City of Nanaimo uses social media successfully – side bar

The City of Nanaimo uses social media to communicate with its citizens and promote its projects.

A blind venture into using social networking as a tool has turned into a success for the City of Nanaimo.

A staffer in Nanaimo opened a Facebook page for the city two years ago as a way to connect with residents who were already active on social networking sites.

Last week the city’s Facebook page surpassed the 4,000-member mark.

“We started not quite knowing what we were getting into and it slowly built into a very powerful tool,” city senior application analyst Jason Birch said.

The city employs a Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube to connect with the public.

Twitter is active and questions are almost immediately responded to.

The sites are monitored by an existing staff member. They are used to showcase city initiatives, remind people about municipal tax deadlines, inform citizens about public works projects and promote parks and rec programs.

And recently a contest was held that saw the parks and recreation department post three pictures on its Facebook page, with the public voting on one for the cover of the department’s fall active living guide.

The city’s Parks and Recreation department also uses YouTube for its initiatives, Birch said.

The city still employs traditional communications methods such as press releases, newspaper inserts, and city website updates. The communication is the same but the difference social media is real time.

“This takes place where a lot of citizens are,” Birch said. “People respond to questions and communicate with each other immediately, it’s another way of communication.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com