Shelby TownshipJune 12, 2013
Shelby expands social media efforts to connect with residents
By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer
SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Shelby Township is harnessing the power of social media in an effort to connect with residents and disseminate real-time information about the township when it’s needed most.
The township recently launched its first Facebook account at www.facebook.com/Char terTownshipOfShelby and reinvented its Twitter presence, now called @TheShelbyTwp.
Spearheading the township’s social media presence is Deputy Supervisor Brad Bates, a former C & G Newspapers reporter, who said both platforms allow the township another method of reaching out to the community and relaying important information to those who need it most — the residents.
“The big message here is transparency. We want everyone to know what’s going on in Township Hall, whether it’s the process of setting agendas of meetings, or it’s why Sunoco is sending out mailers about a pipeline in the northern portion of the township,” he said. “This is another venue of opening up the information we already have available to a wider audience.”
Township officials said the new Twitter account serves as a resource for up-to-the-minute reports on major events around the township — such as road construction, utility and crime alerts — while the Facebook page is a place for residents to find expanded updates on township activities and events, photos from around the community, detailed announcements from Township Hall and job postings from the Human Resource Department.
Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said the township’s new Facebook page joins established township pages for the Shelby Township Library and Shelby Township Parks and Recreation Department in an effort to make the chain of information between the township and the community as short as possible, while ensuring that the message is delivered in a clear, concise manner.
“This will bring our government and our residents closer than ever before,” Stathakis said in a statement.
The new social media tools will dovetail with the relaunch of www.shelbytwp.org, which officials said would be streamlined with more options for residents and other members of the community to interact with government.
James Blackburn, of BPI Information Systems, the township’s IT vendor, said the new website will feature more interactive tools and a new design that’s more compatible with wireless devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
“The way residents access the Internet has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. It used to be that we were only concerned with what type of web browser the user was using; now, we have to be compatible with not only computer equipment, but also with smartphones and tablets,” Blackburn said.
He said the company touched base with each of the township’s departments about the redesign to discuss their needs and figure out a way to make it easier for them to share information with residents on the site.
“There’s something called ‘content management systems,’ and what it allows us to do is give the ability, of each department, to easily update the township website, so when there are announcements, new information, special events and special records, they can very easily make this information available on the website, and then residents will have access to it, giving more transparency to the local government,” he said.
Blackburn expects the new website to launch within the next eight weeks.