Division C

Category 11 - Other
Martin County Aquatics Center Facebook Page

Research/Situation Analysis
In 2006, The Martin County Board of Commissioners passed a voter-approved half-penny sales tax earmarked for acquiring environmentally sensitive lands as well as for investment in parks and recreation. At that time, the construction of an aquatics center was identified as one of the top priorities to receive funding.  Martin County’s only public pool was an aging facility with limited public access that was located at Martin County High School. More than three years later and, while the County was facing a multi-year fiscal shortfall, sufficient funds were collected to build the proposed aquatics center.  On Tuesday, January 26, the Martin County Commission was scheduled to vote on whether or not to move forward with the $9.6 million project. Although funding to build the facility had already been collected, there was still concern among the commission and some citizens about starting such a project in the current economic climate.  With only three weeks before the vote, research was conducted to find communication vehicles that could rally support on a limited timeframe. The Firefly Group volunteered to assist the Aquatics team by quickly creating a Facebook fan page as one of the tactics to generate buzz and rally support prior to the Commission vote.  The team hoped the Facebook page would help them reach their target audience of Martin County citizens who would utilize the facility, including parents, students in swim teams, parents of special needs children, elderly citizens, rehabilitation patients, etc. <http://www.facebook.com/MartinCountyAquaticsCenter>

The ultimate goal was to secure the Martin County Commission vote to move forward with the construction of the aquatics center. The objectives for the Facebook page were to:
(1) Provide a centralized hub of information about the project that would reach a diverse cross-section of the community - at no cost.
(2) To amass at least 200 Facebook Fans prior to the vote on January 26.   
(3) To use the Facebook page to encourage supporters to attend the commission vote, with at least 20 people attending the meeting.

A Facebook Fan Page was created and populated with text and images. The images included concept plans of the aquatics center as well as generic aquatic images.  Copy was drafted that included key message points for the project. News articles were shared via Facebook posts. A Facebook event was created for the Martin County Commission meeting and fans were invited to attend. The site was promoted through word of mouth—Facebook fans were asked to invite their Facebook Friends to become fans of the site. Within one week the page accumulated more than 500 Facebook fans! Fans also interacted with each post that was added to the site.


More than 100 people packed the Commission chambers to support the aquatics center, including a diverse cross-section of the community such as student athletes, parents, children, children with disabilities, and business owners. More than 30 citizens made public comment in support of the aquatics center.  The Facebook Fan page was used as an example of widespread support and fan comments were shared with the Commissioners. The Martin County Commission approved the construction of the Aquatics Center with a 4 to 1 vote.
1) The Facebook Fan page acted as a critical information hub of information about the project that reached a diverse cross-section of the community - at no cost.
2) More than 700 Facebook users became fans of the Martin County Aquatics Center by the Commission meeting. [Note: subsequent to the vote, the Fan Page continues to generate fans and is currently at 882 fans.]
3) More than 100 citizens attended the Martin County Commission meeting in support of the aquatics center.

There were no costs associated with the creation of the Facebook page. The Firefly Group’s donated approximately 15 hours was donated.