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26 Introduction After the survey was complete, seven agencies were selected as case examples that provided survey responses on unique or effective practices. The primary selection was based on the agency size, geographic locations, and use of social media. The final selection was chosen after consulting with the panel members. Out of seven case examples, three case examples (BART, Capital Metro, and CyRide) consisted of guided interviews with agency staff to gather further details from the survey responses. TableÂ 11 lists the agencies based on key focus areas and specific interests. Details of the case examples are described following the table. AppendixÂ D provides the social media metrics of the case example agencies. Case Example 1: San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit BART is a heavy-rail public transit system that connects the San Francisco Peninsula with communities in the East Bay and South Bay. The system currently provides service to five coun- ties in the large, urbanized area of the greater San FranciscoâOakland, CA, metropolitan area. Pre-COVID, BART carried 405,000 trips on an average weekday and as of July 2021 is now carrying 80,000 trips on weekdays. BARTâs principal mode of transportation is heavy rail or subway. FigureÂ 5 shows the BART website. Social Media Platforms The chief communication officer of BART reported that it uses the following social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, LinkedIn, and TikTok. The agency shares real-time service information, agency news, project updates, press release contents, and official statements via Twitter. Instructional videos on how to use BARTâs services are shared on the BART YouTube channel. Other posts related to emergency alerts and crisis information, agency promotion, and feature stories are frequently shared through BARTâs social media plat- forms. BART uses its Twitter account to conduct polls, live Twitter Town Halls, and Ask Me Anythingâstyle question-and-answer sessions. BART also provides customer service responses and creates cases and service tickets from tweets for later action by its staff. BART holds a Twitter Town Hall at least once a year, conducts Twitter polls a few times a year, and provides customer service responses and follow-up tweets as needed. Agency Considerations In the survey, the BART respondent mentioned that communications with current and pro- spective riders, distribution of general information, crisis communication, improvement of C H A P T E R 4 Case Examples
Case Examples 27Â Â customer satisfaction and agency image, and citizen engagement were the agencyâs most impor- tant goals. BART has undertaken some insightful projects to connect with riders and improve customer satisfaction. Since riders have a tradition of reading on the trains and while waiting on the platform, BART has installed touchless short story dispensers, which print out free short stories at the stations to encourage reading (see FigureÂ 6). The respondent also indicated that BARTâs social media platforms were âvery effectiveâ in achieving most of the agencyâs goals. The agency respondent also indicated that BART is reaching regular riders with the help of its social media platforms. As reflected by the number of likes, comments, shares, and clicks, social media engagement is an important social media metric for BART. Another important metric is awareness, which Focus Area Agencies Timely updates and crisis information BART, MDT, Halifax Transit Public education and awareness CyRide Public engagement The COMET, MDT, BART Transit promotion The COMET Support and influence organizational goals TANK Employee conduct policy TANK, MDT, Capital Metro, BART, Halifax Transit Social media policy MDT, BART, Halifax Transit Archiving social media data MDT Time allocation for social media posts and interactions MDT, Capital Metro, the COMET Specific Interest Short story dispenser BART Disabled person mobility TANK, Capital Metro, CyRide Food delivery for nonprofit organizations The COMET Free transportation to COVID-19 vaccination site TANK, CyRide Table 11. Agencies based on focus area and specific interest. Source: BART (https://www.bart.gov). Figure 5. Interface of BART website.
28 Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation is reflected by the impressions and reach of the agencyâs social media platforms. Furthermore, response rates and time reflect the success of customer care. BART uses Twitter Analytics and Facebook Insights to measure its social media success, in addition to the frequency at which media outlets pick up BARTâs social media content. Partnerships and Policies BARTâs social media platforms are connected with real-time service alerts to streamline dis- tribution and are governed by marketing and communication plans, policies, and procedures. A social customer care program has been set up using cloud-based tools. BART does not share third-party private company information or promotions via social media platforms. The agency has written strategies, policies, and guidelines for official communication on social media that apply to employees who maintain social media communications on behalf of BART. COVID-19 Considerations BART frequently shares daily ridership numbers and train-crowding details on social media. Challenges and Barriers BART recognizes the full potential of social media. The agency has full buy-in to prioritize its social media platforms and be bold about it, according to the survey respondent. However, the BART social media sites are only partially accessible to people with disabilities. Further- more, the agency does not use a social media archiving platform. According to the policy statement from the agency, BART personnel take a screenshot and save it in a folder in the cloud for limited use cases when the agency decides to delete or hide a comment or post. Lessons Learned The following are the lessons learned: â¢ Trained social media spokesperson: One of the most important lessons learned by the agency is to treat social media managers like spokespeople. BART also suggests hiring strong writers with a public relations background. â¢ Social media tactics: Another important suggestion from the respondent was to thread Twitter content instead of posting one sentence with a link to more information. Having Source: BART Facebook post (https://www.facebook.com/bartsf/posts/10157634137561916). Figure 6. BARTâs Facebook post about its touchless short story dispenser service.
Case Examples 29Â Â different strategies for each platform was also suggested. BART employees also suggested setting up a Twitter account dedicated to service advisories so that people do not have to scroll through many service alerts that are not relevant to them to access announcements, news, and other engaging content. Moreover, one can always retweet or quote-tweet a service alert when it is important. â¢ Transparency: BART respondents emphasized keeping conversations with the public trans- parent unless it is via direct messages (DMs). BART does not prefer to use a DM unless the information contains sensitive information. Future Goals The social media goal of the agency for the next 1 to 3Â years is to keep up with new trends, such as making more service-related posts, answering relevant queries in public posts, and answering relevant direct messages. Web Links The following are BARTâs web links: â¢ Website: www.bart.gov. â¢ Twitter: https://twitter.com/SFBART. â¢ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bartsf. â¢ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/bart. â¢ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BARTable. â¢ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sfbayarearapidtransit. â¢ Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Bart. Case Example 2: Miami-Dade Transit Miami-Dade Transit (MDT), operated by Miami-Dade Countyâs Department of Trans- portation and Public Works (DTPW), is the primary public transit authority in Miami, FL. MDT is the largest transit system in Florida and the 15th-largest transit system in the United States. The agency serves a large urbanized area with a population of over 2.8Â million resi- dents. MDTâs principal modes of transportation are bus, light rail, heavy rail, and paratransit services. Social Media Platforms The senior social media specialist from DTPW reported that the department uses the fol- lowing social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter (FigureÂ 7), and Instagram. The agency shares service-related information, agency news, projects, promotions, emergency alert and crisis information, press releases and statements, feature stories, and job listings through these plat- forms. Additionally, DTPW posts other content used to engage its riders and attract new poten- tial riders. Among these, service information is shared the most frequently (a few times a week). The department focuses its social media posts on four distinct pillars: education, community, institutional, and promotional. DTPW posts can fall neatly into one of the aforementioned pillars, which help to guide the posting strategy for the department. Like many other trans- portation agencies, DTPW has two distinct Twitter accounts: one that is used to share solely service information and updates and another that is used to share promotional information, such as bus operator recruitment or press release announcements.
30 Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation The marketing team within the department handles all social media posting and responses via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. DTPW has allocated approximately $2,000 to $5,000 per fiscal year to promote various messages via its social media platforms. Posts that are often sponsored are intended to help raise awareness to transit riders or the general Miami-Dade County community, as well as promote certain announcements or job openings. The number of people reviewing the social media content before posting varies depending on the situation and the post. Generally, the senior social media specialist or the social media specialist are able to post or respond without further review from the marketing staff. However, a situation often involves a sensitive topic that requires a conversation with higher-level staff members in the marketing team, such as the communications manager or the chief of marketing and communications. Examples of this include when a local elected official is tagged in a tweet or is tweeting about something related to transit. DTPW employs two full-time team members that both often work over 40 hours a week dedicated to social media. Various other positions within the marketing team are involved in the review and creation process of social media content; however, these team members are involved in this process far less than 40 hours a week, and social media is not their primary responsibility. Agency Considerations The agency considers communication with current and prospective riders to be âvery importantâ and finds social media to be a âvery effectiveâ tool in that pursuit. FigureÂ 7 shows an example of the agency handling a passengerâs query via Twitter. Source: MDT Twitter post (https://twitter.com/IRideMDT/status/1371097134351716352). Figure 7. Miami-Dade Transit responding to customer comment via Twitter.
Case Examples 31Â Â Social Media Metrics Important social media metrics for MDT are social media engagement, awareness, the number of followers, and the success of customer care for the agency. DTPW uses Twitter Analytics, Facebook Insights, and DMs to measure its social media success. DTPW also considers time- liness in response and response rate as important metrics of success. Partnerships and Policies MDTâs social media platforms do not connect to real-time rider alert notifications. Passengers can sign up for rider alert messages to be notified of service disruptions directly to their devices. Since the system does not connect with the social media platforms, the social media team pub- lishes the alerts and service information manually on Twitter. Service alerts are posted mainly on the departmentâs service-related Twitter account. COVID-19 Considerations At the height of the pandemic, the department was posting three to four COVID-19ârelated posts per week pertaining to service adjustments, cleaning, or new procedures. The goal was to assure riders that riding public transit was safe. As local case numbers decreased and vaccination efforts in Miami-Dade County increased, the department reduced COVID-19ârelated posts to bimonthly. Challenges and Barriers One of the largest challenges for the department when it comes to social media is staffing. With only two full-time social media employees, it is difficult to ensure constant service infor- mation is posted and to find time to creatively plan and strategize posts not pertaining to a service disruption. The team often finds they spend a great deal more time responding to riders and posting service information than they do gathering content or planning for future posts. Future Goals The social media goals of the agency for the next 1 to 3Â years are to increase its following, increase and improve response time, and improve overall department perception. Web Links The following are MDTâs web links: â¢ Website: https://www.miamidade.gov/global/transportation/home.page. â¢ Twitter: https://twitter.com/IRideMDT. â¢ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GoMiamiDade/. â¢ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gomiamidade/. Case Example 3: CyRide CyRide is the city bus system for Ames, IA. It is a collaboration between the City of Ames, Iowa State University (ISU), and ISUâs student government. CyRide operates 13 fixed routes, a dial-a-ride service for persons with a disability, and a late-night service called Moonlight Express. In 2020, CyRide provided an average annual ridership of 4,577,482. The agency serves a small urbanized area with a population of 50,000â200,000. The principal mode of transporta- tion of the agency is bus.
32 Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation Social Media Platforms The transit technology coordinator reported that CyRide uses the following social media plat- forms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. The administrative staff of the agency share service-related information, agency news, projects, promotions, emergency alerts, and crisis information a few times a month. Agency Consideration The respondent believes social media platforms are important and effective in achieving agency goals, especially in imparting public health information and services during the COVID-19 pan- demic (see FigureÂ 8). CyRide measures its social media success by the number of likes, retweets, and so forth. Partnerships and Policies CyRideâs social media platforms are connected to real-time service alerts and service advi- sories. The agency does not share third-party private company information or promotions via social media platforms. The agency does not have a social media strategy policy. Source: CyRide Twitter post (https://twitter.com/CyRide/status/1392949050694160392). Figure 8. CyRide offered free rides to ensure access to the COVID-19 vaccine events.
Case Examples 33Â Â COVID-19 Considerations During the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency has posted extensive additional information about disinfection, rear-door boarding, social distancing, and mask wearing. Moreover, the agency offered free rides to passengers for ensuring access to COVID-19 vaccine events (FigureÂ 8). CyRide also continued normal posts during this time, but efforts were predominantly focused on updating passengers about new policies as they came into effect. Challenges and Barriers The only âvery importantâ barrier faced by the agency was time constraints for posting. Future Goals The social media goals of the agency for the next 1 to 3Â years are to increase the frequency of posting, develop a general social media policy for the agency, and expand the usage of social media for marketing purposes. Web Links The following are CyRideâs web links: â¢ Website: https://www.cyride.com. â¢ Twitter: https://twitter.com/cyride. â¢ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cyride. â¢ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cyride. â¢ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cyridetransit. Case Example 4: Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) has been providing transit services to Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties, OH, as well as downtown Cincinnati, OH, since 1973. The system currently provides service to the small urbanized area with a population of 50,000â200,000. TANKâs principal mode of transportation is bus. In 2020, TANK provided an average annual ridership of 2,482,528. Social Media Overview The marketing manager of TANK reported that it uses the following social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. TANK shares general service infor- mation, emergency alerts and crisis information, agency news and projects, press releases and statements, agency promotion, feature stories, and job listings through these platforms. TANK also provides local community partnerships, events, and driversâ information via these platforms. The agency engages senior management, marketing staff, administrative staff, and customer service staff to review the social media content, generally for about 5 to 7Â hours a week. The official TANK website and other social media platforms are completely accessible by people with disabilities.
34 Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation Agency Considerations TANK finds social media platforms to be important and effective in achieving the agency goals listed in the survey questionnaire. The agency also finds the social media platforms effective in reaching its target market, including regular riders, occasional riders, students, young adults, seniors, people with disabilities, low-income communities, minorities, agency employees, and external shareholders (see FigureÂ 9). Social Media Metrics Important social media metrics for the agency are engagement, awareness, and customer care. TANK measures the effectiveness of social media success via Facebook Insights. For other plat- forms, interactions, shares, and likes are considered as the social media metrics. Source: TANK Twitter post (https://twitter.com/TriStateTrails/status/1394631594065936386). Figure 9. TANK promoting one of its events via Twitter.
Case Examples 35Â Â Partnerships and Policies TANKâs social media platforms are connected to its marketing and communication plans. The agency shares third-party private company information or promotions via social media platforms. There is a social media strategy policy currently in development at the agency. COVID-19 Considerations During the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency has been posting more, trying to be more transparent, and getting information out more quickly. TANK also used this time to reassess its social media plans and made changes to focus on new marketing efforts post-COVID-19. TANK also provided free individual rides to make it easier for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Challenges and Barriers The important social media challenges for the agency are preventing misinformation during crises, tracking interactions and feedback, and dealing with harsh or impolite comments. Future Goals The social media goals of the agency for the next 1 to 3Â years are to build a larger social media audience, make TANKâs social media platforms places to receive real-time updates, and focus on pushing marketing efforts. Web Links The following are TANKâs web links: â¢ Website: https://www.tankbus.org. â¢ Twitter: https://twitter.com/tankbus. â¢ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tankbus. â¢ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/tankbus. â¢ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TANKTransit. â¢ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tankbus. Case Example 5: Central Midlands Regional TransitÂ Authority The COMET is a service of the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority. The agency provides countywide public transit services throughout both rural and urbanized areas of Richland, Lexington County, and downtown Columbia, SC. In 2020, the COMET provided an average annual ridership of 2.4Â million. The COMETâs principal modes of transportation are bus, streetcar, trolleys, vanpool, and paratransit services. Social Media Overview The director of marketing and the community affairs/public information officer reported that the agency uses the following social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. The COMET provides general service information, emergency alert and crisis information, agency news and projects, press releases and statements, agency promotion, feature stories, and job listings through these platforms. Recordings of board meetings, the COMET
36 Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation public forums, and the COMET Academy classes are uploaded to the YouTube channel. The agency engages senior management, marketing staff, interns, and other employees to manage the agencyâs social media content. Agency Considerations In the survey, the respondent from the COMET mentioned that communications with cur- rent and prospective riders, distribution of general and real-time service information, prevention of misinformation, crisis communication, improvement of customer satisfaction and agency image, citizen engagement, and promotion of agency services were the agencyâs most important goals. The respondent considered social media platforms to have been effective in achieving most of these goals. The agency effectively reaches its target market of regular riders, occasional riders, and minorities through social media. Social Media Metrics Important social media metrics for the agency are likes, comments, shares, and clicks for engagement and impressions and reach for awareness. The COMET measures its social media success with Hootsuite, Facebook Insights, and DMs. Partnerships and Policies The COMETâs social media platforms are connected to its marketing and communication plans, real-time service alerts, and service advisories. The agency has joined forces with Uber and Lyft to provide rides to and from vaccine appointments in Richland and Lexington Counties. In FebruaryÂ 2021, the authority launched the âDonât Miss Your Shotâ campaign, which is expected to run through the end of 2021 (see FigureÂ 10). Besides promoting through radio, television, billboards, and flyers, the authority is also using its social media and a dedicated Source: The COMET (http://catchthecometsc.gov/whats-new/the-comet-launches- dont-miss-your-shot-campaign-today). Figure 10. The COMET teamed up with Uber and Lyft to ensure access to vaccination sites for riders in Columbia, South Carolina.
Case Examples 37Â Â web page (www.COMETCovidHelp.org) for imparting detailed information on how to use the COMETâs services. The agency is also offering additional programs to serve the elderly and/or persons with disabilities needing transportation to vaccination sites. Challenges and Barriers The agency respondent did not consider any of the challenges or barriers listed in the survey to be important. However, the respondent highlighted that people are generally vocal on social media, especially Facebook. Additionally, the agencyâs social media platforms are only partially accessible to people with disabilities. The agency stated that it is committed to providing equal access and opportunity to individuals with disabilities in all its programs, activities, and services. The agency recognized the importance of reasonable modifications to policies and procedures that would benefit individuals with disabilities. Lessons Learned As a result of restraints in budget and staffing, it is not feasible to be constantly active on social media. Therefore, the representative of the COMET has suggested setting boundaries and expectations for followers. The agency is creating a system to let users know when they can expect a response and how often the sites are monitored. The agency respondent suggested setting a benchmark for responding within a reasonable amount of time and having other staff help in monitoring after hours and on weekends on a rotating basis. Future Goals The social media goal of the agency for the next 1 to 3 years is to increase followers annually by 10Â percent to 15Â percent. Web Links The following are the COMETâs web links: â¢ Twitter: https://twitter.com/CatchTheCOMET. â¢ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatchTheCOMET. â¢ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/central-midlands-regional-transit-authority- thecomet/. â¢ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyfHi9VvJHhrwKcZWN73S7w. â¢ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/catchthecomet. Case Example 6: Capital Metropolitan TransportationÂ Authority The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) is a public trans- portation provider located in Austin, TX. The agency is also referred to as CapMetro. The principal modes of transportation of the agency are bus, light rail, heavy rail/subway, and paratransit services. Capital Metro provides services in the large urbanized area of Austin and several suburbs in Travis and Williamson Counties, TX, to a population of over 200,000. Social Media Overview The multimedia producer of Capital Metro reported that the agency uses the following social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Capital Metro also
38 Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation runs an official website that is completely accessible to people with disabilities. The senior management and marketing staff of the agency manage the social media content regarding general service information, emergency alerts, crisis information, agency news, projects, press releases, statements, agency promotion, feature stories, and job listings. Capital Metro also provides an instructional video on how to use its services on its platforms (see FigureÂ 11). Multiple people review the social media content before posting. The employees usually dedicate 40Â hours per week to managing its social media. The budget allocated for social media engage- ment varies per project. Agency Consideration Capital Metro considers social media platforms to be important and effective in achieving the agency goals that were listed in the survey questionnaire. Social media platforms have also proved to be most effective in reaching the target market. Source: Capital Metro LinkedIn post (https://www.linkedin.com/posts/capital-metro_metrorapid-projectconnect-activity-6793533775767851008-i4rB). Figure 11. Capital Metro providing instructional video regarding its services.
Case Examples 39Â Â Social Media Metrics An important social media metric for the agency is awareness among followers. Its social media success is measured by Twitter Analytics, Hootsuite, Facebook Insights, DMs, and third- party data metrics. Partnerships and Policies Capital Metroâs social media platforms are connected to its marketing and communications plans, 511 (traveler information), 311 (citizen information), real-time service alerts, and service advisories. The agency does not share third-party private company information or promotions via social media platforms. The agency has an employee conduct policy on social media, and a social media strategy policy is currently under development. COVID-19 Considerations During the COVID-19 pandemic, the social media information sharing of the agency has shifted mainly toward âtransit is safeâ initiatives and the promotion of the cleanliness of its vehicles and facilities, community support, and so forth. Challenges and Barriers The agency handles its challenges and barriers with relative efficiency. The marketing team collaborates with the customer service team in handling difficult situations within social media comments, messages, and posts. Future Goals The social media goals of the agency for the next 1 to 3Â years are to restructure information flow among the channels. The agency also plans to hire professionals specifically for social media strategy. Revamping or cleansing the agencyâs YouTube channel is also one of its future goals. Web Links The following are Capital Metroâs web links: â¢ Website: https://capmetro.org. â¢ Twitter: https://twitter.com/CapMetroATX. â¢ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/capitalmetro. â¢ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/capmetroatx. â¢ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/capital-metro. â¢ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/iridecapmetro. â¢ Blog: https://capmetroblog.com. Case Example 7: Halifax Transit Halifax Transit is a Canadian public transportation agency. The agencyâs principal modes of transportation are bus, paratransit services, and ferries (see the web interface in FigureÂ 12). The service operates in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with a population of over 200,000. The agency
40 Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation currently runs two ferry routes, 61 conventional bus routes (including corridor, local, and express services), three regional express routes (called MetroX), and three rural routes. Halifax Transit also operates Access-A-Bus, a door-to-door paratransit service for senior and disabled citizens. In 2020, Halifax transit provided 30.4Â million average boardings annually. Social Media Overview The outreach advisor of the agency reported that Halifax Transit provides general service information, emergency alerts, crisis information, agency news, press releases and statements, meeting and event notices, and job listings through Twitter. However, most of the Halifax Transit content is also shared via municipal Facebook and Instagram accounts. The agency also shares historical facts, COVID-19 safety information, passenger policies, guideline reminders, facts about the fleet, ridership numbers, and updates on capital projects through the agencyâs major social media platforms. Halifax Transit also shares events typically related to community engagement opportunities roughly once a month. Because of the topography of the Halifax region, the agency has created Snow Plan routes, which include alternate routing for conven- tional bus routes to navigate around hills and other tricky areas. During winter storm events, the agency posts tweets, along with a link to the Snow Plan alternative routing on its website. Halifax Transit employs a full-time employee to manage its social media account. The agency also has dedicated operations staff and transit network supervisors who share service disruptions during non-office hours. Planning and scheduling staff work cooperatively with customer sup- port and engagement staff to advise on service changes. Project staff work cooperatively with customer support and engagement staff to offer advice on transit projects. All their content is guided by corporate communications processes. Halifax Transit Source: Halifax Transit (https://www.halifax.ca/transportation/halifax-transit). Figure 12. Interface of Halifax Transit website.
Case Examples 41Â Â Agency Considerations According to the respondent, only a small portion of the population under the agencyâs ser- vice areas uses Twitter, which is the agencyâs main channel of communication. The respondent also indicated that Twitter is only âslightly effectiveâ in reaching the target market of the agency. Therefore, Halifax Transit is planning to increase its social media reach by expanding to other platforms with the hope of engaging a larger audience. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a large part of the social media communication of Halifax Transit was safety measures. Social Media Metrics Important social media metrics for the agency are likes, comments, shares, clicks for engage- ment, impressions and reach for awareness, and the number of followers. Social media success is measured by Twitter Analytics, Hootsuite, and DMs. Partnerships and Policies Halifax Transitâs social media platforms are connected with its marketing and communi- cation plans, 311 (citizen information), real-time service alerts, and data (real-time GPS) to third-party applications, Google Transit, and Transit app. The agency does not share third-party private company information or promotions via social media platforms. The agency has an existing employee conduct policy on social media and a social media strategy policy. COVID-19 Considerations During the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency has directed a greater focus on sharing spe- cific COVID-19 safety measures, such as ensuring a provincial mask mandate (see FigureÂ 13), blocking off seating areas, boarding and exiting from rear doors, limiting the seating capacity, and restricting travelers arriving at the airport. At the beginning of the pandemic, the service Source: Halifax Transit YouTube video (https://youtu.be/qKADZTZDsdg). Figure 13. COVID-19 safety information regarding Halifax Transit and terminals provided through YouTube channel of Halifax Regional Municipality.
42 Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation was reduced by roughly 30Â percent and was communicated broadly via social media. Municipal social media channels also shared this information on Halifax Transitâs behalf. Challenges and Barriers Time constraints for posting, user privacy, and tracking interactions and feedback are impor- tant challenges faced by the agency. Another barrier is that the agencyâs social media sites are only partially accessible to people with disabilities. Lessons Learned The following are lessons learned: â¢ Application of technology: One of the important lessons learned by the agency is to use technology (Trapeze TransitMaster) to provide real-time service alerts via Twitter. â¢ Increase outreach: The other important suggestions from the spokesperson include com- municating more actively with customers about upcoming service changes or program information, increasing community outreach to engage and inform marginalized popula- tions (e.g., people of color, people with disabilities, and seniors), and expanding social media platforms to reach a broader audience. Future Goals The social media goals of the agency for the next 1 to 3 years are to grow its following, increase customer engagement, expand social media reach to other platforms, and increase customer service information about its programs. Web Links The following are Halifax Transitâs web links: â¢ Website: https://www.halifax.ca/transportation/halifax-transit. â¢ Twitter: https://twitter.com/hfxtransit. â¢ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCM8Iyqh9P_EjTvqeMgGKBQw. Key Findings The case examples show that Twitter and Facebook are the critical social media platforms for the agencies to share information and provide customer support. Occasionally, Twitter is pre- ferred because of its short text or alert format. Service alerts are the key type of information that is shared frequently by the agencies. FigureÂ 14 shows topics and keywords in word cloud format, which is generated from all tweets of the seven case examples. The size of the text in FigureÂ 14 indicates the quantity of the keyword presence. Text colors are used for making a distinction between the words. It was found that COVID-19 significantly impacted the nature of informa- tion distribution. Being more innovative out of necessity, agencies started using social media more frequently and efficiently not only to impart service-related information but also to raise public awareness about various health and safety issues during COVID-19. Some agencies pro- mote specific interests such as short story dispensers, free COVID-19 vaccine rides, and disabled rider assistance. Agencies such as BART suggested that the top-tier staff should be engaged in social media posting to maintain the quality and consistency of content sharing. Data archiving seems difficult even for the agencies selected for case examples.
Case Examples 43Â Â Figure 14. Key topics from 118,297 official tweets by the case example agencies.