Post Oak County Historical Commission is a fictional organization in a fictional county. Texas Historical Commission (THC) staff created Post Oak County as a teaching tool and reference for Texas County Historical Commissions (CHC). We present this fictional information in a variety of ways to provide general guidance to CHCs. Our hope is that the examples, which highlight common challenges, will help Texans develop stronger CHCs.
Evaluating Social Media Responses
We recently asked Post Oak County residents how they would like to celebrate Texas Independence Day. We posed this question to the public using social media and email. Over the course of a week, we only received 2 emails, 5 Facebook comments, and 0 mentions on Twitter. We felt discouraged by the lack of response, so our committee held a special meeting to discuss ways we could encourage the public to share their ideas. We took action after the meeting by doing the following.
Adjusting our Approach
We put a time limit on the request. We reminded the public about our call for ideas in a follow up post on our Facebook page. In the follow up post, we asked the public to respond by December 6th. We suddenly had a flood of responses through email and Facebook when the public realized that there was a deadline to voice their opinion.
We joined the conversation. When people posted a comment on Facebook, we encouraged them by writing, “great idea” or “thank you for your response”. Similar replies were sent out to people who emailed us ideas. We also started posting our own ideas on Facebook through our personal Facebook accounts, and we asked other CHC appointees to do the same. Our goal was to have at least one comment a day. We found that by keeping the conversation current (i.e. generating a steady stream of posts), more people responded.
We targeted our approach. Since we were not getting any responses on Twitter, we decided to fully dedicate ourselves to Facebook and email. This allowed more time to engage with what people were posting on Facebook. We hope to try posting on Twitter again in the future with the help of a student intern. Since our appointees are not Twitter users, we thought a more experienced user could help our next Twitter effort. In the meantime, we directed any future Twitter traffic to our Facebook page.
Reviewing the Responses
We received 22 Facebook comments and 12 emails by our deadline. Our Facebook page is less than a year old, so we were very pleased with the results. The next task was to incorporate the public’s interests in our event. To give you an idea of the diverse range of comments from the community, we’ve listed three responses that we received below.
- I’d like to eat dinner and hear live music in honor of Texas Independence Day.
- I have two school-age children, so I’d like to see the schools get involved and teach my kids about the importance of Texas Independence Day.
- I’m still new to the state, so I’d like to learn more about Texas history!
To make the long list of responses more manageable, we sorted the comments by themes. Next, we ranked the themes based on how often they were mentioned. The most popular themes are listed below.
- Youth Education
- Adult Education
- Local Music
- Local Food
We will use these themes to identify community partners, and at our next committee meeting, we will determine ways in which these partners can participate in our Texas Independence Day celebration.
Again, one of our goals is to attract a larger audience by using social media and working with community partners to publicize this event.