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Tweeting from town hall

Social media help keep residents connected

A woman looks up information on Facebook at a library earlier this year. Towns across the region are looking toward social media to better reach the public they serve. File photo. (click for larger version)
July 19, 2010
With a nod to the ever increasing use of new methods of communication, more and more area towns are turning to, or at least considering, electronic methods such as Facebook or Twitter to disseminate information to residents.

Communities that don't use any such service are at least open to the idea.

"There are a lot of things we could do to better communicate [with residents]," said Dudley Selectman Jonathan Ruda of his proposal to have his town use Twitter to send messages to residents.

In this case, Twitter, a free service that allows cell phone or computer users to send short messages to others, could be used to notify people of snow emergencies, boil water orders and to provide information for senior citizens.

While towns already use cable access channels, Web sites, signs and other methods of communication, Ruda said an additional medium would be especially beneficial in this day in age.

"Let's face it. Everybody is busy nowadays trying to make ends meet. This would be a superb way [to communicate]," Ruda said. "This way it would almost be instantaneous."

Flooding individuals with so much information, however, could turn users off to using various messaging services, according to Spencer Selectmen Chairman Seth Fancher. "We don't want to inundate people with information to the extent where they just start ignoring it," Fancher said. "I think that is kind of the balancing act."

Fancher said he is not sure the town has enough information to justify using another method.

See Wednesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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