Facebook seems to be all consuming at times. It provides me with hours of entertainment; from the ridiculous reality-series-like drama of some of my female friends to the irreverent humour of my radio biz friends to the sneak peeks of upcoming movies and TV series that I can't wait to see. I also find it a great way to connect with friends, without actually having to write long letters or make small-talk-filled phone calls. As my friends will attest to, I am terrible at making phone calls. I find it easier to reply on my time, as well as to be able to go back and remind myself of what people have said.

All in all, Facebook can be entertaining, it can elicit emotional responses, it be politicized and it can be super-super informative. I figure FB is here to stay and if you're not on board, you're missing out on a lot of what's happening around you.

I have over 600 Facebook business, product, and celebrity pages that I 'Like' (that doesn't count the 280 Friends I have), which means, theoretically, I'm reading something like 2400+ posts in my newsfeed every day. But the majority of them don't even post once a week. Some of them have never posted at all (DO YOU HEAR ME ST. CLOUD SUPERMAN?!?). Which begs the question, if you're not going to participate, why are you there?

What I've discovered about business or product Facebook Pages is that they can really make you want more. A good business or product Facebook page (for me anyway) gives you two or three good feeds a day. Five or six and it’s too much, once a day and I’ll never see it. Stuff that makes you want to click on a link, or laugh, or best of all, comment. A good one can also drive you to their brick and mortar location with FB only deals and specials, or fun daily/weekly contests. The big guys like Target, The MN Twins and even Dr. Pepper do all those things. It doesn't take a marketing degree to know people just wanna have fun, and if they can save some money or get a prize while doing it, even better.

But alas, one thing I've found sorely lacking is an abundance of LOCAL Facebook pages that give me the kind of satisfaction I crave from my Facebook 'Likes'. Maybe you're feelin' me, right now. Maybe it didn't even occur to you that businesses right in your own backyard have Facebook Pages you can 'Like'. I'll tell you, from what I've experienced; very few Central MN Facebook pages are worth the bandwidth they're allotted, much worth a 'Like' click from you. Most just sit there and do nothing, just so someone can say, 'Yeah. We're on Facebook.' But I'm going to change all that for you.

If you've made it this far thru my little diatribe, you're about to be rewarded with what I think are some of the BEST LOCAL FB PAGES I've found, either through being a mad-clicker of the 'Like' button on every darn local FB page I can find, OR (and this is the best way to find local pages), going through the 'Likes' on the pages I already like. You'll find those on the left of your favorite FB Business Pages.

So here you go; 5 very good, engaging FB Pages you should like. They all are very active, do all the things I demand from an FB page and they are well worth the extra effort of moving your mouse or finger over the links to get to their pages. I've ranked them for engagement, with #1 being the most entertaining and content-laden.

I have to admit I'm a little biased on this one. I'm a huge supporter of the TCHS. I've adopted several pets from them and I applaud the hard work they do. Now granted, they're not on FB all the time. But I have to give them a push on that, because they obviously have their hands full already. Their page activity mostly consists of a couple of weekly feeds showing a pet that needs adopting or a reminder for one of their fundraisers. It's not a lot of content, but the stuff they do put out is super important and I can't help but think if they had more fans, they'd get a better response and in turn have more animals in homes. So give a click and a 'Like' and start saving some animals.

Yeah yeah I know. Bias again. They're one of the radio stations in our building, but I'd like them even I didn't work with the fine upstanding, award-winning creative folks at the end of the hall. They're out in my feed a couple of times a day (I wish it was more, hint hint, Jim) and I'm constantly seeing my friends on FB sharing their stories. Maybe I'm just a news junkie, but I have a real need to know what's going on in my city, and the WJON FB page feeds it to me and let's ME decide if I want to read it off their website, or just tune in. That's cool and no one else does it. So go like it and then tell Jim, Lee and Abby you want more!

As unlikely as it sounds, I really like reading the news feed posts from these guys. They offer a different type of feed just about every day if you combine the two. Now, I don't know if they're doing it willy-nilly or if there's some sort of magical marketing whiz running the page over there, but they always seem to capture me with their recipes, their contests (who doesn't want a $50 gift card just for commenting?) and they alert me to their weekly specials/free items. No need for that newspaper anymore, eh? Again, I wish they would post more. I could go for a few more recipes.

I know what you're gonna say- 'My kid's don't go there'. More than likely they don't. But I can't figure out WHY the St. Cloud Schools don't think it's necessary to have an FB page. IMHO District 742 is missing out on one of the best ways to communicate to the parents and kids. ISD 748 has a page that is everything an FB page should be; fun, informative, relatable, local and the pride the District's teachers take in the students is evident. They drop stuff virtually every day, and it covers a wide range of content. One day you'll get info on a school levy, the next you'll get the Senior Choir busting out Lady Gaga during lunch at the high school and most importantly, they'll alert you if school is cancelled. That in itself would be all I ask of a school district's FB page, but Sartell-St. Stephen goes WAAAAY beyond that. So even if your kid goes to Foley, you should click this page, because you'll see all the amazing things kids and teachers can do together.

The Great River Educational Arts Theater page is truly the most engaging local page I've seen in my feeds. They rival some of my favorite pages such as Tosh.O, KARE 11 and The Office. It's clear from their content; the participants in this organization are having a ton of fun. You'll get frequent videos from them that include behind the scenes stuff, sneak peeks at their rehearsals and goofy promotional shorts. They run incredibly creative contests both on FB and in the community, and they ALWAYS tell you about them on the page! They drop ticket and show info frequently and post little reminders about special shows for schools and local organizations.  Best of all, THEY ANSWER YOU BACK if you post a comment. That's one of the things that puts them above the pack. If you pick just one FB page to like this year, make it this one, you'll be richly rewarded with generous and fascinating content on a regular basis.


I hope this helps you out in your search for fun, entertaining and informative LOCAL FB pages. If you know of a page(s) that can meet my rigorous standards, tag it in a post below. Maybe I'll feature it in a future column.