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ODOT Learns Twitter The Hard Way

This is the response received from Saxsum|PR Friday, Oct. 30th, 3:42 PM. My original blog post follows. — Mandy
 
Social media is a very effective communications tool if used strategically and appropriately.  Per our proposal and contract with ODOT (which are both public documents available from the State upon request), we are assisting ODOT develop and implement a strategy to enhance their communications efforts through a Twitter pilot project.  From developing the overall strategy, specific guidelines and performance metrics, to designing and establishing the account and training staff, we are helping ODOT provide the public with the most up-to-date information on state highways and bridges.  We began our work on Oct. 6 and are continuing to provide counsel, evaluate this new means of communications and recommend next steps. 
 
At Saxum, we take pride in providing value-added services to our clients and believe we have and continue to add value for ODOT through this project. 

——— original post ———-
FACTS:

ODOT paid $7,500 for SaxsumPR to set up their account and “spend about 10 days” with their employees teaching them how to use the service.
After 2 weeks, they had 552 followers
ODOT tweets traffic delays, congestion and other traffic issues.
Saxsum “will be helping ODOT track their effectiveness and track their Twitter following”
Saxsum says the account is going to save ODOT money through manpower savings: Not staffing phones like they would otherwise, not sending people to congested areas as they would be doing otherwise.

See KFOR’s news story here:

Twitter commentary was quite negative over the expenditure, as evidenced by tweets with the #okdot hashtag. When @saxsumPR got involved, hours after the controversy started, they promised to e-mail me their comments after conferring with their client. So far, nothing… and then they responded to a Twitter/Social Media crisis with a TV interview. Ouch… and I’m still waiting on that e-mail. Granted, it’s only Tuesday, but there’s been some time for a public response, as evidenced by the interview on KFOR.

One of my biggest challenges with this is that the main argument of Saxsum of value provided is dollars being saved because ODOT’s staffing requirement is now reduced through sharing information via Twitter.

How large is Oklahoma’s driving public?

There are 2,819,781 people 16 and over in Oklahoma… and ODOT is responsible for providing all of them with transportation related information. Unless ODOT is the most retweeted Twitter account EVER (and they’re not), 552 followers does not mean ODOT can reduce staff and still keep the same level of service to the other 2,819,229 people they serve.
I believe Twitter is a valuable information-sharing tool. I believe ODOT is right to attempt to share information this way. I believe planning for success and sometimes paying for help achieving it is necessary for any business to achieve its goals. And I don’t believe that, based on what I know at this point, the taxpayers were best served by this level of expenditure.

If additional information becomes available, I may revise my opinion…. in the meantime… please share yours!

Driving public statistic from Claritas, vintage March 2009, estimated population 16+ for state of Oklahoma.
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