The growth of the Internet on a global scale has been significant. The number of active users of the Internet has reached almost half of world’s population in January 2016, an increase of 10% from January 2015 (We are social, 2016). A similar trend is also happening in the social media. There is a 10% increase in the number of active social media users in the world from January 2015 to January 2016, which make the total number of 2.307 billion users (We are social, 2016). The number shows that social media is a big platform where people can get and share information as well as interact with other users.
Road Safety as Global Issue
The high number of road fatalities in the world has made road safety become a global issue. The United Nations Road Safety Collaborations (UNRSC) launched a global plan for Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020 on 11 May 2011 as a way to address the issue, which involved various stakeholders in multiple levels (World Health Organization (WHO), n.d., pp.2-7). The issue is divided into five categories: Road safety management, safer roads and mobility, safer vehicles, safer road users, and post-crash response (WHO, n.d., p.11).The involvement of a wide range of stakeholders from government to non-governmental organization shows the seriousness of the issue that has to be addressed.
Our new #RoadSafety report shows that despite progress, #road #traffic deaths remain too high→ 1.25 million #people die each year as a result of #roadtraffic crashes. This is an unacceptable toll. Yes, Road Safety strategies are saving lives, but the pace of change is too slow. Globally, road traffic injuries are the main cause of death among #young people (15-29 years old). 49% of road traffic deaths are among #pedestrians, #cyclists and #motorcyclists #🚲 #🚶🏾#🚴🏽
Social Media: Variety, Active User, and Participative
Social media has the potentials that could support the realization of road safety campaign’s objective. Firstly, the number of social media platform. Nowadays, there are various social media platforms all over the world from Facebook to LinkedIn. Each platform has their own characteristic and type of audience. For example, Instagram is a platform that enables people to share picture and video to a wide audience. Thus, in using social media, campaign manager could mix and match platforms that best suit the objective and the target audience of the road safety campaign.
Secondly, social media platforms have millions of users that are actively using the platforms as a media to interact with one another. Figure 1 shown Facebook as the number one social platform with 1.590 million users. The opportunity to reach millions of social media active users with minimum cost is something that cannot be missed especially in road safety campaign, which needs to reach broad stakeholders.
Finally, the characteristic of social media as a participative media. Shirky (as cited in Fuchs, 2014, p.35) defines social media as an instrument that “increase our ability to share, to co-operate, with one another, and to take collective action…”. Similarly, Hinton and Hjorth (2013, pp.55-61) also states that social media is participative in nature as it enables users to participate in forms of sharing other people’s content (User Generated Content) or creating their content (User Created Content). In giving the users the ability to share and produce contents, social media encourage people to participate in the online platform.
Rheingold (2008, p.100) further outlines three characteristics of participatory media. Firstly, media that allows people to send and receive various kinds of information from and to others over a network. Secondly, media whose strength comes from users’ active participation. Thirdly, “social networks, when amplified by information and communication network, enabling wider, faster, and lower cost coordination of activities” (Castells as cited in Rheingold, 2008, p.100).
It means that every content that people share on the social media would reach their community circle and so on that make the content keep on spreading throughout the community network. Hence, as more people join in the community network to support the cause, the information could reach even wider public far beyond the first circle of users (Jenkins, Ford, & Green, 2013, p.17). It is well suited to the social campaign, as it would need as many people as possible to become aware of the social issue as well as for people to further participate in the distribution of messages convey in the campaign.
Examples of Road Safety Campaign in Social Media
The road safety campaign has used social media as one of its media. The UNSRC has several social media accounts dedicated to Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 such as Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr (WHO, 2016).
The UNSRC uses Twitter and Facebook to share road safety contents to its thousands of followers. Its followers then participate in sharing the content with their followers by liking the post, share the post, and retweet the post. Furthermore, the UNSRC used Flickers to invite its followers to create their content and the post it in the Flickr account. It gave the opportunity for users to become the producer and tell their story. Thus, the power of the social media helps the discourse of road safety messages through a wide range of public by both encouraging the UGC and UCC traits in users.
The participative nature of social media has made it possible for other parties not included in the UNSRC list of partners to contribute to road safety campaign by sharing and creating information in their social media account. For example, Road Safety Watch @veillepr. It is a Paris-based Twitter account that is dedicated to tweeting and re-tweet information about road safety from various countries and in multiple languages (https://twitter.com/veillepr?lang=en).
The interesting facts are that the number of followers of Road Safety Watch is exceeded the UNRSC, by 3,186 followers per 21 April 2016, even though Road Safety Watch account is made a year later (https://twitter.com/veillepr?lang=en; https://twitter.com/UNRSC). It shows that people could contribute to the campaign held by the UNRSC by spreading road safety messages. As it create and share the content, its followers are exposed to the content and might further share it with their followers. Hence, the participative culture of social media is helping the road safety content to spread throughout the even wider Twitter community that have the same interest.
Social Media Project: Indonesia Motorcycle Road Safety Campaign
Inspired by the power of social media and road safety campaign conducted by both individual and organization, the Indonesia Motorcycle Road Safety (IMRS) campaign made to contribute in addressing road safety issue in Indonesia. In regards to the objective and number of audience, the platforms used in the campaign were Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In applying the concept of social media as participative media, the campaign focused on content that would be of interest to the target audience so that the user interested in sharing as well as creating content, which further encourage through competition. The credibility of the sources also considered as it would factor in the users’ decision to share the information. For example, road safety statistics from World Health Organization and Traffic Corps Indonesian National Police.
The competition relates to Indonesia road safety issue to better exposed the users and generate engagement. As Lam, an expert on social media (personal communication, March 9, 2016) explains that statistics that easy to relate could be used to gain people interest to the campaign. To ensure that the users will be interested in the content and shared it with their community, the campaign content also diversified among texts, pictures, info graphics, memes, and videos.
The result of the social media campaign is quite promising. Both Facebook Insight and Twitter Analytics shown that even though both campaign accounts only have a small number of like or followers, they have a significant number of reach and impression. Likewise, the Iconosquare also show that the number of like are considerably larger than the number of followers. The engagement in the Twitter quiz is another example of UGC and UCC at works. It revealed the willingness of the users to read road safety regulation to answer the quiz and post the answer while at the same time also share the information about quiz to their followers.
In brief, the participative nature of the social media helps to bridge the gap between the number of like and reach. The content that is attractive to the users spread out beyond the original account as each user interact with other that have the same interest, and share the content with their community. Thus, it enabled IMRS Campaign to contribute to the discourse of road safety messages with the potential of reaching and engaging more people as long as it is managed consistently.
List of Reference
Fuchs, C. (2014). Social media: A critical introduction. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Hinton, S., & Hjorth, L. (2013). Understanding social media. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Jenkins, H., Ford, S., Green, J. (2013). Spreadable media. New York and London: New York University Press
Rheingold, H. (2008). Using participatory media and public voice to encourage civic engagement. In W. L. Bennet (Ed.), Civic life online: Learning how digital media can engage youth (97-118). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. 97–118.
We are social. (2016). Digital in 2016. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://www.slideshare.net/wearesocialsg/digital-in-2016/224
World Health Organization. (n.d.). Global plan for the decade of action for road safety 2011-2020. Retrieved from the World Health Organization Website: http://www.who.int/roadsafety/decade_of_action/plan/plan_english.pdf?ua=1
World Health Organization. (2016). United Nations Road Safety Collaboration. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://www.who.int/roadsafety/en/