Facebook expanding alerts tested in Ottawa Co.

Ottawa County
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The Ottawa County Facebook page is displayed on a smartphone. (March 2019)

OLIVE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Facebook is fully rolling out an alert system for local governments that Ottawa County helped test out.

Facebook announced earlier this week that it would make local alerts available to any qualifying U.S. agency by the end of the year. Government pages can mark posts as alerts to send notifications to people who live in the area.

Ottawa County was among the about 350 local government and emergency responder pages nationwide that helped Facebook test out the function.

The county says it did see success the several times it used the alerts.

In late January, the county sent alerts about brutal winter weather. Spokeswoman Shannon Felgner told News 8 in an email that as a result, impressions (the number of times posts are viewed) more than doubled from the monthly average of around 230,000 to more than 544,000. Engagements increased from about 13,000 for the month to about 30,000.

Earlier this year, Felgner said that the local alerts boost a post’s reach by about 80%.

Felgner said the during the test period, the county suggested Facebook offer the alert option on the app; it was only available on the desktop website.

“It would be great to have this capability, since oftentimes, emergency situations necessitating alerts pull us out of the office,” Felgner wrote to News 8 Wednesday.

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