By Justin Joiner, Wyoming Game & Fish Dept.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department took a big step into the online social world this past year. The department began taking some of its public meetings online in a new way through Facebook and YouTube live events.
Live events are different from meetings that are only streamed in that they give our constituents and other interested parties direct access to the department’s wildlife professionals. Through the built-in chat feature available on both platforms, viewers are able to ask questions in real time as the video is broadcast.
“The interactivity of live events is key for Game and Fish, so it’s important to leave time to answer many of the questions people have,” said Chris Martin, Game and Fish’s digital content creator.
Not only do viewers feel like they have a voice in the process, they are able to participate from anywhere, which is important in a rural state like Wyoming. When roads are bad or the meeting is a six-hour drive, a Facebook Live event gives people access to information and the ability to ask questions no matter where they live.
Moving to interactive meetings on social media was the next step for Game and Fish, which has livestreamed its Commission meetings for years. Because of the interactivity, the new format is more work, but it’s paying dividends in reach and participation. While in-person and live-streamed meetings were seeing declining interest, the first handful of live events on Facebook and YouTube have proved to be popular.
“We’ve had really positive feedback,” said Rebekah Fitzgerald, communication and outreach supervisor for the department.
“We know people are busy and we’ve heard that people appreciate the opportunity to participate in meetings live from wherever they are or if they get interrupted with life at home, they can go back and watch the replay to pick up where they left off.”
The department hosted a live event to talk about how a severe winter impacted wildlife populations around the state. During the one-hour interactive stream at least 1,800 people watched part or all of the event and 65 people posted questions or comments.
For anyone who misses the events, the streams, including chat questions, are archived for future viewing.