SHERIDAN — With just 730 residents, the village of Sheridan is never going to be mistaken for a bustling metropolis. Like a lot of small, mid-Michigan towns, the addition of a new traffic light on Main Street is considered big news. Yet somehow the village’s recent Facebook page activity shows more than 1,500 likes.
An unsubstantiated rumor that recording artist Kid Rock would be putting in an appearance at Sheridan’s Hog’s Head Saloon resulted in 14,000 views in just 12 hours. Kid Rock, by the way, never showed; the posting was something of an April Fool’s joke, but one that elicited a lot of “hits.”
If the village’s “official unofficial” Facebook page plays a bit fast and loose with the truth from time to time, it also serves as a repository of up-to-the-minute information regarding Sheridan-related events, such as the farmer’s market, annual carnival and more.
It also features numerous facts and figures regarding the village, state and even the nation. These are updated regularly by Village President Susan Wyckoff-McFarland, who established the page with the help of her brother, Luke Wyckoff of Denver, Colo. Luke Wyckoff is the founder of Social Media Energy, one of the country’s top social media companies.
“My team and I work with a lot of national brands like Sports Authority, Steelcase, History Channel and RE/MAX,” said Wyckoff, “but the Sheridan site is one of the few for which I personally do the writing and posting. I get back home to Sheridan a few times a year when I visit clients in West Michigan, but I get ideas and input every day from Susan and the rest of my family and friends in Sheridan.”
The page originally was set up as a place for area residents to post old and historic photographs of the village. According to Wyckoff-McFarland, it’s now the “go-to” spot online for information regarding local business and events.
“We use the site to generate buzz about things like the Pickin’ in the Park concert series, the Wednesday Farmer’s Market and the Village Cleanup Day,” Wyckoff-McFarland said. “We also try to talk up the village’s restaurants and businesses. Our events draw people from around Michigan and that truly helps our small economy.”
Wyckoff-McFarland added that the “biggest success story” to date for the page was the online preview and coverage of this year’s Memorial Day SpringFest. The page extensively promoted events such as the Elementary School Patriotic Parade, Fireman’s Parade and carnival. After the event, Wyckoff and many others posted photos and video of the celebration that were viewed “by thousands,” according to Wyckoff-McFarland.
Mechela Anderson, a regular visitor to the site, enjoys the historic aspects of the page.
“I love it when Sheridan residents and former residents post old pictures of the village,” Anderson said. “Sometimes it seems like things don’t change much here, but those particular posts give things a whole new perspective.”
As to the Kid Rock at the Hog’s Head rumor? Wyckoff-McFarland admits it was just a clever ruse to generate traffic to the page. That’s part of the fun of the page, she says.
“(He) easily could have been (there), since he lives in southeast Michigan and was scheduled to perform in Grand Rapids two days later,” Wyckoff-McFarland said. “That’s the awesome thing about social media; it’s fun and builds a sense of community. Even when many in the community live miles away.”
Susan Wyckoff-McFarland and Brian Leugs contributed to this report.