Effective Social Media Engagement Options for Minnesota's Diversifying Population

Principal Investigator(s):

Ingrid Schneider, Professor, Forest Resources


  • Kathryn Quick, Associate Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB) supported the University of Minnesota to investigate social media options for effective public engagement. A three-part approach assessed: 1) the state of social media use through a literature review, 2) the status of social media use and interest in its use for transportation in Minnesota compared to national data, and 3) actual and perceived effectiveness of social media in two pairs of case studies in Minnesota. In sum, results reveal that social media is effective as a select, strategic part of engagement plans and can likely effectively engage select groups. Survey results revealed that 11-21 percent of respondents participated in planning for transportation programs, policies, or projects in the last 12 months, 72 percent use social media of some sort, and 36 percent expressed interest in using social media to get information, provide feedback, or make suggestions related to transportation. Finally, social media analytics and interviews related to four case studies revealed that social media does indeed lead transportation projects to make more connections with stakeholders. However, the quality and effectiveness of those connections vary. Four main opportunities include: 1) integrating social media into multi-pronged, dynamic engagement approaches, 2) considering the demographic qualities of the key stakeholders to determine how social media can be most useful, 3) employing best practices for social media engagement, and 4) expanding and/or developing research and evaluation plans to understand and assess future social media engagement efforts.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2017011
  • Start date: 06/2016
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Planning and Economy
  • Topics: Economics, Planning