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New community, further adventures with YouTube, more

The most interesting development in KDOT’s ongoing exploration of social media is our plan to launch an internal online community later this spring. Unlike K-TOC, which is open to all and is used by the agency as a public-outreach tool, the new community will be strictly limited to KDOT employees and is intended for internal collaboration. The roll-out is considerably different from our experiences with K-TOC, but we’re working again with Leverage Software, who already hosts K-TOC and is staffed by wizards, so we anticipate few difficulties. This is an exciting development for the agency, and for me personally; I’m dying to see how the dynamics of an internal community differ from those of a public community. We’re only just beginning this project, but I expect to have additional information in coming weeks.

We’ve long been aware that we’re under-utilizing our YouTube channel–as in, “not using it at all”–but this year we’ve resolved to do better, and we’re off to a good start. We released our first successful video press release last month, announcing that READER’S DIGEST ranked Kansas roads and highways #1 in America. We promoted that video on K-TOC, Twitter and with an email targeting about 1,800 transportation stakeholders around the state. More than 900 people visited our YouTube channel, and almost 500 viewed the video. We call that a win.

The Kansas Legislature is on recess this week. When they return later this month, one of the bills they’ll be considering is a new long-range state transportation plan. The proposed new program is called T-WORKS, and one of the problems we hope it addresses is our “preservation gap”–the estimated shortfall in revenue available for highway and bridge preservation and rehabilitation. The gap is a product of $257 million in budget cuts KDOT has seen already this year. Jerry Younger, the State Transportation Engineer (who’s been a big support in our social media efforts) suggested that we put together a video depicting images of some of the distressed roadways in the state that won’t be rehabilitated as a consequence of funding cuts. We did so, and that release was posted to YouTube about three hours ago. So far today we’ve logged more than 500 YouTube visits and more than 220 views of the video.

In the three hours since we posted the video, I’ve been invited to appear on a local radio morning show, and been contacted by the Associated Press about a story on the subject of our social media program. I think we’re making progress.

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Darrel W. Cole

Well done Patrick! Good video. Informative, honest. And, good all around effort with your social media efforts. From my reviews, KDOT is one of the top 5 state DOTs in the nation in this regard. I wish more DOTs were sounding the same financial message through their forums. I think there is a contention in the public that with all the ARRA funds, transportation is doing great. Far from the case, as your video suggests. While ARRA funds are helping capital project funding, there’s still capital project reductions, and DOT operating budgets are getting squeezed, which means doing with less staff, facing pay cuts or furloughs. It also has meant that more than 80 percent of transit agencies have or will reduce service or raised rates, according to a recent survey. So, keep on touting the message. Hopefully, some are paying attention to the fact that ignoring the problems will only make it worse. Social media is a powerful tool to engage others.

Patrick Quinn

Thanks, Darrel.

Our agency senior leadership is committed to making social media an integral part of our daily operation. The new community is a big step in that direction. But my personal interest is in applying new tech to public outreach, so I’m excited by the positive traction the YouTube channel is generating. And we’re just getting started–when I think about where we were 12 months ago, it’s easy to get excited about where we might be 12 months from now.