By CHRIS JACKETT
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – The city is increasing its online presence in an effort to keep residents up to the minute with events going on around town.
Special Projects Coordinator Natalie Rankine is spearheading two different initiatives.
The first is a “Question of the Month” poll on the city Website, www.wyandotte.net. The city experimented with this feature last month when a poll asked visitors, “Which movie would you like to see on Sept. 10, 2010?” at the Flicks on Bricks event. With four options, “The Wizard of Oz” beat “Up” and two others out by a narrow margin as 445 votes were cast.
The question for September is, “What is your favorite Summertime Wyandotte Event?” Options include the Wyandotte Street Art Fair, Flicks on Bricks, Independence Day fireworks and the Independence Day parade are available to be voted on.
“We have experimented with polling this summer by posing a question about what movie people would like to see at our Flicks on Bricks outdoor movie series,” Rankine said. “The response was great, so we decided to continue. Future questions include event related topics, public services and general feedback.”
A more constant form of interaction is the city’s two-week old Facebook page, “The City of Wyandotte, Michigan.” Already with more than 300 fans, the page is posting updates on events around town, changes due to weather and news stories about things happening in town.
“Facebook is a wonderful – not to mention, free – way to connect, and most importantly, it’s instant,” Rankine said.
Officials got great use out of its new Facebook page Thursday. When a thunderstorm hit the farmers market about 3 p.m. and several vendors and patrons left, Rankine was able to bring the crowd back for those who remained, as well as the special Farmer John and his Barnyard Express event from 4 to 6 p.m.
“I immediately posted a message (from my phone) on our Facebook status and people came back to the market, solely because they read that we were still open on Facebook,” Rankine said. “Without our account, our farmers wouldn’t have sold more produce today. The Facebook account will also help to drive more traffic to our Website, keeping citizens better informed.”
There are also Facebook pages for Wyandotte Museums, Wyandotte Farmers Market and Art in Wyandotte, each geared at keeping patrons updated on those events.
“Our city is fortunate to have a very progressive leadership and staff that understands the importance of technology and the distribution of information,” Rankine said. “Social media mostly targets the younger generation, but people of all ages (use) Facebook. My parents and even my grandfather have accounts. It’s how we all stay connected. It’s important that our city take advantage of this opportunity.”
As the city gets adjusted to updating residents of events through Facebook, other social networking options such as Twitter have been taken up by other businesses and cities.
“We’re testing the waters right now, but are definitely keeping our options open and will be ready to adapt when the next big thing comes along,” Rankine said.
Rankine also said Mayor Joseph Peterson is a big proponent of the getting the city into the social media loop, and is eager to hear input from residents. “Mayor Peterson himself is very excited about social networking and we are archiving the results of the surveys so that we might use them to make future decisions for the city,” Rankine said. “In addition, he is implementing a new program called Coffee and Conversation once every few months to connect one-on-one with citizens of the city. The mayor will meet with people to discuss concerns or ideas.”
Visit www.wyandotte.net for details on Coffee and Conversation, which occurs 10 a.m. the third Friday of each month at the City Council chambers, 3131 Biddle Ave.
Search and “like” the city’s four Facebook pages at www.facebook.com.
(Contact Chris Jackett at [email protected])