Comparing Social Media Tools

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.