by Dan Slee
A few days ago I had something of a Eureka moment.
We were looking at how a leisure centre could best use Facebook. In the room with me was a colleague and the centre manager himself.
"Maybe we should just have the one Facebook page for leisure centres right across the borough."
Hmmm. That didn't feel right.
"Or how about one for a leisure centre?"
Better. Much better. But that still didn't quite feel totally there. We spoke about the centre user and what they may want.
"So, what if someone loved zumba and didn't want to be bothered with gym opening times?"
We searched for zumba and Walsall on Facebook. That's the borough we were in. Just to see what is there.
We found an zumba instructor and a rather magnificent 1,400 people liking her page.
Suddenly, it became quite clear.
Would a zumba enthusiast be more likely to sign-up for zumba updates? Or zumba floating in amongst gym, badminton, squash, swimming, weight lifting and judo?
Or to ask another question, when you look for information on a council website, would you want it straight away or would you want to have to go through six other services before you got the lollipop?
That's a simple question. You want the one.
So, maybe, what we need is not just one big Facebook page. Or even an oligarchy of pages based on services. What we need are lots of little ones for each class, group or community.
Look at New York City. They have 5,000 people liking their City Council Facebook page and a similar number on Twitter. But they have 400,000 following @metmuseum as well as 1,300 liking an AIDS initiative.
Or look at the Scottish Island of Orkney. On Twitter 2,000 follow the council, 4,000 like their library, 400 the story telling festival and 80 sign-up for the jobs feed. So in other words, twice as many like things the council does rather than the council itself.
Look even at Walsall Council. 4,000 like the council Twitter while 800 sign up for @walsallwildlife a countryside ranger's tweets about bats, birds and wildlife and 160 getting environmental health updates.
So, it's not about having one medium size official presence jealously guarded by a comms person.
It's actually about having scores of engaged little ones that together add up to a better connected, better informed population.