Posted on 13 September 2011
I’ve written before about the Mr. PG fanpage. For a quick recap, Mr. PG is Prince George’s roadside mascot, a tall, faux-wood lumberjack character that has been a symbol of the city since 1960. Some years ago, I made a Facebook fan page for the guy, and it’s become pretty popular. As far as I can tell, it’s the most popular page in Prince George by a substantial margin.
Because of the size of the audience, a new trend has popped up with people posting general questions, comments, and promotions related to the Prince George area on the page. Stuff like concerts, fundraisers, and awareness campaigns. All things I generally like. But I’ve been deleting them. Back in June I wrote:
“Quick admin note: please do not use this page to promote unrelated events or businesses. Repeat offenders will be banned.”
This got six likes, and one happy comment. Time went on, and I deleted a few things. Then, someone started reposting the things I deleted. So I wrote:
“Unfortunately, clarification on this point is needed. Posts unrelated to Mr. PG will be taken down. That is not a judgement on whatever is being posted. It is simply a matter of volume. This page is one of the most popular Facebook pages in northern B.C. It is simply too easy for it to be overrun by people posting links to any number of worthy or unworthy causes, events, etc. There are plenty of other forums to share general news about Prince George. This is not one.”
And this caused some controversy. People wondered why they shouldn’t be allowed to post stuff about Prince George on the page. Why did the page exist if not a forum for just that?
I attempted to answer there, and I’m writing it out here, too, so I can have easy access whenever it comes up again.
Why you can’t post things unrelated to Mr. PG
With the Mr. PG page, I’m not trying to make money, I’m not trying to grow a brand, I’m just providing a way for people to say they like Mr. PG in the language of our times, the internet and, more specifically, Facebook.
That being the case, I don’t want the page to have people regret their decision to “like.” I don’t post status updates every day, because that would pollute thousands of stranger’s news feeds. I post when something related to Mr. PG comes about– he changes costume, a news article is written about him, or he is incorporated into a mural or museum exhibit. I’m happy for others to do the same, as well as share their thoughts on him– good and bad. It’s a fun forum to look at as people swap stories, questions, and photos.
If I were to open up posting on unrelated events, it could quickly get out of hand. You’d have to wade through a pile of concert listings, business promos and fundraising drives to get to what you wanted. It would be a general message board. At the moment, it’s only a few posts here and there, so maybe wouldn’t be that problematic. But even now it dilutes what is there, and sets a bad precedent. The quickest way to make people ignore the page is to have it present irrelevant information (and I do realize I’m griping about irrelevant information in a blog post about a Facebook page for a kitschy roadside attraction). The reason I’ve decided on a blanket policy is it’s a heck of a lot easier than having to decide turn-by-turn which unrelated post is maybe good enough to stay and which is just spammy.
Being “Mr. PG”
Also out of this discussion came people addressing “Mr. PG” directly and asking him (me) why he/I was being such a killjoy. One person even posted helpful tips on how I could grow my business by speaking in the friendly voice she imagines Mr. PG would have.
Something else I’ve tried to do, and perhaps not consistently enough, is to NOT give Mr. PG a voice. This page is not my interpretive art project. What I think Mr. PG would sound like and what you think he would sound like are completely different. I would hate it if someone else had made the Mr. PG fan page and was using that to post “lol whut?” status updates on a regular basis. So while I post news, I try to do it in a way that sounds like an administrator, not “Mr. PG.” Sometimes it can be fun to reply with a “sure” when someone asks Mr. PG if he’ll be their friend, but beyond that I don’t want to mess it up.
I’ll admit, this is a pretty silly subject to write about. And I don’t give it more weight than it has. This is a side project that takes a few minutes every month and is pretty much always fun. But there is a method to it, or at least an attempted one. I’m fascinated by community management, and this is the biggest community I’ve had to manage, even if it is just by luck. And what I just wrote is what I do to try to do justice to the online home of everyone’s favourite civic mascot.
EDIT: In the comments, Tyler Neilson brings up a good and ery fair point about Facebook pages having the implication of being run “officially” and the fact that I haven’t effectively placed a disclaimer on the site. That is something I am looking at how to best address (unfortunately, I’m not seeing a great way to incorporate the disclaimer so it’s noticeable without being overwhelming and ugly).
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