From the Centre: Keeping up with technology important to leisure services

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Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.

Hopefully you are sticking around for the 75th annual Creston Valley Blossom Festival coming up, as there is a whole heap of stuff going on around the valley. To plan your staycation, one place to start is www.blossomfestival.ca and then click on “events” to see the entire listing, which will also be in the Creston Valley Advance. We have a number of events up here at the Creston and District Community Complex, as well, to keep you and your family entertained over the weekend. Following that, watch your mailbox for the summer leisure guide, which has even more great things to do than ever before. It will most likely be online at www.rdck.ca by the time you read this, in case you get the itch to see what’s happening sooner.

Speaking of all things online, I recently attended a discussion on social media and how other small towns and areas are using applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and various other methods of communication with their patrons. In listening to the various B.C. towns and regional districts attending, it covered the entire scale of usage, from little to none, all the way to one town that had a yearly advertising budget of about $500, which we all know doesn’t go far nowadays. Facebook was the primary connector for most leisure services providers, and if you are at all familiar with it, you probably know it can be a boon yet also the bane of your existence, requiring a considerable amount of attention to what is being posted, making responses and the staff time it takes to do all this, as well as coverage in case that person moves on or dares to take a vacation.

It was interesting in how social media was described as an extension of the real world, although in some cases I would describe it as a crueler or perhaps a more primal extension, if you have ever seen some of the feeding frenzies that can happen over the simplest comments, yet would never happen if you were standing in front of that person or persons. As a business, you can put controls in place to curb that darker side and establish etiquette as to how subscribers are to behave, but having solid policies and procedures on a medium that is constantly evolving is extremely challenging, especially if you don’t have the resources to invest on a steady basis. I did agree with one speaker who said, “If we serve youth, we need to be fluent in their language,” meaning the various forms they use to communicate whether it is Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, texting or whatever. He also described us (leisure service providers), probably accurately, as, “We aren’t cool. We are slow, cumbersome and looking for headcounts. We should stop trying to be cool and focus on being legitimate and trustworthy, as well as build connections and relationships.”

The changes in technology and communication are fast and furious; there are instances where how many followers you have on social media influences getting hired or where employers check your profile to see what they could be getting. Some even include your profiles or posts as part of ongoing evaluation, and when you eventually shuffle off this mortal coil there can be issues with ownership or access to your electronic self, which has resulted in a need for digital undertakers. As far as marketing, even now there are services that you can pay to boost or promote your posts to a very targeted or widespread audience. You can also pay to have your post cross-promoted by people with huge amounts of followers — for a fee, of course. Ultimately, it’s what we are trying to accomplish, such as include building connections, marketing, recruiting, celebrating and, perhaps, advocacy rather than how we build it, but it does take time and energy to get there.

Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.

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