"The city of La Vergne is combining two modern technologies in an unexpected way to bring news and information to residents," La Vergne's Public Relations Director Kathy Tyson said in a press release.
The electronic billboard on Murfreesboro Road is displaying city announcements using the RSS feed from its Facebook page, including meeting reminders, road work, upcoming events, and more.
Without a city newspaper or radio station located in La Vergne, local officials have tried numerous methods to communicate with residents, including news inserts in water bills, web announcements, event posters and signs, Tyson explained.
"La Vergne expanded its outreach 18 months ago to become the first municipality in Rutherford County to use social media," she said. "Today, La Vergne is displaying its Facebook feed on the electronic billboard owned by Lamar Advertising."
Money spent by the city for newspaper and radio advertising in previous years failed to reach most of the population.
Rather than paying marketing dollars to sources that are increasingly putting news behind pay walls, the city chose to use the billboard as a tool that would allow for the most visibility, Tyson said.
The LED billboard across the street from the La Vergne Public Library on Murfreesboro Road reaches potentially 55,000 people in cars every day.
The billboard was approved by the La Vergne Codes Department in January 2011, but the city just tapped into the marketing potential in July.
"Advertisements that have been shown include the reconstructive photo of Jane Doe which has produced three possible leads, events at Veterans Memorial Park, information to sign up for the weather warning system CodeRED, and now live Facebook feeds." Tyson said.
The city is the first in Middle Tennessee to use Facebook feeds on a billboard, which have included news about road paving, water service, safe driving reminders as the school year started, a genealogy class offered at the library and more.
"Lamar Advertising is excited the city of La Vergne has chosen outdoor digital technology to distribute information to residents through Facebook. We wish them great success," said Joe McDowell, vice president and general manager of Lamar Advertising.
"We have seen early success using the billboard. There has been a huge jump in attendance at our events, most recently our numbers for National Night Out nearly doubled," Alderman Tom Broeker said. "Because historically it has been a challenge to reach residents with information, it will be exciting to see how this advertising tool will affect upcoming events. The initial results have already been very encouraging."