Our open-to-the-public online community, K-TOC, now has almost 700 members, most of them transportation professionals. Seven hundred members is considerably more than we anticipated when we launched in January, but in the past month enrollment rate has dropped substantially. I think we’re approaching the natural membership limit for a community devoted to transportation in Kansas.
The community is almost self-sustaining–almost. In late April I was pulled away from K-TOC for about a month to play utility infielder during a high-demand period in our Public Affairs office. I spent a lot of time on the road (a motel bathroom attempted to electrocute me, it was that kind of trip) and was able to access K-TOC only irregularly and for short periods. Over about six weeks, our traffic fell to half of its immediate post-launch levels, from about 120 visitors a day to about 60 visitors a day. Now, after a couple of weeks of regular care and grooming, we’re back up to about 80 visitors a day.
A big part of the restored traffic–about half, according to Google Analytics–comes from Twitter. By tweeting new blogs and other community posts, we’re driving new traffic to the community. Twitter is a new animal for us, and we’re still refining our strategy, but so far I’m impressed with what we’ve seen. Last week I live-tweeted Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to a KDOT stimulus project in Overland Park. There were some tech issues, but it went better than I expected.
We’re still not satisfied with the level of peer-to-peer communication on K-TOC, but I can’t say I’ve seen a whole lot more of it in other broad-based communities. Some members embraced the community immediately and have used it regularly, others signed up and quickly disappeared; this seems to be true of most online communities. I think we’d see some increased back-and-forth if we could integrate K-TOC with users’ Facebook pages, but at the moment we don’t possess that functionality–or for that matter, an agency Facebook page. An additional obstacle is KDOT’s firewall, which does not permit agency computers to visit Facebook or MySpace. We recently finagled an extra box in Public Affairs that lives outside the firewall, so we hope to address the Facebook question soon.
I plan to blog with a little more regularity in coming weeks. Take a break: This is “Quiet Little Voices,” by We Were Promised Jet Packs.