Who’s holding our local history?
by Lynette Sowell
My front porch
My colleagues have written about the snow (glorious snow!) which we received on Sunday and enjoyed through Monday, and it did thrill my “Yankee” New England roots for a few moments. But then I then realized this is an ordinary northern winter event which, taking place in our region of Texas, makes it a certainly extraordinary event.
So, I have not much to say that I can add to their words, other than I marveled and basked with the rest of you. However, I recalled while cleaning off my car on Sunday evening, how much I do NOT miss cleaning off a snow-covered vehicle just to go out.
That said, I’m going to shift gears and talk about an alarming trend that I hope our local clubs, civic organizations, and even churches will help head off at the pass. It’s giving the reins of our history to social media.
While the best bit of marketing advice I’ve ever heard is find your customers and stand in front of them, we equate social media with where our audience is.
That is partly true. But, there’s a big “however” that I hope that our local clubs, civic organizations, churches, and businesses will pay attention to.
By isolating our sharing of club, civic organization, church, and business events to social media, we are doing two things that are dangerous and potentially harmful to our community’s history – our present, which will soon be history as the days, months and years pass.
One, these groups are limiting their audience.
Two, and this is something we do not think of often, we are giving up our history to be stored on the servers of a company that is not local and that history will swiftly be forgotten.
At my offices, we have volumes and volumes of our city’s history. They consist of printed volumes and digital files stored on our cloud and backup. Right now, we have a college student home on break who is purging much of our old printed works, which will soon be bound into annual editions and also completely digitized (everything for the past 12 years or so is both digital AND print.) We don’t fight digital in our offices. We embrace it.
So, my first point, how does a group limit its audience by posting on social media?
Quite frankly, while “millions” are on social media, not everyone will see a group’s newsy post. I follow most of the civic clubs in this town, and even I don’t “see” all their news. I liken social media to a neighborhood fence where people gather to share information. From time to time, many congregate at the “fence” to share news and information. Not all of it is accurate and some is outdated, but that’s for another day. We might catch a tidbit of news while we are “there” at the fence, but then we leave and go on our way. And then, someone shares something we should know – but we don’t see it.
This is how groups limit their audience. Why would you want your audience to be limited? Wouldn’t you want your exposure to be as complete as it can be?
Also, as we have seen in recent days, some are leaving one social media platform for others. I have also read – and heard – people mention that they did not “see” someone’s notice posted online.
Running to social media and posting should not be your go-to and sole means of distributing information to your members and the general public.
The second, and probably even more disturbing trend, is that we have groups, clubs, churches, and businesses, who are giving up their history to be stored on a faraway server of a company which is not local. The present is what it is, but as the days and weeks and months go on, our current days become history.
Many of our clubs, churches, and businesses have been around for decades. But, what has become of the history? Who is holding that information?
We are a locally owned company, whose staff and employees live, shop, and work locally. We sit in school board meetings and council meetings and committee meetings, because we have a vested interest in what goes on here and getting that information to the community via whatever means we can. A social media company does not have that vested interest.
It concerns me greatly to see local groups, churches, and businesses putting their vital information and accomplishments, this present that is becoming part of our community history, on servers and storage elsewhere, seen by few and remembered by fewer.
Who will look at our history in 20 to 30 years and be able to see what happened in our community?
I am not saying that we should abandon an avenue which has become part of our way to do business. But is it not the only way to do business and get word out about what we do. Email, phone call, snail-mail the information to us. But, do not take the easy way out and post pictures which will disappear from our community’s history.