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Synthesis of State DOT Social Media Practices to Support Research, Innovation, and Implementation Across the Research Lifecycle


There is documentation among the transportation sector surrounding social media as a public relations tool for public involvement, public information, real-time service information, planning, employee recognition, and even entertainment. Research has come out with various crowdsourcing and analytic processes, for example mining Twitter data (big data) to conduct natural language processing, topic modeling and network analysis.

Social media has become a researcher’s tool (vessel of information) for data gathering and market research, and a professional opportunity for networking and technology transfer. As stewards of technology transfer and research implementation it would be fit to explore interpersonal and knowledge sharing interactions on social media, such as the “#TRBAM Social Media Interactions from Transportations Largest Conference” article in the December 2019 Issue or TR News.

Technology transfer processes, which possibly incorporate strategic social media communications plans, are applied by state DOT research programs to share innovations from applied research projects and communicate their beneficial outcomes on organizational and social environments, as well as on community quality of life.

However, social media is being underutilized at transportation agencies, therefore restricting opportunities for innovation. Due to the ever-growing body of evidence and ever-evolving nature of social media, state DOTs would benefit from a community of practice, which adds to the e-literacy for transportation agencies and professionals.

There is a research need to gather examples of how state DOTs and their adjacent research communities are applying strategic social media communications practices at every phase of the research lifecycle. This information would build DOTs and transportation professionals confidence in leveraging social media, an innovative and effective tool for research and technology transfer.


The objective of this synthesis is to document both formal and informal social media practices that State DOTs and research partners apply across the research lifecycle along with types of data collected and their uses surrounding these practices.

Social media is commonly used during the implementation phase of the research lifecycle where social media can help to communicate the value of research findings, promote key messages, and reach a public audience. In the research and problem statement development, social media can be used within the State DOTs and across possible end user markets to determine needs and preferences of end users of the research.

This research will help establish a community of practice within research programs at State DOTs on social media to improve understanding of the various opportunities social media offers across the research lifecycle.


Information to be gathered includes (but is not limited to):

· Document the current state of social media practices in support of transportation research programs.

· Document the rapidly expanding series of social media methods and strategies that support each phase of the research lifecycle.

· Create a framework for cataloging and advancing use of social media.

· Document social media data analytics and successful case study applications.

· Document procedural guidance examples of how state DOTs and adjacent research communities (e.g., private sector) implement social media at various stages of the research lifecycle.

· Identify successes and challenges to individual and organizational level social media communications, including risk and cost benefit analysis.

· Identify evidence-based practices from adjacent research communities (e.g., health sector) to fill gaps in social media applications across various research lifecycle phases.

Information will be collected with mixed methods research, including: a literature review, a survey of state DOTs, a survey of other transportation research agencies and private firms, and follow-up interviews with selected agencies/companies for the development of case examples. Information gaps of how state DOTs are using social media within the research lifecycle will be identified, and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.

Sponsoring Committee:AJE35, Research and Innovation Management
RNS Developer:Gabriella Kolodzy, Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Source Info:Forinash, C. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2019. Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects: Report and Toolkit. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25506.
Leonardi, P. and Samantha Meyer. Social Media as Social Lubricant: How Ambient Awareness Eases Knowledge Transfer. American Behavioral Scientist 2015, Vol. 59(1) 10 –34 2015. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764214540509
Bergman, S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/14666..
Subasish Das. #TRBAM Social Media Interactions from Transportation’s Largest Conference. TR News, December 2019 Issue. http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/180055.aspx
Bretschneider, S. and Marla Parker. Organization formalization, sector and social media: Does increased standardization of policy broaden and deepen social media use in organizations? Government Information Quarterly. 2016, Vol. 33(3) 614-628. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.giq.2016.09.005
Ukkusuri, S., and Tho Le. Modeling the Willingness to Work as Crowd-Shippers and Travel Time Tolerance in Emerging Logistics Services. Travel Behavior and Society 2019, Vol. 15(0) 123-132. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/2214367X
Ermagun, A., and Aymeric Punel. Using Twitter Network to Detect Market Segments in the Airline Industry. Journal of Air Transport Management 2016, Vol. 73(0) 67-76. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/09696997
Watkins, K.E., and Susan Bregman.(2013). Best Practices for Transportation Agency Use of Social Media. Taylor & Francis Group White Paper. https://www.crcpress.com/Best-Practices-for-Transportation-Agency-Use-of-Social-Media/Bregman-Watkins/p/book/9781466568600
K. Rohan, A. Karner, C. Ross, and Amit Kumar. (2017). Crowdsourced Social Media Monitoring System Development. Georgia Institute of Technology, Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development. http://g92018.eos-intl.net/eLibSQL14_G92018_Documents/16-14.pdf
Sharma, A., and Pranamesh Chakraborty. (2019). Public Opinion Analysis of the Transportation Policy Using Social Media Data: A Case Study on the Delhi Odd–Even Policy. Transportation in Developing Economies, Vol. 5(1) 5. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40890-019-0074-8
Date Posted:04/30/2021
Date Modified:03/08/2022
Index Terms:Research management, Social media, Public relations, Information dissemination,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Administration and Management
Data and Information Technology
Transportation (General)

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