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Chapter 2 in thesis about social networking

Page 12 Share Suggested Citation: Overview of Social Media. Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation. The National Academies Press. It includes a brief description of social media, highlights how government uses social media, presents the demographics of social media users, and describes approaches to measuring the impacts of these applications.

What are Social Media? Social media is a term that refers to a number of web-based applications through which users interact with one another. Social media applica- tions encourage users to share their experiences, opinions, knowledge, and sometimes their locations. These connections can contribute to a sense of engagement or loyalty among social media users. Figure 2 compares the characteristics of traditional media and social media.

As the figure shows, traditional media approaches are centralized and focus on delivering one or more messages to customers. Social media methods are collaborative and rely on sharing information and soliciting feedback for their effectiveness.

Using social media, such as YouTube and Twitter, organizations can post information that individuals can share, comment on, and sometimes modify 1. Following are examples of social media platforms commonly used by transit agencies. All quotations from social media sites were accessed from public posts between July 2010 and June 2011. Spelling and typographical errors were corrected.

A glossary of social media terms can be found at the end of this report.


Agencies and officials at all levels of government, from city hall to the White House, use social media. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter were the most commonly used web-based tools among these agencies 2. The Urban Transportation Monitor surveyed transporta- tion organizations about their use of social media 3.

Twitter was most commonly used for brief communications and service updates. Facebook was used for announcements and service updates, but also for meet- ing notices, community-building, and branding.

YouTube videos covered a wide range of topics, including how-to-ride chapter two literatUre revieW: Among transit agencies, reasons for using social media typically fall into five broad categories, which are summarized here. Figure 3 illustrates some examples. Twitter is exceptionally well suited to providing service alerts, and many transit operators use it for this purpose. Blogs and Facebook also allow organizations to update readers about a board meeting, a fare increase, or a new route.

For example, the Toronto Transit Commission uses Twitter to relay service updates, whereas MTA uses Twitter to remind the public about scheduled board meetings and to direct them to a live webcast. Public information Many transit organizations use social media to provide general information about services, fares, and long-range planning projects.

For example, the Regional Transportation Commis- sion of Southern Nevada posted a YouTube video to showcase the features of its new fleet of double-decker buses, and the Utah Transit Authority is one of several agencies to use social media to highlight local destinations and events that can be reached by transit. At the federal level, U. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood uses Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and his Fast Lane blog to provide information about department initiatives; periodically he answers constituent questions about federal transportation policy through YouTube.

LA Metro sets up Facebook pages for specific long-range projects and sends out live tweets during public meetings. These connections can take many forms, but the goals are the same: Louis posts photographs of community events, such as a bus-painting day at a local elementary school, on its Chapter 2 in thesis about social networking page.

Organizations used blogs to promote more in-depth discussion, chapter 2 in thesis about social networking LinkedIn was used for net- working and recruiting purposes. Why USe Social Media? A survey conducted for FHWA had similar find- ings 5.

  1. Many of these services allow users to track the number of times read- ers click on the shortened link, which allows organizations to determine what links are popular and which are not.
  2. Another Pew study focuses on use of government social media sites 12. As the figure shows, traditional media approaches are centralized and focus on delivering one or more messages to customers.
  3. Among transit agencies, reasons for using social media typically fall into five broad categories, which are summarized here.

State departments of transportation reported using Web 2. A few agencies also used collaborative Web 2. In Virginia, Hampton Roads Transit set up a LinkedIn site that allows current employees to connect with one another and enables potential chapter 2 in thesis about social networking to learn more about the organization, whereas Tulsa Transit has used Twitter to announce job openings. In Texas, the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Author- ity used Facebook to recognize a long-time employee on his retirement, and DART has created a series of videos for its YouTube channel that feature interviews with agency staff.

Although not conclusive, research suggests that social media attract users from multiple demographic categories, as summarized here. Moreover, older users are out- pacing younger adults in their adoption of social media. Although part of the rapid growth rate for older users can be attributed to their smaller representation in the social space, this trend is still noteworthy. Consistent with these findings, nearly half of Americans maintained a personal profile on at least one social networking site in 2010, which was double the proportion recorded just two years earlier.

The average Facebook user is said to be 38 years old and the average Twitter user is 39 years old. Business-oriented LinkedIn attracts older users, with an average age of 44, and sites such as MySpace appeal to younger visitors average age is 31 years old 8. Most social networking sites have more female users than male users. However, it should be noted that these estimates are based on proprietary sources and no information is available about the methodology used.

Because social media sites do not generally require proof of identity beyond a valid e-mail address, account holders may not always be truthful about characteristics such as age and gender. Indeed, they may not be persons at all.

Less information is available about other demographic groups.

While this information suggests that most U. While smart phones have made the Internet more accessible, and some even offer integration with social media applications, they pose their own usability challenges. When users access the Internet exclusively by cell phone, no matter how smart or sophisticated the device, they may not have access to all features of a website or application.

Another Pew study focuses on use of government social media sites 12.

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Although the proportion of Americans who interact with government agencies using social media sites is small, there is little difference among the three major ethnic and racial groups. Despite similar levels of activity, however, minority Americans are more likely than white Americans to believe that government use of electronic communications helps keep citizens informed and makes agencies more accessible.

There was an especially large gap in attitudes toward government use of social media. Although the study did not highlight social media specifically, it did ask respondents whether they used tools such as blogs, e-mails, or text messages to obtain government information.

At a minimum, these findings suggest the need for additional research on the correlation between social networking and factors such as wealth and education 12.

Social Media MetricS The science of measuring social media use is still evolv- ing. Many platforms provide some level of built-in statis- tics. These applications also provide account holders with additional tools for more detailed analysis, such as Facebook Insights and YouTube Insight. For example, Facebook Insights tracks the number of views for a post.

By comparing impressions for each post, users can learn which topics resonate with their Facebook followers. In addition to these prepackaged statistics, numer- ous free and fee-based third-party applications are available for gaining additional insight into the effectiveness of social media activities. Google Analytics, for example, is primarily used for analyzing website visits; however, this free tool also enables agencies to analyze how visitors navigate to their website including referrals from one or more social media platforms and what kind of information they are looking for through search-engine keywords.

By drilling down a little further into the collected statistics, agencies can learn what pages on their website are most popular among these visitors, where these readers live city, state, and countrylength of visit, and other useful characteristics.

Especially common for use with Twitter, where the length of posts is constrained, link shorteners take a long web address and condense it into a short version for easier posting and forwarding.

Many of these services allow users to track the number of times read- ers click on the shortened link, which allows organizations to determine what links are popular and which are not. Some industry experts call for more sophisticated analy- sis, but this can require an investment in analytic software.

Owyang and Lovett argue that simply collecting data without further analysis does not allow organizations to draw mean- ingful conclusions 15. For example, they say that it is not enough to track number of blog comments. Although the advice is geared toward private businesses that have the resources to purchase sophisticated software, the message applies to transit organizations as well. Counting without context does not create a complete picture of social media effectiveness.

Most of the agencies surveyed for this study reported attempting in some way to analyze the effectiveness of their social media strategies.