By Janelle Breese Biagioni
Social media is not going away anytime soon. In fact, it continues to grow daily and has become an important tool in our lives to help us stay connected, to promote business and social causes, and to learn about community events. Social media, in particular, Facebook is a channel that could compliment the connections you have made in your building or neighbourhood.
Neighbours have plenty of reasons for connecting on Facebook. It’s a place to post events that may be happening in the neighbourhood or nearby. It’s a place to post important information such as a lost pet, or notice of a road closure. It is also a place to keep neighbours informed about upcoming meetings such as Block Watch or Emergency Preparedness etc.
There are two ways to connect your neighbours through Facebook. You can either create a page or a group for your neighbourhood by clicking on the links found on the left hand side of your feed at the very bottom. Here are some things to consider in choosing a page over a group:
Creating a Neighbourhood Page
- There are very specific guidelines to use when creating a page on Facebook so check them out: www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php
- Pages need to have a relevant name to the place, person or organization it is showcasing. It seems natural to name it something like “Cook Street Neighbours”.
- Once you publish a page, it is visible to everyone so you want to be sure that whatever you are posting on the page is what you want the world to know! For example, it is not advisable to post that you are heading out of town on a 3 week cruise and would like people to keep an eye on your house. If your page is named after the street, you don’t want to alert those with poor intentions as to where unoccupied homes are.
- When a page is published anyone can post to it as well
- You can have an “unpublished” page; however, this requires that anyone who is going to post to the page must have a “role” on the page. This means that the person setting up the page is the administrator and would assign a role to everyone. Neighbours could be added as a “Live Contributor”. The challenge here is that the admin person must already be friends on Facebook with each person they are adding and they must add each person individually. Time consuming, but doable.
Creating a Group for Your Neighbourhood
In many ways, this is a much simpler way to go. Facebook groups are a specific way to keep in touch with the people that you want to and not the general public. In a group, neighbours can post comments, videos, or share photos and make comments on posts just like they do on their personal timeline.
Facebook groups can be created as:
- Public – this means that anyone, anywhere can find the group and post something to the group. For a neighbourhood, this may not be the best as then you must be guarded about what you post (e.g. leaving town on vacation)
- Closed – this means that only members (e.g. neighbours) are added to the group. Anyone in the general public can find the group, but they CANNOT SEE any posts in the group. The public is also not able to post to a closed group and would have to send a request to do so. This keeps your post private and only available to those who should see the information. So if you are going away and would like someone to pick up your newspaper or water the garden, you could feel confident in posting to a closed group.
- Secret – this is similar to the closed group with an added security. Only members of this group can find the group. So the admin person adds everyone to the group and only those admitted to the group can find it on Facebook and/or post to it.
In closing, remember that not all of your neighbours will be on Facebook or feel computer-savvy enough to participate. You will want to connect personally with these neighbours to keep them informed of events happening on your block.