My Board Chairman introduced me to fly fishing a few years ago. It is a fantastic sport that requires technical skills and field insight. But, there are also lessons that can be learned from successful fly fishermen to make you a better economic development professional.
One of the first things you learn about in fly fishing is how to read the water. It is all about learning where the fish are likely to be. The reason for this is fairly intuitive. If you want to successfully catch a fish you need to cast your fly to a location where there are fish. Doing so doesn’t guarantee success, but it does set up possibility for success. Casting to water where there are no fish obviously guarantees failure. Bottom line, if you want to catch fish cast where the fish are.
In community branding, the same lesson holds true. If you want to influence a capital investment decision, then you need to invest in communicating your brand promise in media channels where your target CEO is. If you do, it doesn’t guarantee your community will be selected for due diligence review. But, it does increase your odds of success for being considered as a location option. Invest in telling your story in channels that your target CEO does not use is like casting where there are no fish. It essentially guarantees failure.
I am hoping you are thinking “No-Duh”. It honestly is that simple. But, I have found that when the subject of social media comes up, people seem to lose their common sense. Rather than assess the channel to see if their CEO target is engaged in sufficient numbers to warrant an investment, many economic development professionals will argue that they need to invest in the channel because either 1) the competition is, or 2) they believe they can’t afford not to.
I have written on this subject previously. Here is a selection of prior posts –
HubSpot is one of my favorite resources for information on website and social media management. Here are three charts the people at HubSpot put together to provide some insight into the world of social media.
I believe communicating with CEOs looks more like B2B than B2C. In the world of social media, LinkedIn is the clear leader in reaching the business community. Chances are that you will find more potential capital investors on LinkedIn than other social media channels.
LinkedIn also seems to be the most effective channel for generating B2B conversions. So, if your strategic objective is to impact the CEO perception of your community, then LinkedIn feels like a channel you will want to explore carefully.
If your strategic intent is to mobilize the citizens of your community, then the data would suggest Facebook and Twitter are potentially great channel choices to communicate with that audience.
Fish where the fish are. If you are going to use social media as part of your communication mix, have a clear target audience in mind and select the channel that does the best job of providing you the most reach. Get a sound strategic foundation in place and then make appropriate tactical choices that are supported by your strategic plan.
And yes, it honestly is that simple.
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