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“I have been involved with the community, residents and businesses quite a lot,” she says. “I work quite closely with the council too.” Smith says it is the first time social media has been successfully used by Downer to keep people up to date on a major project. Not only has her project become a blueprint for Downer to develop a wider social media strategy, the Facebook page was singled out for a ‘Best Use of Social Media in Local Government’ award in 2013. “The key to the success of this Facebook page is that I am on it all the time,” Smith says. “It is a very active site and I am 100 per cent committed to it.” Smith says that her aim was to make the Facebook page a relaxed place that was community-friendly, and to bring a ‘humanised touch’ to it, so people didn’t feel nervous about getting on there and putting a complaint up. Encouraging people to visit the Facebook page at its launch was done via email. Early in the project’s planning stage, people wanting to be kept up to date had been able to volunteer their email address. Smith used those addresses to let them know of the Facebook page. She also linked the page to popular Facebook sites run by businesses and Hamilton Council. The page was also picked up and promoted by Hamilton radio station Classic Hits, with breakfast DJ Mark Bunting being a big fan. “Mark has been promoting it on air and we’d bounce back funny comments on the page,” says Smith. “We even got him to MC an open day we had for a completed section of the project – we had more than 1,000 people turn up.” Smith says that due to the success of the Hamilton Ring Road Facebook page, other projects are now adopting the idea, among them the Waikato Expressway. “The Facebook page is my baby, so I am looking forward to seeing this project through until its end in a few years’ time,” says Smith. w w w . f a c e b o o k . c o m / H a m i l t o n R i n g R o a d 34 / DOWNER / IN BLACK & WHITE


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