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Councillor suggests Wellington County gets on Instagram

Councillor Diane Ballantyne put forward the concept of a Wellington County Instagram account at a committee meeting Tuesday
Councillor Diane Ballantyne at the economic development committee meeting on Tuesday.

WELLINGTON COUNTY — A Wellington County Instagram account would raise awareness about local events and help the county reach a younger audience, council heard Tuesday.

During the county’s economic development committee meeting on Tuesday, Jana Burns, the Wellington Place Administrator, showed the webpage, Experience Wellington, which lists winter activities and events in the county.

That got councillor Diane Ballantyne talking about having a county Instagram account to talk about events.

Ballantyne had a favourable opinion on the Experience Wellington webpage.

“It’s really nice to have a holiday website, with a series of links,” Ballantyne said.

Then Ballantyne suggested that the county set up its own Instagram account.

“But it would be, I think, worthwhile for staff to look at creating a Wellington County Instagram account. So that we could have, having, it’s the county’s.”

The county could then control what it posts on the account.

“And then what we can do is we can use, through communications or whatever channels we want to use to make sure that what is going out there is appropriate.”

As Experience Wellington shows winter events in the county, so could an Instagram account.

“We can advertise those various different events that are happening.”

Ballantyne alleges that the younger generations are turning to social media for information.

“You know, people younger than me aren’t looking for websites for information. They’re going to Instagram. And Instagram is a visual medium.”

If an event has an exciting atmosphere, that could be shown on the account.

“So I think it’s something that we could also build excitement because it will be earned media or authentic media, when people are at that amazing Christmas market. It’s packed, cars are all the way down the road.”

When people make Instagram posts about how much fun they’re having at county related events, the county could then re-post that onto its own Instagram account.

“You know people can post about what they are doing, living their exciting lives. And we’d have the opportunity to re-post that to show that there are people from away as well as within the county experiencing all of the amazing things that happen within the county.”

Although the committee chair, councillor Jeff Duncan, is interested in the idea of a county Instagram account, he remains cautious, wanting to do this right.

"Okay, I'd say, duly noted. It would be a little bit broader discussion with the communications and how the county as a whole would want to handle that. But I do agree with you,especially for the tourism portfolio or the event portfolio, that Instagram would be a positive tool for us to be able to use. It's a question of how do we want to implement that and what staff resources do we have to do it," said Duncan.

County CAO Scott Wilson had some concerns.

"We don't need a motion to pursue this. You know, I've heard the councillor's comments, I think a couple of times now on Instagram. And it's an internal question we have to deal with. And I have concerns about liability. I have concerns about content. And I have concerns about the county's reputation, if the content doesn't reflect the county," said Wilson.

County staff  will explore the possibility further.

Jesse Gault is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.