Make Up Your Own Mind On The Role of Social Media

Snow Shovels in Miami

Here is a story I heard from a friend.  Every July and August, the proprietor of a local store in Miami would run a special sale on snow shovels.  In the store would be a wonderful display showcasing the shovels with an exceptionally low price.  He had radio spots on WAIL 99.5, took out advertisements in the Miami Herald including coupons making the price unbelievably attractive.  And, every September, the storeowner would take down his display of low-priced snow shovels to make room for his annual Labor Day sale of cosmetics.  After observing this pattern for a few years, my friend’s curiosity got the best of him.  He stopped in the store and asked the owner “How many snow shovels a year do you sell on average?”  Not surprisingly, the answer was zero. “In fact”, the owner said “I lose money every year.”  My friend then asked, “What do you think the biggest reason for failing is?” Smiling wide he responded, “Well son, everybody knows nobody in Miami needs a snow shovel”.  Totally confused now, my friend asked “Then why on earth do you run a snow shovel sale every year?”  To which the owner said “Because in June I can get those shovels dirt-cheap from Michigan and with global warming one day all Miamians will need one.”

Snow Shovels and Social Media

Just like the storeowner in Miami, many EDOs are investing in social media programs because they believe the cost is dirt-cheap and one day capital investment decision makers will actually be using social media.

I appreciate many consultants will argue the point.  In fact, I sat through a webcast for EDO professionals that argued Facebook has 500,000,000 members, each representing a reason why you should be investing your limited promotional dollars in social media. In my mind, the logic is seriously flawed.  Consider the fact that over 2,000,000 people live in the greater Miami MSA.  To the storeowner in the story, that was 2,000,000 reasons to advertise snow shovels.  But, nobody in Miami needs a snow shovel.

If the strategic objective is to influence CEO perception of your community as an ideal location for capital investment, deciding to use social media because it is dirt-cheap is exactly like trying to sell snow shovels in Miami.  In both cases, the target audience is not sufficiently engaged in the media channel to make it a smart choice.

Is Social Media a Bad Investment Choice?

To be clear, no communication channel is inherently good or bad.  Your focus needs to be on ensuring you have a well-conceived strategy guiding your media choices.  In an earlier blog post,  I provided several strategies that would make investing in social media a smart tactical communication choice.  And, that list is far from comprehensive.  Social media is either a good or bad choice depending on the strategic objective you are trying to achieve.

It is All About Having a Valid Strategic Reason for Social Media

Your first step in evaluating any communication channel option should always be to define WHO you want to talk to.  Take the time to do the research and determine if your WHO target is engaged in social media.   If the members of your defined target are not engaged in sufficient numbers, then don’t fall into the trap of selling snow shovels in Miami.  No matter what any consultant tells you, lack of engagement by your target audience means social media is a poor touch point to include in your communication mix.

If your target audience is engaged in social media, then maybe it is a good touch point.  But, you also need to first determine if it is a credible source used for the type of information you are trying to communicate.  For example, when I was involved in branding prescription pharmaceutical products, Agencies would often present with charts and graphs indicating physician use of the Internet was growing exponentially.  Clearly, my WHO target was engaged.  But, on further analysis we discovered that physicians were using the Internet to check stock prices and research difficult medical cases.  They were not using the Internet to learn about specific products.  Consequently, investing in developing a product-centered Internet communication effort never had a chance to deliver a positive ROI. Bottom line? If your message is going to be ignored or disbelieved, then select a different media channel.

Beware the Sirens Song – They Risk Your Money Not Theirs

You are going to be challenged by consultants eager to charge you to create a robust social media presence. They’ll do their best to make you feel like the world is passing you by and if your EDO is not investing in social media you will somehow be left behind.

Investing in cutting edge media is a high risk, low ROI probability choice.  Being the “first mover” is only an advantage when it creates a barrier for the competition.  Being first is always more expensive than being second.  In a large part, because being first to do anything also means you run the risk of being first to fail and failure is expensive.  In business, the cost of being first is always evaluated versus the competitive value of being first.  If the cost:benefit ratio is not favorable, good business leaders opt for an alternative strategy.

Just for fun, ask consultants to put “skin in the game” and help underwrite your costs in exchange for a higher payment at a later date if the investment delivers a positive ROI.  Pay them out of the incremental benefit.  My bet is most won’t “put their money where their mouth” is.

Fast Follower – An Alternative Strategy to Consider

If your WHO target is CEOs and Site Selection Consultants, then in my opinion adopting a first mover strategy to use social media as a communication channel is a highly questionable choice.  The choice fails the first test – your target is not engaged in social media in any reasonable numbers.  And, it fails the second test – those who are using social media channels like Facebook are not seeking information to help them make a better capital investment decision.

An alternative approach for consideration is to adopt a “fast follower” strategy.  This strategy requires you to stay up-to-speed on how social media is being used in economic development and to make a real effort to understand best-in-class success models.  When a sufficient number of your WHO target is engaged, you can then move rapidly to take advantage of the media.  Your plan will be better informed and you’ll be able to move with a greater confidence that a positive ROI can be achieved.

Here are some good articles discussing fast follower as a sound strategy.

Test Mode – Another Alternative Strategy to Consider

This is similar to a fast follower strategy.  You get to the same end from a different path.  If your strategic objective is to build an organizational capability to effectively use social media, then use it to communicate with your citizens.  View it as a practical test that allows you to learn what works and what doesn’t work.  Position your investment as a test with your Management.  Establish reasonable measures and set reasonable expectatiosn.  But, most important, proactively learn with the intent to reapply your knowledge when enough CEOs and Site Selectors are legitimately engaged in social media.  Tourism and building community pride are two great opportunities to explore social media as a communication tool.

One website I would recommend visiting to get a perspective on what good looks like is the online community – .  Kevin Roberts (CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, and author of Lovemarks 2005) was involved in helping create the website.  The target audience is clearly New Zealanders and the strategy is to engage them in a dialogue about their country.  Clear WHO definition, clear strategy, and it’s easy to envision how social media can be leveraged to support the program.  If I were a capital investor trying to better understand New Zealand, this would be a resource I would appreciate knowing about and visiting while compiling my short list of locations to consider for due diligence.

Remember – Social Media is About Catalyzing Dialogue

Social media is all about BUZZ.  As I’ve posted before, principles for effective management of social media can be found in the literature by researching the topic  “word of mouth”.  Social media simply provides a vehicle to facilitate the viral spread of buzz.  One of the secrets to creating buzz is to be buzz worthy.  Perhaps resources might be better invested in making your community buzz worthy than in creating a social media effort that engages too few people to make a difference.

If you are unable to get your messaging to go viral (defined as people share your message – often translated into their own words and appended with their own perspective), then social media channels are simply another form of mass media.

Learn from the Private Sector

I encourage you to visit the following links.  They provide some good information on the real business value of social media.  The private sector is still experimenting with the media channel.  Their learning can be helpful as you think about investing your limited resources in a social media program.  Let the private sector be your pioneers.

If you are in an EDO, consider leveraging your private sector members and ask for access to the person in their organization responsible for social media.  Take that person to lunch and share your social media plan.  You will appreciate the experience-based feedback.  And, since the private sector expert is not trying to sell you anything, you can have confidence the counsel you receive is objective.

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Your support in helping build awareness of this educational endeavor matters and is appreciated.  Leave a comment, I am really interested in your experience.

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31 Comments so far

  1. Shawnda Combs

    February 13, 2011

    I’m typing in kitchen etiquette here –

    Social Media changes way too fast and in purpose blogging/networking always finds its way in the general public – after all they are the end customer. I look at Social Media more of a way to hear/see real views and opinions of your service or product. Good word of mouth trumps almost every other type of marketing – unless of course it uses first hand testimonials.

    Personally and professionally, I have found that positivity breeds success. Facebook for example is the best place to get conversations going about a person, place or thing while creating seo language.

    I also don’t look at banners, ribbons, or pop-ups that are very common on social media outlets. I personally refuse to read them and close them. If for some reason I get “caught” fully reading one, I refuse to purchase the product or service. They are intrusive the same as the mix of business in social media if done to blutly.

    There are companies for hire that will purposely blog positive things about a product or service, as well as negitive. This is the case because where else can you capture your target market 24/7? The problem here is policing. Who has the capital to funde a staff dedicated to monitoring blogs, posts, etc?

  2. David

    February 14, 2011

    Almost a decade of research has proven that social media does not drive business. Its slightly effective for brand awareness but only enough to allocate less than 1% of marketing funds to support it. It turns out that Social media enthusiasts are using it for its intended purpose “socializing”, hence the name. I encourage anybody considering an investment into social media to refer to an article that was published in the WSJ a couple years ago on the topic. It summarized the collective studies.
    I give my clients this analogy: Just like it would be inappropriate to try to sell your product at a cocktail party, its completely ineffective to try to inject your brand message into social communication, even if it is virtual.

  3. Cecilia

    February 14, 2011

    When I think about social media, I do not think about the present. Rather, I think about the future. Socialnomics is a great book about how social media is changing the way we receive and share information, including brand endorsements. Recent college grads are using email so infrequently that some colleges are phasing out giving incoming students .edu email addresses. Fewer and fewer young people use email and prefer the instant response and “conversation” that social media provides. While some more experienced professionals see social media as a giant campaign that will require time and money, younger professionals see maintaining social media tools as a natural part of their work day. The value is out there. As these younger professionals climb the ladder and become the CEOs, social media is going to matter even more.

    As far as the “fast follower” strategy, I don’t think “monitoring” the social media trends translates into being able to instantly implement a strategy the moment it’s decided that an organization should be in the social media game. Having a social media presence takes time and consistency. If a company waits until indicators signals it’s time to play, it will be at a distinct disadvantage compared to competition that has been investing modestly over time.

  4. Michael Perry

    February 14, 2011

    David — a link to the article would be helpful.

    That said (and with all due respect to the WSJ) Social Media of 2011 is a far cry from two years ago. The availability of immediate interaction using smartphones and tablets makes SM far more pervasive. Facebook is the ultimate “opt-in” environment. I’ll stipulate that it helps to have a significant brand presence in place (such as a P&G or Coca Cola). But there is a real opportunity to create and/or expand brand mind share by recognizing that SM is a conversation, not advertising.

    We’re so early in the game it’s hardly appropriate to offer up a “final label” as to what SM is or can be.

    Ed — I’m not aware of any significant incidents of creating capital investment using SM. That said it would be real easy to look for or create a Facebook group focused on that topic.

  5. Ross Spalding

    February 14, 2011

    I like your article regarding social media and social networking as a tool for marketing a city, state, region for capital investment opportunities.I am a retired Economic Development professional, who is still consulting to both ED groups as well as business corporations considering relocation, expansions,consolidations of facilities.
    My experience in dealing with the current ED personnel is not good.I find that the current trend in ED groups is to jump into social media as a tool for ED marketing without any sound strategic planning.They want to look current in order to justify their existence .
    I cold call firms daily (av.25)and they all tell me they receive ED mailings daily.They throw them away ,never read them.Many of them receive e-mails and just delete them.My suggestion to ED people is first look at your assets and liabilities ;then decide which types of industries best fit your area (not just the popular “Green Industry).We call this target marketing.Then prepare Target Market Studies for each selected industry group.Build your marketing plan around this approach and you will be successful.I did it in 3 different locations in my career.If you have any questions ,e-mail me at

  6. Alan Wood

    February 15, 2011

    If you are taking the “fast follower” strategy, you will be so far behind the curve that you will never catch up. That being said, I agree that you need to understand your market, target the areas that make the most sense and use the most effective marketing strategies to promote your community. That includes web sites, email marketing, social media and more typical and tested venues. Remember that Google is barely a decade old! Take a look at what is happening on Madison Avenue. It is an information intensive world and the winners of the future will be those who are able to adapt and use technology to their best advantage.

  7. Michael Perry

    February 15, 2011

    Ed — a quick follow up.

    It’s my belief that Social Media is not a magic bullet. I’ve had multiple conversations with different marketing professionals, and the general consensus can be summed up with the thought that Social Media is just another tool that CAN be effective. It will not replace the emotional need we have to really trust someone before we commit massive personal or monetary equity with them. No matter how a person “checks out” in an online referential environment, I want to know them better — there is no more effective way to do this than to shake their hand and spend some up close and personal time with them.

    Like the Internet in general, Social Media will shrink our relationship environment, creating the opportunity to meet people we once might have thought unreachable. We still need to do our job of creating and nurturing that relationship.

  8. Cecilia Harry

    February 15, 2011

    I just found this list through my Twitter network and wanted to share it – I think many of these reasons are why some EDOs are not seeing the return they want – either their expectations aren’t fair, or their approach and execution is way off:

  9. Mark W Schaefer

    February 17, 2011

    Ed, you and I come from similiar corporate marketing backgrounds and I share your sensibilties and focus on fundamentals. However, we are both at risk of missing the big picture of social media and the wide range of qualitative benefits to EDO’s that may not fit easily into an Excel spreadsheet.

    I have done extenisve work benchmarking social meda best practices at EDO’s and there is thrilling progress being made at big cities and small. It is far too much to get into here in detail but let me just say cite by example that Columbus has realized dramatic and measurable gains in both awareness and reputation that is directly attributable to aggresive social media efforts.

    Richmond created a social information eco-system involving Twitter, blogs and a website to connect people with jobs.

    Calgary is hosting virtual tours of industrial parks on YouTube that saves site selection teams both time and money.

    Metro Denver has swarmed the social web with intelligent content marketing and established a position of thought leadership among site selection groups through a highly effective blog.

    There are ENDLESS successses like these that EDOs will miss completely if they only think social media marketing is a Facebook page!

    The key to EDO differentiation and effective marketing is telling Your Story of Place. There is no better way to do that than through the social web. Period.

    So while I agree with your focus on fundamentals and also the folly of doing something just to climb aboard the train, I disagree with the cautious hesitancy of your approach. There is proof. There are results. There is breath-taking opportunity for our communities and for America. And this is just the beginning.

    And by the way, I was just hired by a foreign government to teach them how to use social media to connect with business and community decision makers. America — I’m still waiting for your call. : )

    Thanks for this superb article Ed.

  10. Ed Burghard

    February 17, 2011

    Mark – Let’s work to get more concrete examples of success models like you note shared as case studies so the ED community can learn how to effectively leverage the potential of this media. I would also be interested in some of the metrics that confirm success. For example, has Calgary seen any incremental capital investment? Or is the payout in reduced cost? It sounds like every example you provided had a solid strategic rationale driving the investment. This is exactly the kind of disciplined thinking I am advocating. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Michael Perry

    February 20, 2011


    I want to expand on some ideas from my previous posts. Before I do that, I’d like to set out my “credentials” such as they are.

    I do not work in the Economic Development space, nor am I a recognized guru on social marketing. I’m just a humble small business owner who has an interest in business growth and a vested interest in the Social Media phenomenon (since we manage the Web Commerce/Social Media efforts for a Minneapolis client).

    One aspect of Social Media is what’s referred to as someone’s “social graph”. Your social graph is composed of all the “networks” in your life to which you belong. Every school you attended comprises a network; every job you ever held also comprises a network. Your hobbies, vocations, interests, and friends create different life networks. They exist due to a common interest, experience, or focus you share or once shared.

    It has been suggested that up until now Social Media has been an ineffective tool for those in the Economic Development field. I believe it is actually a tool that has not yet been mastered. Many Social Media marketing campaigns have failed because those implementing the campaign tried to use Social Media as an advertising medium. They do not understand the basic appeal of Social Media, which is communication — not an information dump. Social Medial “works” because the participants have volunteered to “opt-in” to a conversation about something that interests them. They stay because they receive value from Social Media at several levels. They are fulfilled because what they share has meaning to those with whom they share it — they are “important” in some way. They can learn, and actively support a cause, service, company, product, team, church, or belief. A person who is truly engaged in Social Media likes the fact they don’t get commercials, and if they believe someone is giving them a commercial they can easily tune it out by “defriending”, or not following that entity.

    In my experience highly successful Economic Development professionals have a “large Rolodex”. Isn’t that just a network, or a social graph? The Rolodex has no value unless the owner knows how to use it, or more accurately, how to use the contents. In order to maximize a Rolodex one must communicate, share, and inform. One must develop and cultivate relationships over time in various ways. One has conversations. That’s what this current iteration of Social Media is. To try and use it any other way is to misuse the tool.

    A quick search on the term “economic development” on Facebook returns many hits; local Economic Development groups, school-based Economic Development interest groups, governmental Economic Development groups, etc. They are all networks — opportunities for engagement.

    Social Media is not “free” – one must invest the time necessary to understand what it is, what it isn’t, and what it can be. And like most other things in life — one must provide value before receiving it.

    Social Media will not be a magic bullet. It will not replace the other strategies and tactics used by Economic Development professionals (or any others for that matter!). It can enhance and augment existing processes, and perhaps replace one or two that underperform when compared to Social Media. Time will tell. The challenge will be resisting the temptation to use the hammer as a screwdriver, because you know how to use a screwdriver.

    Thanks for the soapbox – we now return you to your regularly scheduled blog. . . .

  12. scrapebox tutorial

    February 22, 2011

    Does your website have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to send you an email. I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it develop over time.

  13. Ernest Barbaric

    February 23, 2011

    “Social Media” has always been around in one form or another. The only difference is that these voices and communities no longer need to be bound by geographic or demographic boundaries.

    Groups are self-selecting based on interests, wants, needs and belonging. We can do so easily from our home, computer or cell phone. People will rally around an emotionally (ego, id) relevant and important cause, especially when there’s proof that others, who they see as their peers (either socially, or within the peer circle), take action.

    To form and engage a community in this way is to truly understand your ideal audience and ENABLE them to self-select, communicate and engage.

    That being said, in order to entice a social aspect to an ED project, one must first show PROOF that an individual’s opinion REALLY matters. That they will be heard and that their decisions, ideas, etc will be acted upon. This is a building block of activating a community in this sense.

    We have been conditioned to think that our opinion doesn’t really matter. The process of “bringing the power back to the people” is happening, but from a much more grass-roots level, with self-imposed control and regulation. Power, or leadership, is not in the hands of governments, but in the hands of constituents. Your role is to get to know them, understand their needs, wants and emotional drives, and enable them.

    One last thing… Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn may not be around forever, but strong communities will endure, evolve and stay connected by a common cause or idea. This is why there are still VERY active forums built around a specific topic (fountain pens for example), which have been around since the BBS days and will remain until three more Facebooks come and go.


    Ernest // @ebarbaric

  14. JuJu Aquamoist

    February 26, 2011

    Finally! A good piece of work that is useful to me!! 😀 Thank you!

  15. Garious

    February 26, 2011

    Your vivid insights answers the one questions that all businesses of all sizes are asking: How can you use social media marketing effectively to meet my unique business goals?

    If business goals are unique, then it goes without saying that what works for one business would be catastrophic for another!

    So, businesses need to stop going with the flow and chasing after every new fad blindly!

    In my humble opinion, social media is neutral. If used intelligently, you will get great results and the opposite is true.

    There are only two cases when minimizing social presence may be a smart move:
    1- If your niche market is simply not there! For example, if your target market is 65+ seniors, then creating a Facebook page will be pointless! Offline social marketing would be more effective for that particular market.
    2- If your niche market is using social media but NOT looking for business there. Many of your target market maybe be present on Facebook but they are there to have fun. Trying to interact with them for business purposes on Facebook will, again, lead you nowhere. You might have a better shot at seeking them in a more professional site such as LinkedIn.

    The bottom line is: each business has unique needs that must be accurately assessed before deciding on how much time, money and effort should be invested on social media. Also, the term social media is very broad. Be selective and go for the channels that your target market is using for business purposes. Good luck to all 🙂

  16. Mark Evans

    February 26, 2011

    The most important point you raise is the target audience. No matter what communications or marketing medium being used, it needs to reach the right target audience to achieve your business goals and objectives.


  17. Mollie Watkin

    March 5, 2011

    Great article. Waiting for more.

  18. Kevin Donnellon

    March 6, 2011

    This is excellent commentary. I would like to review fast follower. I endorse it in principle. Can’t wait to reflect more on this. Best, Kevin

  19. Hayden Packen

    March 8, 2011

    Hi there! I simply wish to give a huge thumbs up for the good info you have got right here on this post. I might be coming back to your weblog for extra soon.

  20. Simon Hoggett

    March 17, 2011

    We have been evaluating different types of social media for about the past year. These are a few observations from an FEZ point of view.

    1. Facebook – not useful for FDI promotion due to the personal relationship nature of the application. I’ve seen local Korean companies advertise on the side panel (banks to increase awareness of global branches, for example) Facebook has proven to be a very useful tool to promote tourism, events and consumer products. The next time, that I meet their executives, I will ask them the effectiveness of their Facebook ad campaign.

    2. Linkedin – a useful tool for learning/discussing promotion techniques and gaining contact information. I have learned of companies looking for places to invest, but it hasn’t resulted in investment, yet.

    3. Twitter – I have used twitter (the most actively among SM) to raise awareness of our region and for promotion to traditional media types and other promotion agencies (Korean national branches and their international agencies). I think that it’s working, but to which degree, it is hard to tell. Twitter must be managed daily to have long-term effects, so while inexpensive financially, it can be time consuming. The key is to post only useful information (i.e. what I think people want to read, not what people in our organization are proud). That’s is a battle in itself . In a year, I will be in a better position to re-evaluate its effectiveness. From my point of view, twitter is a very effective way to keep apprised of news in real-time, effectively replacing an RSS feed.

    4. Youtube – We’ve up loaded videos, and there are some hits, but I don’t consider it to be effective for FDI attraction.

  21. George Harben

    March 19, 2011

    Social media is one component of a comprehensive marketing strategy. Social media is generally considered inexpensive, but I disagree. It takes time to find and connect with people. More importantly, it takes time to find appropriate and relevant material to post on various accounts. This is a unique form of communication. You can try to drive traffic to your website (if that is a goal) and it allows you to tell your story. That can consume time.

  22. George Harben

    May 1, 2011

    I think Ed is correct. As Ed has heard me before, I view social media as another tool in the arsenal. In all honesty, I did not expect it to generate many leads or projects.

    When I tried to use social media as a vehicle to generate interest, I had between 3-4 weeks of solid posts. That was after an exhaustive survey of key business, non profit, and government websites and press releases. When I first started I tried to think strategically and spent a couple of weeks finding a back log of potential posts as well as identify future sites to check. Frankly, I quickly ran out. After that point I had to change my strategy. I decided to add stories and studies that may be of interest to my primary customers. If all you do is post messages about how great your area is and the content is lacking, then in all likelihood you do a disservice to your primary customers.

    One key benefit of Twitter is the ability to segment your primary customers. Perhaps the biggest mistake people make when adding a social media program is grossly underestimating just how much time it will take. It is important to keep your (and your board’s) expectations realistic.

  23. elias shams

    May 2, 2011

    It’s no brainer to see that social media is here to stay for good. Given vast variety of the existing channels to choose and stick with, it’s time for such a hot space to enter into a new category. There is a need for a portal to provide a quick and intelligent decision for both the consumer and the enterprise about their online connections.

    A Platform to Help us to Distinguish Our Quality vs. Quantity Friends, Fans, Followers, and Companies

    Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Flickr and others have been doing a decent job of providing additional marketing exposure and even in some cases, additional revenue. However, as more and more social networking sites pop up, how do you manage your brand across all these channels? Maybe more importantly, which one of these sites should you select as the one that will help you best reach your target audience? The proliferation of the social media avenues is becoming overwhelming.

    This glut of information reminds me of the early 90’s when WWW was adopted broadly by the general public. Every company rushed to have a presence, to the point it became literally impossible to find the right information on the Web. That’s when a better generation of search engines – at first the Yahoo! and then Google – entered the market and helped us find the most relevant information by just typing simple keywords in their search box. If you had asked before Google launched, if there was a need for another search engine – most would have said no, we already have those….

    Then came Web 1.0 & 2.0 – Youtube, Flickr, myspace, Facebook, Twitter and countless others have turned everyday people into content producers, influencers and experts. We basically tripled down on the information overload How do you know which channels to select for deploying your social media strategy? How do you know which one is the right channel to let your fans and followers to find you, your products, and services? Most importantly, who is Joe Smith that is recommending that person, that company, that product?

    I hope my can accomplish such a mission. The site is not another social networking platform. Yet the portal to all your existing social media channels. The platform helps you, your fans, your potential clients to make an intelligent decision as to which company to connect to or follow via which social media channels and why? It’s free!


    CEO & Founder

  24. Jennifer Vallarautto

    May 2, 2011

    What a great article, especially all of the follow up comments. My own take is SM is like any form of advertising – there is an art to creating the right type of message that engages people enough that they want to buy your products and/or services. Our company uses it as a soft approach to share information, not so much to sell to people. What I have noticed is it can very quickly become like white noise – everyone is doing it so no one really stands out. The challenge in marketing socially is the same as traditional methods: how do you present your material and information such that people are motivated to buy? Even among award winning ads, most do not inspire me to change buying habits. My curiosity is to see what the real dollars are behind all types of ads: after running SM campaign or print ad or a TV/Radio ad, what were the sales figures?

  25. Praveen Premkumar

    May 3, 2011

    Social Media can bring in Capital Investment. Social Media is like Cancer, it is very slow to start, and then even before you realize its come, gone and done with. Good or Bad is a question. Social Media can be used to share and promote good/positive stories and then using twitter/Linkedin targeting that directly at the prime prospects. Maybe dedicated pages on the goodness that has prevailed over different countries will help generate that pull, but the USP would be to give that same feeling online. Why not have a program developed, that can let people invest (virtual money) online and see how it brings in better development both for the country as well as for themselves in terms of ROI?
    For eg: If there is a GUI, where in I can invest like 10Mn $ for maybe a Automobile factory. The GUI should immediately show how the money is invested, how it helps in real estate being developed, how it helps people with a livelihood, and while all this is happening, there should be a ticker on the right which shows when they would hit the break even point…cut that to a feel good investor, employee, country…etc…Theres is nothing like seeing your money grow in front of you, and at the same time see how it has brought about a change in the lives of many people…

  26. Bernie Scibienski

    June 15, 2011

    Social media in the internet age must be a part of any Economic Development Strategy. A thought provoking piece is
    Rethinking Economic Development In the Internet Age

    Economic Development needs “google juice” It’s not a matter of would you-but the question is do you ! One size does not fit all, but it requires a change .
    The change involves networking, distributing data , being a platfoirm and instant answers. With Social media your clients are your marketing agency.

  27. Neil Stechschulte

    June 15, 2011

    There is a danger is assuming your entire target audience is or is not engaged in social media. Someone your interested in probably is. The other danger is counting solely on one kind of social media, or trying to utilize all of them at once.

    We have found that starting slowly with a blog that we promote via e-mail and hyperlinks on partner web sites. Then we started doing a targeted business news post every calendar day of 2011 (Project 365). We added direct a email subscription sign up, as well as a blog following feature. Starting July 1st, we are going to launch Project 365 on Twitter, Facebook and Linked In. Each step, we have been able to measure activity using Google Analytics. Through Project 365, we promote milestones in our local business community, and provide some value added promotion to our companies. It also serves as a great testimony to our local business climate when speaking to prospective companies considering moving to our community. It has strengthened the relationship with our local news media, and other business groups in the community. This has evolved over the past three years, and we fully anticipate it continuing to change how we do marketing and communicate.

    At the end of the day, it is clear that our use of online media is most effective when we use it to facilitate face to face communications or at least in support of other marketing events and efforts.

    So to anyone debating social media, I say go for it. Before you try a consultant, find a local social media networking group and take the time to see what other folks are doing and learn from them. Pick one medium and get comfortable with it, and then add another one. Have direct conversations with stakeholders and continually ask them what they find useful. I’m no expert, but I find it fun and I have a core group of users that I communicate with and rely on for inspiration. Keep it dynamic and be flexible. If its not working, try something else. Most importantly, stay committed to it and consistently post relevant, useful and interesting content. You might just be surprised by your results.

  28. Joshua Arnold

    June 16, 2011

    Social media is a very useful tool. Ed makes a great point about EDOs, and any business for that matter, using social media in the wrong way. Much like the Miami store owner selling snow shovels, you got to be talking the same the same language and about the same stuff your potential clientele are talking about or else you’re going to lose money and waste time.
    Big questions that must be answered are: 1) what are the people I know talking about and 2) what am I talking about that people I know want to hear? This will set the tone for the content of any online marketing campaign, especially social media campaigns, taken on by EDOs and businesses.
    In finding the answers to these two questions (and those questions that will follow) EDOs and businesses must be willing to let go of preconceived notions about their message and prepare to talk about things that are not necessarily related to economic development. Stuff like movies, TV shows, food, and celebrities.
    Finally, I would challenge the notion that social media is all about buzz creation or dialogue stimulation. That is part of it, but there is more. Social media is also about information gathering, trend analysis, brand awareness/continuity, and client/customer engagement. It’s even become part of e-commerce as product can be purchased through a company’s Facebook page.
    Social media is an excellent component to an overall online marketing strategy. You can’t have a good online marketing strategy without it, and you can’t do social media right without a good online marketing strategy. Social media is a great tool, if you know how to use it correctly.

  29. Neil Stechschulte

    June 18, 2011

    A quick follow up to my earlier post: Eventually you may find yourself at a point where you need a consultant or an experienced social media user to help you get to the next level. Jumping in to get to know how to use this media is strongly recommended. But also know that at some point you’re going to need to sit back and figure out how social media fits in to your overall marketing efforts, how it can support those efforts, and how it can help you measure the success of those efforts.

  30. Kavan

    June 22, 2011

    In my own experience, Twitter & Linkedin have worked exceedingly well in communicating new developments and initiatives, but no IPA talks about the not so good stuff hence i think prospective investors too would probably use such locations and information on it with a pinch of salt but still feel its a good step to getting into the location broad lists

    I am still a firm believer that blogs will always stay on top of the entire social communication strategy. It’s non commercial back end ensures top results on search engines and ensuring super visibility and gets even better when your content is bang on target.

  31. Encoradrino

    January 31, 2012

    I really like your writing style, good info , thanks for putting up : D.

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