Facebook still relevant communication tool for Missoula organizations


MISSOULA, Mont. - The social media website Facebook was created 10 years ago.

There's no doubt Facebook has changed the way individuals and organizations interact. It's a tool that friends and family, business owners and government agencies alike use to connect.

While there's no telling whether Facebook will be here another 10 years, it's still an important tool.

Tuesday, a bitter cold day in the middle of winter in Missoula, ice cream probably isn't on anyone's mind. But that isn't stopping Big Dipper Ice Cream General Manger Bryan Hickey from connecting with customers.

From the office in the back of the ice cream shop, Hickey can quickly reach out to the more than 12,000 fans that ‘like' the Big Dipper Facebook page. It's a tool that's changed the business.

"We get phone calls every day, ‘Hey, what are your special flavors today?' and by one post we don't have to answer those phone calls anymore," Hickey said. "They know they can go there for the most part and see that, and know what's happening."

But it hasn't always been that way. Their journey to their 12,000-plus fans started out small.

"A kid over at Hellgate High School created the page…2008 or so and put it out there and we saw it. And we're like 'That's a good idea, we should probably get on that,'" Hickey said. "So we asked him if we could be an admin. Eventually he moved away from it and we kind of took it over."

Now it's a tool they use almost daily.

That's a goal for the Missoula Police Department in 2014. It doesn't have a Facebook page.

"It's another effort that we are making to try and kind of catch up," said the Missoula Police Department's Public Information Officer Travis Welsh.

Welsh hopes to catch up quickly and use the page to reach out to the community.

"One of those things that we're thinking about is how to get information out quickly and accurately and hopefully generate some positive discussions with the public."

So what about 10 more years down the road, on Facebook's 20th birthday?

"Maybe there's something new that's going to come along and take its place," Welsh said. "But for right now it seems to be one of the most commonly used venues."

"We had a MySpace page at one point, and we got rid of that because no one was using it," said Hickey. "You kind of have to be on your heels and make sure you're using the social media that's still relevant to that day."