Thursday, October 14, 2010

Social Media- Are We Doing This Right?

It's been an extremely busy two days, so sorry for the lack of blog posts. I just finished up sitting on a panel for the American Planning Association conference in Boise. The panel was on using social media to get your message out and the challenges faced by government agencies doing so. It was pretty interesting. Most of the other agency representatives on the panel are doing strictly Facebook and/or Twitter. Our challenge at SRTC though is that we're a planning agency, so don't always have something of interest to the general public to put out every day, or even every week. Without fresh content, people tend to quit following you.

That's part of the reason we chose to blog initially. It provides a more varied platform, which means we can post our own news when it's happening, or we can help spread the news of other agencies, such as when the City has a public meeting, or WSDOT is doing construction work on the freeway or Spokane Transit is making service cuts.

Some insights I learned from the other panelists:

- People born between 1981 and 2000 are known as the 'Millenial Generation' and are generally getting the bulk of their current events information from their phones.

- Many agencies have actually hired positions just to do social media or have contracted with public relations firms to manage their social media accounts.

- Some items that we put out to the mainstream media doesn't get publicized, so using Twitter or Facebook or blogs lets you get the message directly to the public.

- Because we do behind-the-scenes planning and don't build roads or plow snow, The 'face' of an agency like SRTC is often our website or blog so we need to put some effort into it.

Okay, I'm getting kicked out of my hotel room now so have to wrap this up. Any comments in regards to social media in relation to transportation or public agencies?


Barb Chamberlain said...

The blog is awesome--best source of transportation news in the region by a long shot.

I can see establishing a Twitter feed to provide links to the blog as a reminder that pulls people here. Media are on Twitter so it's another way to connect with them. It's faster to tweet a link to someone else's release than to repurpose into a blog post so you can use more news that way too.

What's interesting about Facebook is the opportunity for interactions to show up in the news feeds of people who comment.

The frustration (speaking as a blogger) is that comments on FB about a blog post aren't on the blog itself so you end up with two different comment threads. It's richer if everyone can interact in one space. But if you gain more attention/interaction because of the network on Facebook you do reach more people.

An intermediate step would be to add the FB "like" button to the blog so that if I like a post, that can show up in my FB feed. That could bring in some new readers.

(And some of us are tweeting & FBing links for you already :D)


SRTC Staff said...

Thanks Barb. Some great ideas that I'll follow up on. My main challenge has been a lack of time, so it may take me a couple days to work on. I need either another arm or a typing monkey.

vanillajane said...

Sorry if BiketoWork Barb already said this, but I'm too tired to read her post. She's a fireball and I'm exhausted right now.

If you put a Facebook link on the individual posts, I would be linking stories pretty frequently. Especially the one about spidey, star wars, etc. Then Alison would see them and comment. I wonder if the comments on FB would come back to the blog or not. I guess that's one for tech support to answer.

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.