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BEACHCOMBER - Look Who's Using Social Media

  • By David Barron

With social media growing exponentially through the usage of smart phones or computers, it’s not surprising that local cities, primarily police and fire departments are jumping into the Internet pool.
For the uninitiated, today’s social media includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Nixle and countless blogs. 

If you don’t know what all those things are, just ask any teenager!
For corporations and government it is a way of directly communicating with the public without anybody screening your information such as the news media.
The Journal has a Facebook page. The primary purpose is to let folks know what’s in the newspaper and to drive them to our website at www.sgvjournal.com.
City of Monterey Park recently announced “GO MPk,” a free app where residents and visitors can file complaints to city officials about city problems. Monterey Park Police has a Twitter account at Twitter.com/MontereyParkPD
It’s almost like a game of “upmanship” to see who can tap on to the latest technology to reach out to the public.
There is also a secondary issue involved locally, that of communicating with the non-English reading or writing population.
Now, Alhambra has announced that it is the first in the nation to use Weibo – which is a Chinese language twitter.
Some say it is a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook. It is one of the most popular sites in China, in use by well over 30 percent of Internet users.
It was launched by SINA Corporation on 14 August 2009,[1] and has 503 million registered users as of December 2012. About 100 million messages are posted each day on Sina Weibo. It is one way of reaching the immigrant Chinese population without having to go through the Asian press in the area.
While the neighboring cities of Alhambra, San Gabriel, Temple City and Arcadia are highly active in Facebook, other cities are not. Some government officials have concerns about legal issues and prohibit official Facebook pages by city department.
Monterey Park, which has no Facebook page, has several unofficial pages posted by elected officials. City officials Mayor Teresa Real Sebastian and City Clerk Vincent Chang have Facebook pages. But so do Council members Hans Liang and Peter Chan
Most cities have a website with pages for each department, but with layoffs, furlough days and even promotions, keeping city websites up-to-date are a big chore. First, you have to find somebody with some computer skills and the time to spend a couple of hours a week updating the site.
Typically, the website or Facebook chore is relegated to the lowest person on the totem pole – a secretary or a clerk, but sometimes you’ll find a police sergeant or lieutenant doing the inputting. The same goes for city Facebook pages.
Locally, Arcadia has the premiere Facebook page with lots of content. The page is also “liked” by 1,653 people. Alhambra Police also holds its own with about 1,623 likes.
While some Facebook Pages have interesting content, a lot of it is promotional material that publicizes programs and services of the organizations.
 

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