Menino Needs to Update His Facebook Status
Mayor Menino, this is your moment. After touting your Innovation District for more than a year, you got the push you needed — twice — from Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in recent days. Two weeks ago, Zuckerberg noted that he took Facebook west because Boston’s VC community wouldn’t give him the funding he needed. But despite that, he said, Facebook could have thrived in Boston because our city has the focus and staying power that get-rich-quick obsessed Silicon Valley lacks. And yesterday, while recruiting at Harvard and MIT, Zuckerberg dropped the news that he’d be expanding offices — and is thinking of perhaps opening one in Boston someday.
Nevermind the fact that Zuckerberg was only seven years old when Menino first took office. If he were smart, Menino would pounce on the billionaire while he’s still in the Hub, and convince him that the Innovation District would be a fitting home (or homecoming, if you will) for an expansion of the Facebook offices. But here’s the thing: For that argument to actually work, Mayor Menino’s team has to do a much better job of communicating on the very platform that Zuckerberg created. A quick glimpse at Mayor Menino’s official Facebook page finds a paltry 3,700 followers (Boston’s population, for the record, is over 600,000), while the official City of Boston page eeks out a mere 5,600 fans, and will often go days without an update. Compare that to New York City’s Michael Bloomberg, who has ten times the mayoral fans with over 37,000 followers. Even Rahm Emanuel, who’s only been Chicago’s mayor since February, (and isn’t known for his pleasant demeanor), has accrued 66,000 people who like him for who he is. What’s more, the Menino’s official page has been updated only four times — four — since inauguration day last January.
I understand that the city runs multiple Facebook pages, for entities like parks and the Hubway. And it’s a given that both Chicago and New York are larger cities, so they’d naturally have a larger fanbase to begin with. But if you’re touting yourself as a city where technology can take off, perhaps it’s a good idea to walk the walk, and actually make some noise among the 800 million people gathering online with Facebook.
What’s frustrating about this is that the Mayor’s office has been incredibly progressive about getting important city information out to the public. We have dozens of apps helping us navigate the T in real time, thanks to decision to provide open source transit schedules. The phenomenal new site, Boston About Results, allows citizens to cull through performance data of a slew of city services.
But you have to also go where the people are. I don’t need to know that Menino saw Midnight in Paris and loved it, or ate a turkey sandwich for lunch. But if he had a meeting with Zuckerberg to discuss at potential move to Boston, I’d at least like to think that he could hold his own talking about the Timeline. You’d think that after 20 years in office, Menino would like to take advantage of having quite a bit to look back on.