate 20 hours. These individuals frequently call on on-one communication. Flickr has been the least successful workers in other groups within the MTA to provide informa- channel because it lacks the kind of user interaction available tion for the authority's social media channels. "We don't usu- with Facebook and Twitter, but it has served well as an edu- ally lack for content," one communications employee said. cational and cultural resource, as an online gallery, and as a MTA staff took steps to receive all necessary internal reviews way for the press office to quickly share photos with editors. and approvals before moving into social media, working with MTA will continue to post photographs on Flickr, especially in-house counsel to review the legal implications, including for events. However, the agency will use Facebook and Twitter censorship and privacy issues. Although MTA does not have a for in-the-moment connections, saying "The home run hits are written social media policy, the agency has developed certain there." Although the MTA posts some service alerts on Twit- agency practices concerning records retention. MTA retains ter, the agency's overall strategy is to use Twitter to promote electronic and paper copies of social media posts and staff the automated SMS and web-based alerts. In addition, MTA members summarize social media activities for senior man- also uses social media to foster goodwill among customers, to agement in monthly reports. Personnel use readily available share information about agency services, and to notify riders statistics to track social media activity, to assess the impact of about special deals, such as discounts for passholders. changes, and to identify successful practices.