Do you Yammer? Facebook? Tweet? Instagram?

Social media smart phone w iconsSocial media is everywhere. Recent Pew Research shows in 2015, 90 percent of Americans ages 18-29 used social media. At the same time, there has been a 69-point jump in social media use by those ages 30-49, from 8 percent in 2005 to 77 percent today.

Yammer, our internal social media platform

Going with the trend, our Iowa DOT social media presence has grown significantly in the last few years. Our own internal social media platform, Yammer, is up to approximately 1,300 DOT users and nearly 100 groups have been created to share ideas and information and collaborate on projects. Groups range in size from a few employees to several hundred, depending on the purpose of the group.

YammerThe Iowa DOT’s Yammer is a closed network, which means people outside the agency can’t see what is posted to our Yammer site. To access the Iowa DOT’s Yammer, you must use an Iowa DOT email address. Once you are inside the Iowa DOT’s Yammer network, individual groups can be set up as “public” or “private.” A public group simply means any Iowa DOT employee can join. Setting up a private group means the group’s administrator must approve a request to join the group. Either way, only people with Iowa DOT email address are allowed on the DOT’s Yammer network.

Andrea Henry, director of the Office of Strategic Communications, said, “Yammer is really growing in popularity and usage. There are new posts every day from a variety of people across a number of groups”.

Yammer is easy to use. Anyone with something to say can simply click on the “Update” button at the top of the screen, type a message and click “Post.” Posting in groups allows like-minded people to have discussions around topics that interest them. You can choose to join as many or as few groups as you like. If you have something you would like all Iowa DOT Yammer users to see, simply post it in the “All Company” group.  Henry added, “From collaboration to team building to knowledge share, you have the ability to get out of Yammer what is most beneficial to you. You even have the flexibility to control how often and what information you see by customizing your notifications and preferences in your profile.”

She continued, “Our office has found Yammer especially useful during emergencies like snowstorms. We can collaborate directly with the field without having to wade through a sea of emails. Unlike email, where it is easy to inadvertently leave someone out of the conversation, Yammer also assures that everyone in the group sees the messages.  Other offices use it daily to coordinate projects or just share what’s going on in their area.”

If you’re still not using Yammer, or have an account but you’re not sure how to use the platform, here’s a video that might help you understand more about it. http://portal/PT/SI/SitePages/Webinars.aspx

External social media has value in the workplace, too

Since we first published a blog post about the Iowa DOT’s social media in 2014, our Facebook “likes” have increased from 1,600 to nearly 15,000 and Twitter followers are up from 18,000 to nearly 29,000. Our newest platform, Instagram, has nearly 800 followers and is still under development. A typical day can have as many as a dozen DOT posts to Facebook and 20 to 30 posts to Twitter.

Many of the people who see and comment on our posts are employees, and that’s great. We all need to know what information is being circulated from the agency. Henry said, “There is still a misperception by some employees that it is forbidden to check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yammer or the DOT’s blog Transportation Matters for Iowa on state time. That’s simply not the case. We encourage the use of social media as long as you’re using it to increase your knowledge of all things DOT.”

Iowa DOT is increasingly using social media as a key communication tool, both with customers outside the agency and to get information to employees within our own walls. A change to policy 030.09 more than two years ago opened up social media access for all employees when there is a business need. In this case, the business need is sharing of information. The policy clearly says the Internet is provided for business use for employees to accomplish their assigned job duties and responsibilities. Supervisors do have the discretion to restrict Internet access if there is not a business need.

“Social media is immediate access to information,” said Henry. “This is especially important during emergency situations. Allowing our employees to have the same access as the public to the information keeps everybody on the same page.”

Networking and sharing information are two key uses of social media. Following Twitter or Facebook pages of other agencies or groups related to transportation allows the opportunity to share best practices and develop relationships with those with an interest in transportation. For those who have not dived deeply into the pool of external social media channels, here is a list of what the Iowa DOT currently uses and the purpose of each.


Facebook-logoThe Iowa DOT has used Facebook since April 2012. This social media channel allows us to share text, photos, infographics, and videos of interest to our customers. Job postings, safety information, and traffic are popular posts to the main Facebook page. Targeted road condition information resides on the Iowa 511 system’s statewide feed and on separate pages for each region.

The department has also developed project-related Facebook pages as a way to get targeted information to customers. Offices such as aviation and transit are using Facebook pages to interact with modal enthusiasts.


Twitter-logoThe Iowa DOT has tweeted more than 14,000 messages on our main Twitter account since 2008.  The platform limits tweets to 140 characters, allowing staff in the Office of Strategic Communications to post short bursts of information several times per day. Much of the information posted to Twitter coordinates with information posted to Facebook, including photos, and infographics.

The Iowa DOT has set up separate 511 Twitter feeds for each region of Iowa, six metro areas, and a statewide feed. Like Facebook, these Twitter feeds are automatically populated by the 511 system but manual posts are made to supplement the information fed automatically.



You-Tube-logoVideos created by the Iowa DOT are housed on one of two YouTube channels. The Iowa DOT channel is for general videos and the Iowa DOT Answers channel houses videos meant to help the public understand different Iowa DOT methodologies. The Iowa DOT’s YouTube videos are linked both to social media posts and to the agency’s website. Utilizing YouTube allows the Iowa DOT to cost-effectively caption videos, making them accessible for people with disabilities.



Pinterest_faviconThis platform allows the agency to create boards to tell transportation stories in a more visual way. Topics include safety, history, transportation-inspired crafts, wacky facts, and images.





Instagram-new-logoThis platform was built to be used on mobile devices. The Iowa DOT is currently experimenting with ways to integrate posts to Instagram to help tell our story in a visual way through photos and videos and contribute to our overall information sharing strategy.




You can follow the Iowa DOT on any of these social media platforms by searching for Iowa Department of Transportation or by clicking their icon at the bottom of the Iowa DOT’s home page. Android and iPhone users can download the “myIowaDOT” app from their app store. myIowaDOT includes quick links to the department’s main Facebook and Twitter pages.

Any office or group at the Iowa DOT interested in developing a social media presence, should contact the Office of Strategic Communications for more information.

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