Ottawa County helps Facebook test alerts

Ottawa County

OLIVE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A new Facebook alert system is helping Ottawa County get out important messages.

The social media giant told 24 Hour News 8 that the lakeshore county is among 300 local government and emergency responder pages nationwide testing out the new local alerts.

It used to be that posts to Ottawa County’s page went to only about half of its followers’ newsfeeds, so county Communications Manager Shannon Felgner was excited when Facebook chose the page to test the new feature. Now, when she marks a post as a local alert, every single one of the page’s followers gets a notification.

“It’s been really effective for those emergency, must-see messages,” Felgner said.

She said officials have used the alerts judiciously, sending fewer than 10 since the test started in August. They have been for things like beach hazards, poor road conditions, severe weather and building closures, including a power outage-related closure of the Fillmore Street Complex on Monday.

“Those messages have worked. We were able to have messages shared hundreds of times and viewed by tens of thousands of people,” Felgner said.

She said local alerts boost a post’s reach by an average of 80 percent.

If you want to receive the alerts, all you need to do is follow Ottawa County’s Facebook page.

Ottawa County applied to be a test page. Facebook chose a range of small and big towns and picked pages that already post content routinely.

Facebook is still in the testing phase for the program, so it’s not expected to be rolled out to all governments anytime soon.

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