Social Media and Disgruntled Drivers: UDOT Hosting Online Dialogue About Transportation
By Becky Wickstrom, SMC of SLC member
Construction information and Facebook – not exactly the likely pair. But the Utah Department of Transportation is successfully using social media to keep drivers updated on the I-15 CORE project, which will reconstruct 24 miles of I-15 from Lehi to Spanish Fork over the next two-and-a-half years.
UDOT’s communication strategy is a far cry from the first I- 15 reconstruction in Salt Lake County, just prior to the 2002 Olympics. During that project, the communications team relied on monthly meetings with committees and in-person discussions with local groups to provide project information. Meetings are still in the mix on I-15 CORE, but now citizens can get immediate answers to questions and provide instant feedback online.
I-15 CORE, which is the largest transportation project in state history, is engaging drivers online through Facebook, Twitter and even SMS updates. Each medium has a specific and independent strategy to meet the needs and interests of the various audiences. Twitter, for example, provides real-time updates on road work, while Facebook is used for general construction information, sharing news stories and posting pictures and maps. Both mediums allow users to ask questions, provide comments and interact with both UDOT and other drivers.
The I-15 CORE communications team is using the experts to reach students from UVU and BYU online. BYU’s BradleyPR, a student PR agency, is developing a creative social media communication plan to inform students who will be impacted by construction but may be difficult to reach through traditional mediums of TV, print and radio.
Response to I-15 CORE social media outreach has been positive across the board, with one Facebook user even commenting “Thank you UDOT – WE LOVE YOU!” after a change in the construction plan. The project communications team hopes that by keeping drivers informed and updated with the latest information, drivers will be less frustrated throughout the construction.
Becky Wickstrom with Intrepid Agency is UDOT I-15 CORE’s social media manager. The I-15 CORE project restores and expands 24 miles of I-15 from Lehi to Spanish Fork. Follow on Twitter, Facebook or sign up for weekly text updates by texting “i15” to 83043.