Bringing a Community Together Through Social Media

I have been living in Plymouth, MA – “America’s Hometown” – for the past 8 years, but because I didn’t grow up here and don’t know who the “players” are, I don’t have the “hometown” feel that the motto boasts.  I eat and shop locally, my daughter goes to the public schools here, and I have even made a few friends; however, I can honestly tell you that I have no idea what is going on in this town and that is mostly because the town has a very poor online and social media presence.

Long gone are the days of reading a local newspaper – especially for those of us who work long hours and spend any and all free time with our children and trying to relax.  Like many, I get my news from online publications or national news outlets – either late at night when my daughter is asleep or on my SiriusXM radio during my morning and evening commutes.  I cancelled my subscription to our local paper, the “Old Colony Memorial,” because the information was dated by the time I got around to reading it and most of it didn’t interest me anyway – sorry, but I really don’t care if the high school swim team beat Carver or who the MVP of the baseball team is, and I certainly don’t care if the senior center is having a quilt fair. I opted instead to “like” the Facebook page thinking I would get frequent information in my Facebook newsfeed and that maybe it would be more interesting or useful, but others’ lack of interest in the posts simply affirmed my feelings and views of the content being delivered.

Old Colony Memorial

9 hrs ·

Plymouth North’s road to a state tennis title starts with Hingham

PLYMOUTH NORTH BOYS TENNIS: Netters expecting excellence in upcoming state tournament

Andy Dugan believes that his Plymouth North boys tennis team has the potential to at least duplicate his team’s appearance in last year’s Division 2 South


Top of Form

Case in point… this post from the Old Colony Memorial’s Facebook page has been up for 9 hours with only 1 like, 0 shares and 0 comments. 

I may live in Plymouth, but like most who live here I get up every day and go to work elsewhere.  Many commute to Boston or Providence (which are almost equidistance) and can easily be kept up to date with the news and goings on there because they are major metropolises, each with their own local reporting for newspapers and television.  I, on the other hand, commute to the south coast of MA and work in New Bedford, Fairhaven and Dartmouth.  Not exactly a major market as compared to Boston and Providence, yet I get a wealth of information on the area all thanks to the social media news outlet New Bedford Guide.

The New Bedford Guide is your one-stop shop for anything and everything that is going on in the south coast, and “fans” of the Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts get regular (at least 5-10 daily) posts about everything from events happening in the area, restaurant reviews, crime, missing children and pets, local government and schoolboard updates, volunteer opportunities, and much more.  New Bedford Guide is a multi-media, money-making business that boasts more 1.5 million “reaches” per month.

December 2014 Facebook “reaches” by New Bedford Guide.

In my opinion, the New Bedford Guide is so successful because it utilizes social media as its major point of contact with consumers, instead of treating it as an afterthought or a secondary reach to consumers as other media outlets do. It encourages people to like and engage in conversation on its Facebook page by posting enough information and images to pique ones interest, instead of just posting a link to its website as to satisfy its advertisers which in turn loses its connection with its followers.  Consumers want and need information that is easy to access and New Bedford Guide’s Facebook page provides just that.  Just this week alone I learned of a car accident in the North End, a missing dog (who was subsequently found thanks to the power of social media!), information about a new charter school that is accepting applicants, read an article about the Olympic Bid committee proposing that sailing would take place in Buzzard’s Bay off of New Bedford if Boston wins the bid, and I saw amazing photos of the south coast that were submitted by fans of New Bedford Guide.

In addition to its Facebook page, New Bedford Guide also has a Twitter and Instagram account as well as a website where local businesses can advertise.  They do this by either purchasing as space on their website or by paying New Bedford Guide to run a spotlight or review on their business and publishing it to their Facebook feed.  Many local businesses have their own social media sites to help drive business, but with the far reach and engagement that New Bedford Guide has, it makes sense to utilize them as another great marketing tool and resource.

New Bedford Guide’s success comes from the fact that they are putting out original and shared content at frequent intervals and because they encourage participation and open dialogue.  They ask questions on their Facebook page about people’s feelings about hot topics and they even poll their fans and create lists on their website for things like favorite breakfast spots, best Portuguese food, and even best places to take your kids sledding. The people who live and work in the south coast feel like they have a voice because of New Bedford Guide and it is a way for everyone to feel more connected because of the shared information.  People have a stronger sense of community and pride for where they live because they are seeing all of the good that is being done in the area and not just the negative that is reported on the news in Providence and Boston.  They are made to feel like co-creators of the site because they are encouraged to participate by sharing photos and opinions and experiences.

In these current times with social media becoming more and more the primary source of information for people, it only makes sense that towns and communities take New Bedford Guide’s lead and business model and implement it for themselves.  Whether someone takes it on as their own endeavor as the owner of New Bedford Guide has, or towns and communities designate someone in their marketing and PR department to do it, the town and its businesses and citizens will benefit greatly from it.

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