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Mayor: Open to More Social Media Use

City Councilor Robert Logan is pushing for the city to expand its use of social media.

Mayor Jeanette McCarthy said this week she is open to expanding the city's use of social media platforms to distribute information to its residents but cautioned against potential pitfalls.

"We can't go into it blind. But, we have to look into it,” McCarthy said during a Tuesday, Nov. 13 meeting of the city's E-Committee at City Hall.

McCarthy made the comments in response to City Councilor Robert Logan's resolution to beef up the city's use of social media to communicate with residents. The discussion come amidst continuing complaints by city officials and residents that the city has not adequately communicated crucial information to them. For example, the city failed to notify residents of whether trash pickup would be delayed on the day of Hurricane Sandy. 

Now, McCarthy said she would like to the city expand use of social media, but must first implement a comprehensive program. She said each department would need a full-time employee to operate social media and would need training and policies to follow. Any social media policy would have to potential legal liability issues and oversight of employees to make sure they are correctly operating their accounts, McCarthy said. 

"I got to make sure who is going to use it and how it is used,” she said. 

Currently, city departments are supposed to forward any info they went distributed on to the public to the city's 911 emergency center, which operates @Waltahm911Disp Twitter account, according to McCarthy. Also, the Waltham Police and Waltham Fire departments both use Twitter to disseminate information to residents and media.

Logan agreed with McCarthy saying accounts would need to be monitored but stressed the city needs to improve its overall communication with residents and use social media to do it. 

Pork Man November 16, 2012 at 03:23 PM
McCarthy, I wouldn't waste the money, I'm pretty sure that social media is just a fad. Either way make sure you overthink it and don't talk to any of the 100's of Boston companies/colleges that have been using it successfully for the last 3-5 years. If possible, give the job to a family member or someone you know so "I got to make sure who is going to use it and how it is used,”
Jason Wichern November 16, 2012 at 03:37 PM
I am pleased that the city is willing to find new ways to get information out to the residents. It is obvious that our fellow citizens are out of the loop when it comes to information, as many should have seen this week when many people forgot the Veterans Day holiday observed on Monday. While people could and should have checked the city website to see a delay in garbage, it takes little effort to send out a reminder email about garbage, or yard waste, or even the leaf vacuum program. Many cities and towns already do this and hopefully the city does take the time to make sure they do it right. One thing i disagree with is each department doesnt need its own social media person. The city should have 1 or 2 people who have control over sending out the info. 1 account should be used to send out info for the city. I hope the mayor and councilpeople talk and discuss with other cities and towns how they are using social media and best practices when sending out info. Its a great start, now they need good, solid execution.
Alice H November 16, 2012 at 05:11 PM
The Waltham Police Department uses social media well. They did a great job getting the info out during Hurricane Sandy.
Stephen Squires November 16, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Why are our city officials looking into more ways to spend money and complicate the system. If I remember correctly the city has a website they can use to post any message that the people of Waltham need to see. This would give the citizens of Waltham one place they would know to go to get information. What it sounds like to me is that every department wants its own site for messages. So we need to hire one more person for each department in the city just to twitter us? Lets try this idea, any time a department has a message that they need to inform the Waltham citizens about they send it to one person and that person updates the notification section on the City of Waltham's Main webpage. Then the citizens of Waltham could go to one place to get all their information for the city. I realize this would mean we would not be able to spend a lot of money hiring new city employees, or buy new equipment for them to use. I would not worry to much about it though. I am sure the city will soon develop another plan to over complicate and inflate the cost of covering for the next mistake they make. Sorry for the rant but this one was just to ridiculous for me not to comment on.
Ryan Grannan-Doll (Editor) November 16, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Stephen, The story does not say the mayor would hire one more person. It says they would have an FT worker to manage it. Also, most surrounding towns use social media in addition to their website to distribute info. In today's world of communications, people are expecting to receive such on info on their preferred mediums. As a result, like any business would, the city must go where the customers (in this case taxpayers) go.
Jason Wichern November 16, 2012 at 07:53 PM
the website is a great place to store all the information, but is not always immediately accessible from all phone & devices, nor is it timely. Most citizens are not looking at the city website multiple times of the day. They do with Twitter/facebook. Twitter/facebook is a good complement to the website and should be used to send out info when something happens AND directs them to the city website for more details when necessary. I agree its too much to hire someone for each dept just to handle social media. It would take 1 person to handle all the departments and their messages. Its not as if there are tons of messages a day. Police do a few a day. Im sure other depts will be a lot less than that. This is something that should cost very little to operate and can be handled by almost anyone. But it would be helpful for getting the word out to the community about whats happening in our community.

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