Augusta Township social media and customer service policy clarified for Council and residents
Augusta Matters by Mayor Doug Malanka
(As published in the South Grenville Journal – Thursday, August 13, 2020)
At the Augusta Council meeting held on Monday, July 27, 2020, Council received a report from our Deputy Clerk/Office Administrator, Vikki Werner‑Mackeler entitled, Social Media and Customer Service. According to Ms. Werner‑Mackeler, By‑Law 3111‑2014 (Establish a Social Media Usage Policy) authorizes social media use by the Township to enhance and increase public knowledge and engagement. Augusta uses Facebook for posts that remind residents of up‑coming Council and Committee meetings; posts notifying them of road work and other public works projects, posts on local charity fundraisers and opportunities for local businesses and posts which educate residents on new initiatives in the Township, available services, building permit information, canine control reminders and other procedures/By-Laws. Space is also allotted for posts that engage the public (contests, questions, introductions to new staff etc.).
Augusta Township’s Facebook page permits residents to “private message” comments or questions which only staff administrators can see. However, staff is not required to monitor these during off hours and will only respond to a simple comment or question. Residents must also know that these private messages do not get logged in the Resident Relations program where a permanent record online of the interaction and resolution is maintained. By‑Law 3111‑2014 also specifies that negative non‑constructive comments are not to be responded to (and may be restricted and/or edited by the Township). For these reasons, anyone posting a private message receives an automatic response directing them to the Township Office at 613‑925‑4231 or to http://www.augusta.dca/departments/contact-us which is monitored on a regular basis. If something requires a more in-depth explanation, people are asked to call the Township office to speak to the person best suited to help them. These requests are logged in the Resident Relations program for follow up.
One of our biggest challenges concerning Facebook has been that some residents do not understand that ‘Augusta Township’ is the official Facebook page. Other pages on Facebook have been created by residents for Augusta residents to socialize on. Occasionally, residents have posted messages/comments/complaints on these sites worded in such a way that made Township staff believe that they thought they were contacting the Township directly. Staff are not authorized to respond to these and, if they do, they are doing so under their own personal name. The bottom line here is that residents are encouraged to monitor the Township’s Facebook page for important information about the Township but to direct their concerns, questions and comments to the Township Office at 613‑925‑4231 or to http://www.augusta.dca/departments/contact-us which is monitored by Staff on a regular basis.