NJ Town Uses Facebook Live to Engage Residents in Local Government
BRICK — This township appears to be the first in New Jersey to take advantage of Facebook's new "Live" feature to broadcast town hall-style meetings, according to Mayor John Ducey.
"I'm not aware of any other towns doing it," said Ducey. He tried the new social media tool this week and plans to hold monthly Town Hall Live meetings.
The live Facebook meetings are broadcast on the Brick Township page on the social media site and can be viewed there any time after airing.
"If it goes as well as the first one did, we'll probably do it as much as two times a month because I couldn't get to all the questions," Ducey said. He received more than 35 comments during the 30-minute broadcast Tuesday afternoon, but was able to only answer about a dozen of them.
For residents who were reluctant about being heard on a blog Talk Radio show that Ducey hosted, or being seen at the televised Brick Township Council Meetings, Ducey pointed out that Facebook helps increase public participation in government.
"Facebook is simple. You're sitting somewhere, either in your office, at a restaurant, or at your house. You're just typing in questions online. It's a lot easier," said Ducey.
In addition to making government more convenient and accessible, Ducey noted that Facebook and any means of social media to reach new or different voters is important.
"Some residents have always felt that they just weren't part of the government or didn't know how to get in contact with government officials, so I just try to make it as easy as possible by opening up as many avenues as we can," Ducey said. He also credited his staff for coming up with creative ideas.
Ducey pointed out that while the senior population appreciates being able to read a hard copy of newsletters the town sends out twice a year, the younger generation prefers using online resources, including social media.
“Reaching out to them and getting in contact with them and hearing what they want to see done with our town is very, very important," said Ducey.
He added that it's important for Brick to be adaptive to what its constituents are doing.
"To have that Facebook Live option that just started not too long ago and be able to interact with residents and have them ask me questions directly is definitely a plus, and a way to have transparent government and have people's questions answered without having to bother to go to a meeting or make a phone call and the old-time ways of communicating. It's just another great way of communicating," Ducey said.
A date for January's Town Hall Live meeting hasn't been set yet. Ducey says the township may do monthly meetings at 2 and 6:30 p.m.
Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.