Adam T. Vaccaro

Occasional musings on journalism and media

Posts Tagged ‘selectmen

Sandwich’s Attempt to Attempt at Social Media

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I spent my Labor Day weekend in my hometown of Sandwich, Mass.

The small Cape Cod town is both charming and boring in its slow, somewhat antiquated style. Its general resistance to new business and industry is attributed to its having the highest property tax rates on Cape Cod despite not possessing anything near the tourist appeal of Wellfleet, Provincetown or Dennis.

Anyway, that sort of sets the stage for this mostly benign but puzzling article I saw in the town’s free weekly, The Sandwich Broadsider last weekend: (The Broadsider is owned by Gatehouse Media, which also owns The Patriot Ledger, my current journalistic home base.) Here it is online.

Headline: “Selectmen explore social media options”

Key sentence:

Town Manager Bud Dunham said a municipal Facebook page is not the way to go and is something that [the town’s I.T. director] would likely not support.

The town wants to inform folks of going-ons, meetings and Town Hall news through social media. Sounds smart to me. And several other municipalities, too, seeing how social media usage by local governments is not uncommon. But Sandwich wants to do this without with Facebook.

Let me state again: this is mostly benign. Not really a big deal. In a faster news cycle than the week before Labor Day, it might not make the paper.

BUT…

How on earth do you say you want to get into social media but take Facebook out of the discussion? You can’t “do” social media without including Facebook. It’s not a matter of finding the right platform and saying, “Here we go! Now we’re in social media!”

Having a social media strategy is about using as many forms of social media as possible, or at least, as many that are relevant and applicable to your brand. (So no, the town doesn’t need a Spotify account. An Instagram account might work out pretty well, though.)

A social media strategy is diverse. And let’s be real: it includes Facebook. You wouldn’t say you want to build a house and not include a foundation. You wouldn’t say you want to build a baseball team and not have a pitcher. So don’t say you’re going to have a social media strategy and not include Facebook.

But selectwoman Linell Grundman doesn’t see it that way. “There are other social media. I think we need to do some research,” she said, according to The Broadsider.

There are indeed other forms of social media. That’s why the town should use them all if they’re serious about enacting a social media strategy.

The other town complaint from the meeting is that a Facebook page would require staff time to update. I don’t get how that would be any different than it is with any other form of communication. And with Twitter, for instance, you need to put in a lot more work to stay near the top of someone’s feed than is required by Facebook.

Okay. Like I’ve already said twice, not really a big deal. In truth, the selectmen should be focused on getting those property taxes down and finding ways to develop the town’s stagnant commercial sector, not Facebook.

But their comments on social media in The Broadsider, to me, reflect a lack of understanding about social media itself. And with social media such a key element of business growth today, perhaps that lack of understanding is indicative of a more general lack of understanding about today’s economy.

That would represent a far more significant problem for Sandwich. For now, the selectmen just look silly by saying they want a balanced diet but refusing to eat protein.

Written by Adam T. Vaccaro

September 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Commentary

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