China Ridge Trails Association uses social media to advertise events like this snowshoe outing.

China Ridge Trails Association uses social media to advertise events like this snowshoe outing.

Social media and Internet websites become commonplace

Social media can be a valuable tool for non-profit organizations, businesses and individuals.

The emergence of websites for organizations has become a must rather than a should.  Rural communities are no different.  When people are looking for the who, what, where, when, why and how of an event, program, society, club or activity, they almost always go to their computer first.

Many local clubs here in Princeton have taken the power of social media very seriously and hired professional web page builders to help them enter the new decade with gusto.  There are all kinds of Facebook pages as well as websites, Twitter pages and blogs.  Among the many is a Facebook page called Princeton and Area issues.  This page was started up by long time local, Spencer Coyne, who is an employee at the Princeton Arena and a weekly columnist in the Similkameen Spotlight.

We have 156 members in our group,” stated Coyne.  “I hear from many of them on a regular basis through email and other forms of communication.  We have had two meetings now and are in the planning stages of another one where we will meet with candidates for a Q&A. I am also working on a way to get our meetings on a live feed so even if you cannot make it to the meeting in person, but have an internet connection, then you can still participate in the discussion as it is happening.  This is something new for Princeton.  It would be similar to a teleconference, but on the Internet.  The group is in its early days, but there is a lot of positive energy around it and we are optimistic about what we can achieve. We also plan on working with other community groups in the future.”

Coyne’s Facebook page has received a lot of coffee break talk time and was even mentioned at last week’s town council meeting.  “It is nice to see a group with the initiative to take on the some of the issues our community struggles with,” said Councillor Marilyn Harkness.

Mayor Randy McLean concurred.  “When the public becomes engaged in community debate, it is a good feeling for us.  It shows council that others care about what is going on here and want to see our community continue to grow and remain vibrant.”

Coyne stated that he started his group as a result of another page which became wrought with controversy.  “I started the Princeton & Area Issues Facebook group because after the referendum people started to use the Princeton Pool facebook page as a way to vent their frustrations about a number of local issues. Seeing as there was such poor voter turn out in town, I decided to take all this pent up emotion and give it an outlet.”

The Facebook page has had a lot of conversation on it.  “The group has started to address a number of issues,” stated Coyne.  “The two biggest ones are the ER room closures which we have asked, through Lori Thomas a member of the Dr. Recruitment Committee, if that group or Interior Health would hold a public information session to inform the public as to what is happening with our hospital and medical staff.  The second big issue the group has identified as a priority is a school lunch program.  Right now, we are waiting to see what the actual numbers are as to how many kids need a lunch program. Once this is identified, we will move forward.  We want to be as informed as we can before we make any snap decisions. There are a few other issues that keep coming up including bylaw enforcement and the growing deer population.  These issues are under review and are in a fact finding stage right now.”

Princeton Rotary, Vermilion Trails Society, Princeton Community Arts Council, Princeton Museum, Princeton Minor Hockey Association, Princeton and Area Online Garage Sale and Dinner on the Bridge of Dreams all have a page on Facebook…and there are more.  Princeton and Area Online Garage Sale is a page that has kind of taken off.  Presently, it has 142 members and has become an active hub for people looking to buy and sell their “treasures.”  Administrator Renata Mednanska

started the site to unload some of her own treasures.  “It’s all about the three “R’s” reduce, reuse and recycle,” stated Mednanska.  “On my page, you post a picture of what you are selling and everybody has a chance to see what the item is up front.  It’s good for everybody.  Some of the stuff has sold really fast and it keeps stuff out of our landfill.  I think it’s a win for everybody…and what’s that saying Mednanska asked with a laugh…”One person’s junk is another person’s treasure?  This page helps us find a new home for some of our treasures.”

Copperhill Lanes, the Brown Bridge Pub and Thomasina’s Shoppe are just three of the local businesses who are using Facebook to help their business grow.  Dan Woycheshen proprietor of Copperhill Lanes uses his site to post upcoming events, business hours, photos of some of their customers and information on tournaments.  “Facebook has had an impact on our business,” stated Woycheshen.  “Facebook reaches a lot people who don’t necessary read the newspapers.  The Pool for Princeton page was a great example of that.  It reached about 400 people.”  Thomasina’s Shoppe uses their site to advertise their daily specials as does ‘Round the Corner Cafe.  Brown Bridge Pub uses their to post upcoming talent and events.

There are some groups who do not use Facebook, but rather they prefer to use a website, some do both.  China Ridge Trails Association has an extensive site.  They showcase their playground with maps and photos as well as, articles and an events page.  Many local sites are linked to the the Town of Princeton website

A fan of the computer and all it has to offer or not, advertising and the way the public does business is changing.  Somewhere along the information highway for Princeton is an opportunity to find out what is going on good or bad and an opportunity to voice an opinion.  Social media can be a valuable tool for non-profit organizations, businesses and individuals.  It’s all there waiting to be explored.