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Community Management and being "Mr. PG"

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

Filed under: Prince George, social media

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3 Comments

So, my thoughts on this are very mixed, I totally agree the topics posted should be on topic, moreover I appreciate and respect your point of view and also really like that Mr. PG doesn’t post all the time — I do think one thing you may be missing is what a page is supposed to be. As outlined by facebook: 
Pages allow real organizations, businesses, celebrities and brands to communicate broadly with people who like them. Pages may only be created and managed by official representatives. So because the Mr. PG is a public figure page on Facebook, the assumption that is is being run by official representatives of Mr. PG is not a fault of the people on the page, it is an assumption based on “the rules” of facebook.  Where comments on how other pages are setup and managed could be argued at this point, where I think the separation is missing is that you officially represent the facebook Mr. PG fan club, that however is not clearly expressed on the page as the intent.  Now, I don’t think every celebrity runs their own page on facebook, but I do think the intent is that every page should be run by “official representatives” ie: management groups (the same people responsible for the words celebrities say in interviews, for example).

So, I don’t want to see the way Mr. PG is managed changed, and I don’t even like that the facebook rules would seem to show that you need to change anything … however, it does appear that you aren’t following the guidelines, so clearly stating that it is a fan page may be a requirement for you to be in line …. 

… ultimately right now if tourism PG, or whoever else is responsible for PR for Mr. PG said they wanted to run a page (presumably so they could sell more Mr. PG pins), your page would be the one that they would be able to claim ownership of.  With some changes that clearly outline you are a fan page however, I think you would be save to continue to manage the fan based page as long as you desire.

Posted by Tyler James Neilson on 14 September 2011 @ 3pm

I have been thinking about precisely the same thing. I’ve thought about changing the name of the page to “Mr. PG fanpage” but that just doesn’t seem the same as being a fan of Mr. PG. If anyone from the city were to ever reach out to me on this subject, I’d be happy to work with them, but I would strongly advise against them using “Mr. PG” to do the same job tourism PG does or anything like that– especially since the relationship with the fans has been built up in a specific way and context. I do think I need to add a more prominent disclaimer, though.

Posted by Andrew on 14 September 2011 @ 4pm

I also don’t want to see the name change, as I would like to continue my like of Mr. PG….. but some form of disclaimer, somewhere, might help — I don’t think people spend enough time looking for those sorts of things and understanding where they are posting (in general), so in the end I’m not sure it would make a huge difference in how people act, but it would make sure you fit within the rules, which could give you a few more places to point people when this issue comes up next.

Posted by Tyler James Neilson on 14 September 2011 @ 4pm

No more than once a week, promise.


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