Guest Blog: Spotted Torquay - Behind the scenes

Spotted Torquay blog
(Last Updated On: December 18, 2014)

Spotted isnt all about copying and pasting messages…

So as regulars to the Facebook page: Spotted Torquay will know, I have the dreaded man flu. I am currently stuck in bed (ok, I could get out but it’s best to rest, right?) So I thought I had best get started on the guest blog that I said I would do.

Spotted has grown massively since it first started in 2013. It was started as a bit of a joke but now has almost 20k people on the page and reaches over 1 million people a month.

The page has matured slightly since its early days, it is now a useful community tool, informing people of news, events and one of its biggest uses… reuniting people/pets and items.

Spotted has helped find missing people, the page works fast in getting word out if someone goes missing. We (I say ‘we’ or ‘us’ as although I am the only admin, I see Spotted as a team effort by everyone who uses it) can reach thousands of people within minutes.

Since Spotted began, it has helped reunite a lot of pets with their owners. There was a nice post yesterday about a cat that was returned 13 months after it was first posted as missing on Spotted. It took a while but Lulu is home just in time for Christmas.

The page works well for missing dogs, obviously for their safety, they need to be found quickly and quite often, within an hour they will be home with their owners or at very least, located. When Winston the Paignton dog went missing, the post reached millions of people all over the country. Unfortunately it wasnt a happy ending for his family as he was found in a pond but everyone did their best to get the word out, something his family appreciated.

There has been hundreds of lost items that have been returned to people – phones, ipads, watches, passports… and recently a pretty expensive bag containing an iphone (if you remember that post, yes – She got it back!) The page has even helped police locate stolen items (The most recent being a motorbike)

We will sometimes be contacted by the police, who will ask us to share stuff for them. The police are aware of the power of social media and we are happy to assist. As you know, I help out on this website and thanks to the hard work of the team here, one missing person post reached almost 50k people in hours and generated 5k responses (You may have Heard Sgt Sheps on Torbay Hour Radio talking about it)

We also have a bit of fun.. this is also important. Its why the page was created! We have a few ‘resident jokers’ I am pretty sure that most people on Spotted have heard of ‘Ashley, Torquay’. I would describe his jokes as marmite!

We get a few debates on the page, sometimes these turn into arguements (by people commenting) this unfortunately happens on the majority of pages and is a regular occurrence on social media. Lets not let it detract from all of the good stuff on the page.

So do I (as I had intended when I set up the page) just copy and paste messages onto the wall?
No… I have to message information to and from people re. lost items/pets etc (It takes a while to search hundreds of messages) I talk to a lot of charities and organisations about how we can help them. I also spend a lot of time looking up services/professional help for people that need it. Sometimes I get messages from people that are desperate,  it would be inappropriate to post their messages at a time when they are vulnerable.  I cant just ignore them but I know my limits, I am not a counsellor,  I will try my hardest to find them appropriate help.

Sometimes people are lonely and just want a chat. That’s fine, if I have the time (I do work full time much to peoples surprise) I will have a little chat with everyone. I meet some very interesting people.

I dont get paid for Spotted (sometimes people will donate a few quid for a pint, always welcome. The globe Inn in Paignton even have a collection for me!) So why do I do it?
Simply… because I cant stop now! Sometimes, when I have just finished a night shift, received an inbox full of abuse (I am an easy target for keyboard warriers!) or I am ill, I just want to switch off my phone/laptop.. and sometimes I do but I cant stay away for long! I am aware the page is needed… (Please give me time to respond and remember that realistically I cannot be online 24/7. The minority of people that send abuse if a message is not posted immediately – calling me every name under the sun isn’t the best way to seek the pages assistance)

Now, I am not asking for all the credit… everyone on Spotted makes it what it is. Its OUR page, not mine.

So why don’t I get another admin. This is tricky… after being admin for well over a year, I know what can/can’t be posted. Sure, I make mistakes (I am human) but its going pretty well. We are one of the longest lasting (original) Spotted Pages in the country. I want it to stay that way.

Of course, things are easier with having the We Are South Devon Facebook page, if I am not going to be around,  I direct people over there – Thanks WASD!

What will 2015 bring? Much of the same! WASD is growing and I hope Spotted will continue to assist with that.
There are way too many people to thank on here because so many people have helped and supported both Spotted and WASD. Of course, our long suffering partners need acknowledgement!

So thank you all and Merry Christmas!

(Is now a good time to say I have promised my wife that I will have a ‘Spotted free’ Christmas day?)

I going back to sleep for an hour, can someone bring me some paracetamol?
See ya back over on Spotted.

Mark.

(Author)

Team account for We Are South Devon.