Concord – November 21, 2008 – The State of New Hampshire has a Facebook page that wasn’t created by the State of New Hampshire. More than 5,600 people have subscribed as fans to the online social-networking page. They have used it to opine on the ongoing relevance of the motto “Live Free or Die” and to trade stories about where they were when the Old Man of the Mountain fell.
One debate about the best community in the state had generated 93 entries by yesterday afternoon, with Portsmouth leading but places as small as Gilmanton and Holderness garnering defenders.
Although the site links to the state’s official tourism website – visitnh.gov – it’s not clear who made the page. Officials at the state’s Division of Travel and Tourism said the page isn’t their handiwork, although they may eventually get into the Facebooking business.
Tourism folks say they’ve started using other networking technologies. The state’s public relations firm has created a Twitter account, keeping subscribers instantly updated on the state of foliage or ski conditions. A typical Twitter entry, said Tai Freligh, a spokesman for the division, would be something like: “Today, if you want to see some good foliage go on Route 3 or Route 16.”
The Twitter account has more than 100 subscribers, said E.J. Powers of Montagne Communications, who runs the account. Subscribers, said Freligh, include national news outlets like the Travel Channel and USA Today, along with local residents. But neither man had any idea who was behind the Facebook page, whose author isn’t listed. The page itself, however, appears built for a wide constituency. New Hampshire on Facebook commits itself as a fan of three holidays: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas.
The rapid growth of Facebook from a dorm room project in 2004 to one of the most used and popular websites in the world means the convergence of freewheeling college culture, marked by an ironic tone and user-generated spontaneity, with corporate and government officialdom. While a few years ago, all Facebook pages were owned and built by college students, these days many businesses have joined the act.
The state’s tourism branch might eventually get in the Facebook page, Freligh and Powers said.
“We haven’t activated a live Facebook page,” Powers said. “Eventually we could perhaps do a Facebook page, but we want to make sure it makes sense for the end user.”