It’s Monday morning and you are waiting for the 6:55 a.m. #922 express bus to take you to work arriving at 7:30 a.m. You are going a little early to prepare for a meeting at 9:00. Time passes and you notice it is now 7:10 – where’s the bus? 7:20 and no bus!

Now, imagine receiving an alert that the bus has broken down and a replacement bus will arrive at 7:30 a.m. What would you do then? Most likely you could get back in your car and drive or call for a cab.

For the Transportation industry, it is important to connect with your stakeholders as soon as possible. When a bus brakes down or a subway line stops. riders and those waiting need to know these changes as soon as they happen. The benefits of social media include a direct communication that is in real-time, interaction and it is less expensive that traditional advertising.

Two social media tools that can bridge that communication gap are Twitter and Facebook. These two are the easiest to create and manage if you are a novice at social media. Then, you can integrate other social media platforms as needed.

Twitter is a 140-character at a time message service. Users can sign up a receive “tweets” in real-time. This micro-blogging service is perfect when you want to reach all of your registered users at once and immediately. In addition, users can retweet or forward you tweets to their friends to let them know about any important issues.Twitter will also allow users to update their profile via their mobile phone either by text messaging or by apps released for certain smartphones and tablets. So, that public relations executive can tweet from their phone as soon as something happens and the riders need to know. Some great examples include Bay Area Transit and Southeastern PA Transit.

Facebook is a great social media tool to personalize your company. This tool allows users to friend or follow your company page. This allows the company to create connection with users and poll its friends with almost instant feedback.   When public outreach is needed, basic project information, news updates,events and links to the company website can be posted. Another great example is posting and checking in a public information meeting with photos and videos. Some great examples include Orange County Transportation Authority and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

The key to using social media is to connect with your stakeholders and engage in a conversation. It is not how many followers or friends you have that will make you site a success, it will be the number of conversations you can create and maintain.  When posting or tweeting, ask questions to engage the follower and listen to the comments. Also, be timely in your responses and always respond to all positive as well as negative responses. By listening and letting them know you are listening, you may be able to change a negative into a positive experience by the end of the conversation.



11 thoughts on “Comparing Social Media Tools

  1. Hello,
    Nice post. I like the way you gave an example on how both Facebook and Twitter can be used in a real life scenario.

    Do you have any sense of the demographics of those that use either of these tools?

    Knowing this type of information might be beneficial for a company to decide which would be the best fit for them to use in notifying their consumers on various messages.

    Again, nice post.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Here are some of our surprising findings:
      • Facebook still skews young, but the 45- to 54-year-old age bracket has seen 45% growth since year-end 2012. Among U.S. Internet users, 73% with incomes above $75,000 are on Facebook (compared to 17% who are on Twitter). Eight-six percent of Facebook’s users are outside the U.S.
      • Twitter has a surprisingly young user population for a large social network — 27% of 18 to 29-year-olds in the U.S. use Twitter, compared to only 16% of people in their thirties and forties.

      Other Social Media:
      • Instagram: Sixty-eight percent of Instagram’s users are women.
      • LinkedIn is international and skews toward male users.
      • Google+ is the most male-oriented of the major social networks. It’s 70% male.
      • Pinterest is dominated by tablet users. And, according to Nielsen data, 84% of U.S. Pinterest users are women.
      • Tumblr is strong with teens and young adults interested in self-expression, but only 8% of U.S. Internet users with incomes above $75,000 use Tumblr.

      Retrieved from:

  2. Thanks for your post. Having been a train and subway rider for a year for work, I appreciate the real life scenario of what social media can do for the public. Where so many people are using twitter and even more are using Facebook, it is easy to get that information out. By someone “liking” the Twitter page and Facebook page, they are guaranteed to get the message. If I was able to jump on the “Haverhill Line” Facebook page and know the train was running late, I would easily be able to plan accordingly. Otherwise, I would have to wait until I was at the train station to know if it was going to be late. Also, the transportation systems would only have to post in reality once because the sites now share updates back and forth.
    I found your statistics in the comments interesting. For me, the one about Pinterest Users is intriguing but makes sense. It is used for a quick look at ideas, very often while waiting for an appointment or to show something quickly.
    Thanks for your post, enjoyed it!

    1. Thanks for your post! There are many new social media applications that are being used by mass transit companies that are making it easier to notify riders of the timeline of the buses and trains. Be sure to check out my next post that discusses this very issue.

  3. Emily,

    Great example on how SM tools are being used effectively in the transportation industry. I believe in big cities where people are depending on reliable transportation this is vital. The Metro North in New York does a pretty good job at updating its passengers via Twitter and Facebook. Also, in times of disasters, SM provides real-time information for rescue and recovery efforts.

  4. Thanks for commenting on my post! I think it is very important for mass transit companies to be able to communicate to their riders in many different ways when disasters or unplanned circumstances arise. Social media is a great tool and will help them with that today and in the future.

  5. I love that you mentioned Twitter for the transportation industry. It definitely seems like a great fit. I work in Washington DC, and WMATA uses both Facebook and Twitter. While Facebook is very popular with older users, one issue with providing up-to-date information is how the Facebook NewsFeed ranks content (using the EdgeRank algorithm). For example, an older post that has generated significant engagement is more likely to be displayed in more users’ feeds than a more recent post that garnered little to no engagement. In the case of a train breakdown or other essential update, you really have to rely on your user base to engage with the content in order to ensure that enough of your audience is seeing the message. Lately Facebook has also been under heat for how few fans actual see the updates that business pages are pushing out, and there has been some speculation that they were hoping more pages would take advantage of the promoted posts option (in order to generate a revenue stream for Facebook). For public transport updates, I believe it’s clear that Twitter is much stronger because you know that as long as your followers check in, they WILL see that update. Unfortunately, based on the demographics of who is riding the train, that may play a role in determining which platform more users are receiving their updates. Personally, I would be interested in an SMS option if it was available.

    1. You are correct that the demographics does play a role in determining which platform is best to use concerning updates. There are transit companies that also have their own alert systems. The rider can signup on the company’s website and select their preferences in the delivery of the alerts such as email or test. WMTA has a MetroAlert that you can sign up for on their website

  6. Great blog. I find it great that companies use social media to make connections with it;s customers. Social media is a great way to draw people in.

  7. Great examples! Not knowing about public transportation “hick ups” is challenging. Not sure how many people brought up the negative effect of SM? One notion is that it takes away the productivity from individuals work. On the other hand, those who embrace it can consume insight and behavior to a customer base. What better way to fine tune products and services?
    Speaking of tools, to truly maximize social technology enterprise one will have to embrace it the daily workflow and not added to an individuals’ work pile. Possible corporate reorganization might have to take place or incorporated to one the departments, say customer service or sales. Most activities can be measured with analytics of some sort. For example comScore’s Digital Analytix will assist in publishing data for optimal content creation and advertising business plans. Major players like Fox sports, Cox communications, Time Warner, and NBC are using them.

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