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Longboat Key Thursday, Jun. 28, 2018 2 years ago

Social media ignites on Longboat

Town Manager Tom Harmer has made it one of his priorities in the past six months to get Longboat Key on Twitter and Facebook.
by: Bret Hauff Staff Writer

Ur not going 2 believe what @TownofLBK is up 2 now #outreach.

Translation: Longboat Key has ignited a social media presence in the past few months with a Twitter account and now, soon to come, a Facebook page.

“What I’m trying to do is get information out there in multiple formats,” Town Manager Tom Harmer said. “We haven’t implemented a lot of social media options.”

Harmer has begun his efforts to improve direct communication from the town to its residents via social media. The town’s Twitter account — @TownofLBK — has been active for about four months. It’s a means of communication Harmer said he began using soon after he started working with the town.

Now the town is preparing to launch a Facebook page as a way to create “easily accessible” information about the town, Harmer said.

“I don’t think it’s any different than the [town] website,” Harmer said. “They’re tools to get the message out about the town.”

While Harmer said he doesn’t expect to hire anyone, invest any significant workforce hours or spend any money on social media, the town manager is hoping the additional means of communication will reach those whom the town hasn’t with its website, code red alerts and public notices in newspapers.

“We want to be transparent,” Harmer said. “We want to inform and educate.”

About 37% of Americans 65 and older — an age group that make up 68.2% of the island’s population, according to the Census Bureau — use social media, according to the Pew Research Center.

Data from the Pew Research Center.

And when it comes to adults age 50 and older, fewer than 1 in 6 acknowledge using Twitter, according to Pew statistics. Pew found that about 50% of people over the age of 50 use Facebook.

While resident Tom Freiwald said he doesn’t use social media much to get information about the town or otherwise — “We’re not very good at it,” he said — he said it’s a good idea for the town to broaden its horizon when it comes to communication.

Freiwald said the next generation of Longboat residents may be more social media savvy — justifying the town’s use of online tools to communicate with residents.

“For an entity like the town, who has so much to communicate and so many stakeholders, investing in Twitter and other things like that is a wise thing to do, even if the current residents are fairly low users,” Freiwald said.

I’m a Longboat Key Staff Reporter. I write stories about how decisions and events affect the island, its leaders and its citizens. I received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Emerson College, where I wrote for The Boston Globe. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 333.

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