January 14, 2017
By LEAH DEARBORN
LYNNFIELD — Town officials are creating a plan to increase civic engagement through social media.
“It’s so popular and such a critical means of communicating,” said Selectman Richard Dalton. “We don’t have that many people stepping forward for various boards and committees.”
He said a more active social media presence will make town officials more accessible to residents.
Dalton referenced a social media program used by the town of Franklin as a good benchmark and mentioned Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) as a politician who has vocally supported the use of digital communication to stimulate community involvement.
“‘While people are calling in this generation for transparency, what they’re really talking about is accessibility,’” quoted Dalton from an article printed in The Municipal Advocate newspaper.
He cited online platforms like Twitter as an effective means of relaying time-sensitive information, such as in the event of the Department of Public Works wanting to warn residents of a fallen tree blocking a roadway.
“I know we have our individual Facebook pages, but creating a social media outlet for the community is the key,” said Christopher Barrett, vice-chairman of the board.
Town Administrator James M. Boudreau said he spent time reviewing a number of accounts belonging to other towns.
He said that while Wakefield’s social media accounts were fairly active, other town accounts were sparse at best or nonexistent.
Barrett pointed to social media’s role in the 2016 presidential election as evidence of its widespread use.
Dalton said it will be necessary for the board to pay close attention to policies regarding who has access to town social media accounts.
“We’ll make sure the policy is very tight so people know what’s allowed and what’s not,” said Boudreau.
The board didn’t vote to change any existing policies. Dalton suggested a committee of two to three individuals should be formed to analyze the town’s public social media strategy.
Leah Dearborn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.