Follow the rule
|By Matthew Desrosiers - Editor | February 20, 2014
It’s the county’s slogan about which most, if not all, Highlanders have an opinion. Whether you like it or hate it – or even understand what the hashtag is doing there – you have to respect the county for trying something new to draw visitors to the Highlands.
That’s the point of the county’s promotional campaign – to draw in new people who will spend time and money here. It’s not about you, or me, using Twitter to talk to one another. It’s about using social media as a whole – including Twitter – to reach out and find those dollars.
Does it matter that half the people who live in the county don’t use, or know how to use, Twitter? Not at all. What matters is that the city folks, the ones with money who want to get away from the stress of urban life and take a vacation, are on their smart phones all day long reading comments on Facebook and Twitter. Their phones ping at them, urging them to read about what’s happening in the so-called Twitterverse.
Consider our hashtag as our own little billboard in that universe. Every time a message is sent with our slogan, #Myhaliburtonhighlands, it lands on that billboard where it – and the rest of our promotional messages – cross-connect and are delivered, en masse, to the masses.
It’s a trap. As Twitterites are directed from one message to the next and read about the Highlands, they will learn about Haliburton County and decide to come visit. At least that’s the idea.
The county believes so much in this plan that they’ve decided to have the slogan pull double-duty as our logo, too.
Roots is putting the logo on clothes and it will be used on other swag and promotional materials as well.
And even if, in a few years, the hashtag is no more and people have moved on from Twitter to the next big thing, it won’t matter. This is a short-term plan. County staff know trends are always changing – remember the great migration of MySpace users to Facebook – and are prepared for the minor inconvenience of removing the hashtag from the logo.
It’s outrageous, then, that on Feb. 19 the county learned the Ministry of Transportation wouldn’t allow the county to put a hashtag on their road signs.
We face enough challenges around here without the government stamping on our plans to fully exploit social media to our benefit. It’s one thing not to allow full websites on a road sign, but a hashtag is nothing more than a single character.
One character wouldn’t be a big deal, except the entire concept of our slogan hinges on the social media aspect of the campaign and that means we need the hashtag.
Although council seemed to accept the Ministry’s demand to change the slogan on a boundary sign, this really is a fight worth having. Someone needs to tell the government to back off and let us run our county without their silly rules getting in the way.
We’re trying to do something new and exciting to make a better Haliburton Highlands for ourselves, but as usual, our taskmasters insist on rules over results.
MATTHEW DESROSIERS is the editor of The Highlander and tries to find room in his house amongst the animals that have taken over his abode in Tory Hill. He thinks The Highlander’s office manager Ashley is pretty sweet, but loves all of the staff as long as they work as hard as he does. Matthew has an impressive, and kind of creepy, obsession with Star Wars. You might catch him volunteering with the HE Fire Department or covering local sports.