Town of Coaldale gets social

Kalen Hastings, Director of External and Labour Relations, and municipal intern Stacey Leavitt check out the Town of Coaldale’s new Facebook page.

Kalen Hastings, Director of External and Labour Relations, and municipal intern Stacey Leavitt check out the Town of Coaldale’s new Facebook page.

Following on the heels of its official Twitter account, the Town of Coaldale has created a Facebook “fan” page as a means of getting information to residents in a timely, user-friendly way.

“Social media has really become an effective communication tool over the past few years and municipalities are starting to take advantage of it,” says Kalen Hastings, Director of External and Labour Relations.  “So many people are on Facebook and Twitter now. It’s a great way to get information out in a timely fashion and to share what’s going on in the Town at any given moment. It’s up-to-the-minute and, best of all, it doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime.”

The Town of Coaldale’s official Twitter account, @CoaldaleAB, was created in response to severe weather in June that caused flooding throughout Southern Alberta. The Town’s Emergency Operations Committee decided Twitter was the best method to relay relevant information directly to residents in the event of an emergency. The account will continue to be the Town’s chief method of emergency communication in the future.

Moving into Facebook was just a natural extension of that decision, says Hastings.

“There’s so much going on in Coaldale ,and Facebook is a great way to let people know about it,” says Hastings. “We want to make sure that citizens are informed about Town government, but we also want to use Facebook to promote events, remind people of special dates like sports registration and things like that. Even something as simple as letting people know there will be a detour due to road maintenance or that snow plow routes are in effect is a small but valuable way to help residents.

“We can also use social media to direct people to other media, such as the Town’s website and the Sunny South News, which will help us get the message out even more efficiently. It’s all part of a larger strategy to keep residents informed.”

Another benefit to Facebook is its visual element. The Town’s official Facebook page will also act as a showcase for photos of events and other activities that residents may have wanted to see but were unable to attend. Local photographers are welcome to submit their own photos of the Town for posting on the page, if they like.

“Coaldale is such a beautiful community and we really want to highlight that,” says Hastings. “Not just to the people in our own community but to Facebook users all around the world. It’s a great way to show off the town.”

Facebook users need only click “like” on the Town of Coaldale’s fan page (search Town of Coaldale Community/Government) to receive regular updates in their news feed. Anyone interested in contributing photos can contact Hastings via email at external@coaldale.ca.

“We’re just starting out and we’re learning as we go,” says Hastings. “But we really hope as many people as possible like the page and spread the word. Once it goes viral, we can reach a much wider audience and reach our full potential.”