This is the first article in a series about neighborhoods and social media. We’ll explore some of the innovative ways that neighborhoods are using social media and what the keys to their success have been.
In these modern times where work and family seem to be competing for every moment of our spare time, it can often be difficult to connect with our neighbors on a regular basis. Fortunately, the sheer abundance and availability of new technology is rapidly providing us with a new means of interacting both online and off. Utilizing social media platforms such as Facebook with your neighbors can be an effective and wide-reaching method of connecting with your community and provide an outlet for brainstorming, collaboration, and security.
However, a successful Facebook page does not happen overnight. When creating a neighborhood Facebook page the first thing to remember is content is king.
Focusing On Content
It’s the age old question: which came first – the chicken, or the egg? The success of a Facebook page is dependent on both quality content and an engaged, energized audience. But which one do you focus on first?
If you’re just starting a Facebook page rather than a group, then consistently creating quality content should be your number one priority. Neighborhood Associations may also need to create strong content for their Facebook group in the beginning to “seed” the forum until the community members begin to take it upon themselves.
Great content has the ability to attract, engage, and retain new audiences. One way to think about content creation is through the categories of discussion, action, and announcements.
- Discussion: A successful Facebook page will provide neighbors with a forum to discuss ideas and issues that impact their local community, such as crime and safety. Discussion posts should encourage and facilitate the sharing of diverse opinions.
- Action: Being neighborhood-based, means that online groups can easily meet and act together. Action posts allow neighbors to rally around a cause and organize in a grassroots fashion.
- Announcements: Many neighborhoods like to hold block parties or special events, and Facebook is a great way to promote those events and generate interest.
But what do these types of content actually look like? And what are some creative examples of them in use?
❶ Place Explainers & Local Love
Every neighborhood has quirks, traits, businesses and landmarks that make it unique. Why not highlight those characteristics and explore some of the history behind them? For example, what’s the deal with the empty lot on Belmont and SE 12th, where the delightful goats reside? The Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood has fully embraced this idea with their ongoing post series called, “Know Your Neighborhood.”
❷ Eye Catching Visuals
People love beautiful images of their neighborhood, city and state. The Pearl District neighborhood page allows residents to view their neighborhood from angles they have may have never seen before, thanks to the amazing photography of Guy Bodin. Visuals can also help attract people to your events. Who wouldn’t want to go to Mt. Scott-Arleta’s Ice Cream Social after seeing this flyer?
❸ Imagine the Possibilities
Is there a vacant lot in your neighborhood that would make the perfect park or a street that is in desperate need of some traffic calming? Facebook can provide community members an excellent platform to voice what improvements they want to see in their neighborhood, think outside the box, dream big together, and maybe even rally their neighbors to make it happen. The Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood encouraged residents to transform their underutilized alleys into community assets.
❹ Local News and Thought Provoking Conversations
Most people are numb to the everyday news stories that saturate the media. However, neighborhoods can cut through this fog by finding relevant local stories and reposting them with a question or statement that shows the relation back to the community. The Foster-Powell neighborhood used this technique to spark conversations around gentrification in their neighborhood.
Facebook as a social media platform has risen to prominence over the last few years. It’s a tool used by individuals, corporations, governments, and small businesses, as well as a host of artists, musicians, public figures, and many, many others. It is also a tool that’s very useful on the community level. Facebook can be used to connect with your neighbors in any number of ways, whether it is through your neighborhood association, a business association, or even simply neighbor to neighbor. While there will never be a substitute for genuine face-to-face interaction, Facebook can serve as a stand-in for when that interaction might not otherwise happen.
By: Jay Derderian & Kelly Fedderson