Oklahoma City News, Entertainment & Occasional Humor • Established 2007

The $7,500 Fail Whale…

This past week, the Oklahoma Twitterverse became slightly unraveled when it was revealed that ODOT’s new Twitter account was constructed by Saxum PR for $7,500.  From NewsOK.com:

State Transportation Department officials are touting their latest way to get information out about traffic and construction updates.

The department is using Twitter, a social networking site, to get information out about the agency and its work through tweets.

The department has picked up more than 500 followers since launching its pilot Twitter program earlier this month…

Tweets are monitored, and a general tweet will be posted if several postings inquire about certain conditions or delays, Gotcher said…

The department hired Saxum Public Relations of Oklahoma City to help with its Twitter account and analyze its effectiveness. The firm was paid $7,500.

Yep.  The Oklahoma Department of Transportation just paid Saxum PR $7,500 to create and “analyze” a Twitter account.  There’s no word if ODOT also bought the clear coat rust protection, extended warranty and a credit report monitoring service, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

Seriously, $7,500 to create a Twitter account and get 500 followers?!?  That seems kind of steep.  Hell, it only took us five minutes to create a fake ODOT twitter account and then analyze that it’s much better than ODOT’s official one.  It’s more entertaining, too.  Check these tweets out:

“¢ Odds that the Crosstown Bridge crumbles today: 6%

“¢ We shouldn’t have to tell u this, but don’t give money to the homeless guy on 1-44 and Penn.

“¢ North Meridian between Reno and 23rd is an absolute cluster f*ck. Avoid.

Anyway, I know people are quick to blame Saxum for swindling the state “” especially those self-anointed Social Media Gurus who are jealous of them”” but if someone offered us $7,500 to make a Twitter account, we’d take it.  In fact, we’d probably go all out and create an ODOT mascot based upon a “MASH” or “All in the Family” character.  We’d do that for only $5,000 more.  That’s a value.


  1. I’m going to have to respectfully disagree. Setting up a Twitter account is easy, sure–but Saxum did a lot more than that.

    Let me be clear–I am the FIRST person to criticize firms (and there are a few ahemelementfusionahem) who overcharge and underserve clients to support their own bloated overhead. And it’s no secret that companies charge clients based on what they can pay…and the state is a teat you can suck on for a loooong time!

    But I don’t think Saxum overcharged here, I really don’t. I broke down the math in in my blog. They created a twitter landing page, campaigned for followers and gave the ODOT staff 10 days of training. The training alone–10 days of staff time!–is worth much more than $7500.

    Please read my blog post for a different perspective…this is a very good discussion to have for those of us in this industry (or any kind of service industry that routinely has its value and worth called into question). http://bit.ly/DMfPv

  2. @okmedia really? 10 days of training? for twitter? are you kidding me? you’re defending this?

    first of all, the twitter page is just a picture of the OKC skyline (if it qualifies as a “skyline”), plus the DOT logo. if it takes anyone more than 20 minutes to set that up (including time for resizing photos), then they are complete morons. there was no “graphics” editing.

    and training, for twitter? really?

    i could have easily set up their same page in 20 minutes, taught people how to use twitter in another 20 minutes, immediately got 100-200 people as followers, and then paid 200 more people $2 a piece to follow me. hell, i wrote a script that lets me tweet from the command line (linux), so i don’t even have to use a browser to post something. that took me 5 minutes to figure out.

    as someone who is a true programmer, it amazes me that people think this stuff is so complicated. it is not hard! if you employ the right people (smart ones), things like this take a few hours from top to bottom. ad agencies do not employ smart people though, especially not for their IT work.

  3. I am not going to say it isn’t high, but I definitly am not going to say it is too high.

    Folks, for those of you who keep saying, “well I could have done it for spit-can” need to understand one simple thing. If ODOT had walked out and asked the first red-neck carrying an iPhone how do set up, manage, and analyze a social media campaign, YOU -yes YOU, would have been the first one to question how they “picked”. After all, you probably could have built it with a Drudge Siren too.

    Further more, if they had chosen you and you had screwed anything up (no clue what that could be, but I have seen lots of messed up Twitter accounts), each one of you would have been the first to exclaim how stupid ODOT is. It would be fodder for ya for a week.

    The reality is this. Unfortunately, state agencies don’t have the freedom to just pick you or I to do ANYTHING for them. They are not encouraged by us to do anything without putting thought and time into it (read money for those of you with jobs). For them, Twitter was Greek and they didn’t know how to speak it. They did exactly what they are expected to do and sought expert council. Sometimes expert council tells us what we already knew, but wisdom tells us that it is often better to ask anyway rather than pay the consequences of acting blindly.

    This whole “debate” is so childish and here I am being a part of it. :)


  4. Man, that is right on about Meridian. Too bad I didn’t see that before I found out the hard way. Thanks, fakeODOTwitter!

  5. It amazes me all the places that have a Twitter account. I was pulling in to the parking garage at Cox Center the other day and there was a handwritten sign telling you to follow them on Twitter. I’m not sure exactly which is more pathetic, them having a Twitter account, or the people who would actually follow them, but I doubt they paid $7,500 for someone to monitor and maintain it.

  6. You can’t tell me there isn’t at least 1 person on staff at ODOT that has a Twitter account and most likely uses it (or tweets) while at work. I mean, come on, these people have their own I.T. guys and surely someone WITHIN the organization could have set this up and trained them all while getting paid their normal salary. These people have engineers and computer experts in CADD and people who handle probably billions of dollars in projects, and it took 10 days to teach them how to tweet?

    On another note, so ODOT is sending out these tweets that inform us of problems, like “North Meridian between Reno and 23rd is an absolute cluster f*ck. Avoid”, or something along those lines. So all these people who follow ODOT get a tweet on their I-phone while they are driving and because they are addicted to it they feel they have to read it right now, thus taking their eyes off the road and probably cause an accident, which in turn causes ODOT to send out another tweet that some moron screwed up traffic for the rest of us.

    I give up. I’m going to go fix a nice bowl of oatmeal and not tweet about it.

  7. Sorry, one more thought, if ODOT wanted to get a bunch of followers in a short amount of time, why didn’t they just put a message up on one of those million dollar announcement boards on the interstates that say “Drive Safely” or whatever they say. They could just put up Follow us on Twitter at ODOT. I bet more than a few thousand people see those everyday and not just in OKC either. Damn, I need an easy button!

  8. Just wanted to say that Saxum was started by Renzi Stone, the former OU b baller…maybe $7500 wasn’t a ripoff after all…with all the bricks he laid at the Lloyd Noble Center, we could build a new arena!

  9. @sidburgess ODOT has to have its own IT department. if ODOT’s IT dept cannot handle a little twitter account in an hour or less, than we have a lot more to worry about than a wasted $7.5k.

    if they didn’t know about twitter, or how to work it, then they bought a service that they have no clue about? makes no sense. either they are stupid for not knowing how to set up twitter & use it, or they are stupid for buying stupid sh*t. it’s one of the two.

    my experience with [local] ad agencies (i did subcontracted IT/programming work) is that they hire either hot, big tittied chicks, or guys like ex OU b-ball players, and they use their images to pitch crappy ideas, hoping that either the tits or mild celebrity will distract the customer from actually knowing that they are getting crap and spending 10x the money that they should.

    the ONLY way i could see this being worth the money is if ODOT has a computer system that tracks local traffic, and someone wrote a script/small-program that integrates updates from it into twitter. but i don’t think this is what is happening. if it were, you wouldnt need training because it would be automated behind the scenes.

    anyways, anyone wanna help me pitch a $10k facebook page to ODOT?

  10. It wouldn’t matter if ODOT had the best IT staff in the US and they could create and monitor a twitter account like nobody’s business. ODOT farms out anything and everything possible, even if they have the staff to do it. Because, you know, it’s always better if a private company does it rather than a state agency, even if it’s a waste of time and money because the government would just waste time and money if they did it themselves. It’s the Yogi Berra business model.

  11. @cornercuttin – ” they hire either hot, big tittied chicks, or guys like ex OU b-ball players, and they use their images to pitch crappy ideas” – you sound bored, jealous and out of work. that is a dumb statement all the way around.

    saxum overcharged- what’s new?

  12. People in large numbers are going to “follow” the Oklahoma Department of Transportation? Why do I remind myself of my grandfather when I think about this idiotic waste of time?

  13. I never made the case that there was a good reason that ODOT didn’t have the ability to figure this all out. All I can go on is the quote from the lady who said they didn’t know anything about it.

    The fact that no one (apparently) knew how to set up the account is troubling for sure.

    I think what is more likely is that someone DID know but crusty management felt comfortable with just hiring it out.

    My point is simple. The cost doesn’t seem incredibly high for who did the job (caliber) and the nature of the beast (gov. contracting in general).

    Lol @ Patrick. I am not nearly that smart. But thanks for the compliment. :)


  14. @groovytunes – bored? yeah, i’ll give you that. but bored means i have no crazy drama, which is a good thing. but jealous? absolutely not. ive worked with ad companies, and they are no fun. if i wanted to continue the work, im sure i could take a pay cut and find a job at a local ad company. and out of work? im doing pretty well for my age & career.

    but i guess i shouldnt make blanket statements like i did. to be fair, i’m sure not ALL local ad agencies work how i described. the few that i have dealt with though are perfect examples of my description.

  15. @cornercuttin – I bet you are a badass with a command prompt and your little Twitter app (as if the world needed another twitter app). You’re like the lug nut guy, yelling at the crew cheif about how shitty the driver is.

    As far as $7,500 for a Twitter project, umm, I know how to setup Twitter accounts and stuff, if anyone needs help with one of those kinds of projects let me know, I’ll throw in a free website to go with it!!!

  16. OK, I’m a little late getting into this one. $7,500.00 seems a bit excessive for what I can see from this Twitter account. The ODOT logo looks like it was copied on a dirty scanner. The amount of training supposedly provided is truly laughable. And guess what? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have several Twitter accounts so you could get updates only for the parts of the state that you cared about?

    Don’t tell any of these folks about TwitPic or they’ll be spending a bunch more money to get photos posted!

    But I AM going to look into this HootSuite software that they use to post… unless it costs money to use!

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