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Hagerstown Facebook site takes off

August 14, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown has joined dozens of communities with reminiscent Facebook pages and groups going viral on the popular social-media site.

Be warned. By the time you read this story, some of the information contained within the “You Know Your (sic) From Hagerstown When,” or YKYFHW, Facebook group will be obsolete.

In the short time since these words will have been printed, the group likely will have gained dozens more members and had hundreds more comments added to the conversations, among which new and different threads will have surfaced.

Why?

The emerging Hagerstown group is growing so fast, no one, not even its creator and administrator Chris Abbott, can keep up with it.

And if you ask Abbott, that is a problem he is happy to have.

Getting a memory page or group like YKYFHW to go viral in a small community within days is not just difficult, its nearly impossible, he said.

“It’s like winning the lottery,” he said, adding that he has already had to enlist a second administrator — a volunteer — to keep on top of its growth.

The Hagerstown group is an open one that requires joining to comment or post, but what is posted on the group’s page is open to the Facebook public.

Abbott said he created the group Aug. 5, unaware that around the same time, similar pages for other communities were getting started.  

A simple search on Facebook revealed dozens of similar groups, even using “your” instead of “you’re.”

CNN reported Aug. 4 that Facebook’s long-standing “You Know You’re From ...” groups are experiencing a resurgence.

Within six days, the Hagerstown group had 2,643 members and 8,498 posts.

Not every memory page that emerged recently has experienced similar popularity.

For instance, as of Sunday, “You Know Your (sic) from Waimea (Hawaii) ...” had seven likes and five posts, the first of which appeared Aug. 4, while “You Know Your (sic) From Wilmington (Calif.)” had 218 likes since its first post appeared Aug. 3, according to the site.

In the few minutes Abbott talked with a Herald-Mail reporter Thursday, the Hagerstown group had jumped to 2,671 members and 8,503 posts.  

By Sunday, the group had 2,875 members and 9,666 posts.

Abbott said Thursday that posts were generating two to 130 comments.

Multiply the number of posts by a conservative estimate of the average comments per post and the result, he said, is “viral.”

When asked why he created the group, Abbott said he was trying to creatively drive traffic to area businesses in a downed economy, where advertising is often out of financial reach. He also wanted to bring a compartmentalized society back together on common ground.

As for the grammatical error in the group’s name, he said he put that there as a private joke between him and his wife.

Beyond their joke, Abbott said using the word “your” has inspired people, who might not normally join a group like YKYFHW, to get on board just to correct his grammar.

Among Hagerstonians past and present, the phrase “you know you’re from Hagerstown when” has become a vacuum of sorts, sucking in members and addicting them to deepening conversations about the history, heritage, memories and culture of their home, he said.

“Does anyone remember when this group wasn’t here and we actually got things accomplished?” Ed Naile posted Thursday to the group’s page.

Abbott said anxiety surrounding the economy has pushed people to work harder and appreciate less as they struggle to keep jobs and make ends meet.

“Everyone is out for No. 1,” he said. “Here, (as part of the group), they have come back together to appreciate what they have.”

Or had.

Like a restaurant or a store that went out of business.

“Does ANYONE remember Raxx on the Dual? And who would have thought that Richardson’s would be NO MORE . . . Both locations, Valley Mall & Dual Hgwy,” Kristy Shoop posted Friday.

Some are remembering family members who died.

Tim Jordan on Aug. 8 posted on the group’s page a photo of his brother Terry Jordan, who died in August 1980, and throughout the week, people were commenting about the late Terry Jordan.

“Sometimes his hair looked a little more blonde than in this picture, but there’s no forgetting that smile. Tim, rest assured, he was never forgotten,” Cherie K. Ganoe commented.

These are the conversations Abbott said he hoped the group would spark in Hagerstown, positive reminiscences that build and rebuild connections among the community. He is planning to bring people together face to face this fall with a reunion. More details will follow on the group’s page.

“Positivity inspires,” he said. “When you inspire thought, innovation and creativity and bring people together in a positive way, that is where change resides, where it lives.”

As for negative posts, Abbott said he has only had to delete one so far.

Abbott does not hide the fact that while the group has created common ground, it is also marketing tool for his business, My Tech Communications on Dual Highway.

The group’s icon is a logo for his business and he occasionally posts about My Tech.

But Abbott said he is not out to make money on the group. That, he said, would be “robbing from Hagerstown.”

Rather, he said he hopes the group can boost a community trying to survive a volatile market by allowing the threads to market for his and other companies in town.
 
The group is a creative marketing tool, inspired by a downed economy, that works by starting dialogue, making connections among members and, through the threads, generating word of mouth, he said.

Using his business as an example, he said that before the YKYFHW group went public Aug. 5, MyTech Dual Highway’s Facebook page had more than 800 likes. By Sunday, My Tech’s page had more than 5,000 likes.
 
Abbott said members have been asking if they can post information about their businesses on the group’s page and his response is a resounding “absolutely,” he said.

“I tell them that is what this is for,” he said.
And if the group’s 2,875 members — as of Sunday at 9 p.m. — are anything like Abbott, he is confident the posts have sent business to companies in town like Krumpe’s Do-Nuts, a popular topic on the page.

After reading a thread about the doughnut shop, Abbott said it inspired him to go on his own doughnut run.

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