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42 service and help the organization build stronger relationships transit agencies with the tools for estimating the costs and with its community of riders and stakeholders. benefits of social media, perhaps by including sample metrics or performance indicators drawn from other industries. Just Get Started Cybersecurity Concerns Agencies followed different paths to social networking. Some used a measured approach; the Metropolitan Transportation Industry experts consistently emphasized the vulnerability of Authority, for example, described its approach as crawling, social media applications to security threats, including viruses then walking, and finally running. For TransLink, the Olympic and malware. However, most of the survey respondents gave Games provided an opportunity to test the reach of social this issue low priority, and the vast majority said they had media. Some agencies monitored other organizations' efforts not encountered any cybersecurity issues related to their use before they jumped in. However, no matter how they got there, of social media. The reasons for this apparent disconnect agencies agreed that social media were worth trying. are not known. The security threats may be overstated or the responding agencies may not recognize the potential impacts of a security breach. Another possible explanation is the com- Keep Moving position of the sample itself. Because only agencies already using social media were invited to participate in the survey, Social media are evolving and several agencies adapted their organizations that chose not to use social media because of social media strategies as they moved forward. The challenge security concerns were not represented. Additional research for agencies is to stay flexible, expect the unexpected, and could explore this issue further to determine whether social adapt accordingly. media leave transit agencies particularly vulnerable to cyber threats and, if so, to identify recommended actions. Areas for Future Study The synthesis study identified the following gaps in knowledge Access for People with Disabilities or areas for additional research. Social media platforms lag behind the Internet in accessibility for people with disabilities. One study found that 62% of indi- Social Media Policy viduals who use assistive screen readers considered social media "somewhat accessible" overall. Although federal agencies are Although industry experts believe that having a social media required to conform to Section 508 accessibility guidelines for policy is critical, most of the transit properties participating in their web applications, some analysts argue that those rules do the survey did not have guidelines in place. About half were in not apply to government use of social media sites, because the the process of drafting a policy and others incorporated social sites are privately owned and operated. Additional research media guidance into existing agency policies or developed could help organizations identify features to improve the acces- discrete elements such as Facebook posting guidelines. A few sibility of social media sites and contribute to the debate about smaller agencies, where senior executives developed much how federal accessibility rules apply to social media. of the online content, did not see the need for a social media policy. Additional research could identify elements of a social media policy that are relevant to public transit agencies. Multicultural Considerations The demographics of social media users are not yet well Social Media Performance Metrics documented and questions remain about whether social media platforms can bridge the digital divide. Although Social media platforms are generally free of charge, but they not conclusive, the study suggests that social media attract can incur long-term costs to an agency. Although the agencies users from multiple demographic categories. For example, responding to the survey were generally able to estimate the although the vast majority of adults aged 1829 were social number of hours employees devoted to social media, most did networkers (86%), so were nearly half of those aged 5064 not put a price tag on the effort. Moreover, most used a very (47%) and a quarter of those 65 and over (26%). Research basic approach to measuring the effectiveness of their social has shown that AfricanAmericans and Hispanics participate media activities by relying on informal feedback and using in the social web, frequently through mobile devices, but built-in metrics, such as counting "friends" or followers. limited information is available about other minority groups Just over half used a third-party application such as Google including AsianAmericans. Further research could provide Analytics. Although these metrics can provide a good over- more insight into the demographics of social media users and view of activity, they do not provide all the information help determine whether public transportation agencies need agencies may need to better understand the effectiveness of to take additional actions to ensure that all riders can access their social media activities. Additional research could provide online information and social networking sites.
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43 Integration with Other Agency Activities Potential Revenues Almost all agencies responding to the survey coordinated Industry experts anticipate growth in several areas, including social media with their marketing and communications location-based technology and social-buying services. Only plans. About three of four reported that they coordinated about half of the surveyed agencies reported considering the their social media efforts with service advisories and just revenue potential of social media, and information about the under half with real-time service alerts. Despite the growth potential of these applications to generate revenue for transit in mobile applications and traveler and citizen information providers is extremely limited. A few government agencies services, only a few agencies reported integrating social researched the potential of accepting advertisements on their media with these additional activities. Additional research website with inconclusive results, and one bicycle-sharing ser- could help identify the potential for better coordinating social vice used a group coupon service to sell new memberships in its media activities with other platforms for providing agency program. Additional research could help identify the potential information. revenue opportunities associated with these applications.