Over on the Brookfield Connections community page on Facebook, a resident posted a complaint about how difficult the village makes it to open a restaurant in town. It wasn’t that the complaint was unusual – residents head to Facebook to let off steam about all aspects of life in the village.
What was unusual was one of the first comments on the post, which came from “Villmangr Keith.” That’s right, Village Manager Keith Sbiral last week created a new Facebook account as a part of a pilot social media strategy developed with the help of a marketing consultant in the past year.
“I had been putting the plan on hold because there’s a lot of positive and negative about social media,” Sbiral said. “How do we roll this out with the limited staff we have and do what you should to have a social media presence?”
Over time, however, more and more issues cropped up on social media that Sbiral felt a quick comment could resolve.
Sbiral’s comment encouraged anyone who wanted to open a restaurant in Brookfield to contact the Community and Economic Development Department, including direct phone numbers at village hall for himself at the department’s director, Nick Greifer.
He also named a handful of restaurants that have opened in the past couple of years, mentioning that another, the Brookfield Ale House is in the works on Grand Boulevard.
The comment had the effect of redirecting the thread to a more familiar theme — businesses that people wish would come to the village.
“We hear a lot of things out there that can probably be cleared up with direct information quickly,” Sbiral said. “It was time to deal with these issues up front.”
Sbiral said he won’t be posting status updates on his Facebook page or commenting on other people’s posts in order to engage in an argument; it’s to try and quickly provide answers and direct people who have questions or complaints or observations about the way the village delivers services or programs to people who actually have answers to their questions.
While Brookfield Trustee Michael Garvey is a familiar presence on Facebook community pages, engaging in conversations, and sometimes arguments, with people he feels are being unfair, Sbiral said he wants to play it very straight on social media.
“My role is to get information out from an apolitical staff viewpoint,” Sbiral said.
Sbiral’s new Facebook page includes his email address, but he said people should also email email@example.com if they have a more immediate issue. Messages to that email address are handled by various village hall staffers, who often are able to provide answers quickly, including on the weekends, Sbiral said.
“Staff here are very willing to help and answer your call,” Sbiral said.