When Life Gives You Lemons, Use Facebook Live
Webster Village Office talks about using Facebook Live to engage with residents
Submitted By Anna Hubbel
Webster, N.Y. — COVID-19 threw everyone for a loop - most notably in Webster, local government agencies. “How do we communicate with residents?” “How do we conduct public meetings so that residents still feel involved and informed, even though they can’t be there in person?”
Both the Town and Village of Webster have used live streaming, allowing residents to tune in and watch meetings from home, to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions and safety precautions.
However, for the Village of Webster, which streams its meetings via Facebook Live, this wasn’t too much of an abrupt change in the status quo. In addition to allowing residents to attend meetings in person, the Village was using Facebook Live before COVID-19 came to America.
Previously, the Village hired an outside source to handle the camera equipment and stream the meetings. Now, the village clerk is in charge of managing the Facebook Live streaming and responding to residents’ Facebook comments as they come in.
“It has definitely been a learning curve,” shared Village Clerk Heather Halstead. “We are still trying to figure out how to best interact with residents.”
Halstead says residents have been sending in more comments recently.
“We are looking into allowing a comment section at the end of the meeting as well as at the beginning to respond to Facebook comments,” said Halstead.
One technological challenge has been audio, according to Halstead. The Village recently acquired new microphones, so that Village Board members and all Village staff attendees can be heard more clearly. However, the wiring still needs to be updated for better sound quality.
“It’s just a process,” said Halstead.
Residents appear to be responding well to the “new normal” as far as Village meetings are concerned, according to Halstead.
“Overall people have been positive with the way we are conducting meetings,” said Halstead. “I have had to talk a few people through it, but I am more than happy to do that.”
Residents can watch the Facebook Live streaming of Webster Village Board Meetings on the Village of Webster NY Facebook Page. Regular Village Board Meetings take place at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of the month.