The Town of Lincoln officially launched their Facebook page this past Sunday. New Town Manager Bill Reed and Town Clerk Shelly Crosby are the two administrators of the page, and representatives from the various town departments have been designated as content submitters.
The page was created almost two weeks ago, but kept offline while it was being constructed. Crosby did the bulk of the work on the site after it was suggested by Reed.
“Bill asked if the town had a Facebook page shortly after he took office”, said Crosby, “and was surprised to find out that we didn’t.”
Shelly said that Lincoln did look into starting a Facebook page several years ago, but were advised by legal counsel not to do it. “At the time we were told that if we started a Facebook site we would be unable to restrict posting on the page. By law certain types of communication to the town have to be acted upon within 48 hours, and if someone posted to our page and we didn’t see it in time it could open the town up to potential liability. So the decision was made not to join Facebook.”
Facebook usage has exploded over the past few years. The company website says that they had over 900 million monthly users at the end of March, 2012, with 521 million of them using the site daily. The network also has over 42 million pages – sites promoting a business, band, group, or organization – with ten or more likes. And with that growth has come increased functionality, including the ability for page administrators to limit who can post to their page and what type of content can be posted.
Reed saw the potential benefits to getting the town active on Facebook, and made the project a priority. “We are trying to get more social interaction between the town office and the people of Lincoln”, he said. “The functions of local government are foreign to many people in the town, and we want to introduce them to the services we provide.”
Lincoln has run a website – www.lincolnmaine.org – for several years, using it to disseminate information to residents and non-residents alike. But the site is currently being redesigned, and lacks some of the tools provided by Facebook for instantaneous communication.
Crosby foresees the town using the Facebook page to communicate schedule changes, traffic issues, and updates about events happening around town. Whereas updates to their regular website are only seen when someone specifically visits the page, Facebook will publish status updates from the town into the rolling news feed of people who have liked them on Facebook. That means that the town office will have the ability to communicate to a larger audience quickly when the need arises.
The other things she is looking forward to sharing on the town’s new Facebook page are photos. Both Crosby Community Events Coordinator Amanda Woodard have cameras, and will be snapping pictures at area events to share with residents.
“We already have about 8000 photos from the past five years or so”, she said. “We will be sharing some of those on the Facebook page as time goes on.”
Facebook has made photo sharing a central part of their network, and make it easy for users to share pictures. The company claims to average about 300 million photo uploads per day.
Crosby and the town have been adding to that number, with over 200 photos already uploaded to their page. You can see those photos, along with the other information the town has posted, at www.facebook.com/TownOfLincolnMaine.