Those of you who have been following my blog posts know that I advocate having a strategic rationale for every media channel choice you make in your communication mix. Don’t be surprised when I repeat that message in Houston at the annual IEDC meeting. I will be participating in a panel discussion moderated by Jim Walton (CEO Brand Acceleration, Inc.) entitled “Audience Driven Economic Development Web Strategies”. Other panel members include Jay Garner (Garner Economics), Eric Canada (Blane Canada) and Anatalio Ubalde (GIS Planning). The discussion will be in the afternoon on Tuesday, October 2nd. I hope you’ll mark it as a concurrent session to attend. If you haven’t registered yet for the meeting, please consider doing so. The agenda looks encouraging.
Social media continues to be a high interest topic within any discussion regarding web strategies. As I was doing some additional background research for the upcoming panel discussion, I came across an article published by GCX that I felt was worth bringing to your attention. GCX conducted a panel discussion that included several site selection consultants. GCX asked a number of questions about the information they use to evaluate location options. One question about social media I found particularly relevant.
Here is the social media question from that article. The article contains some additional good insights (many confirming in nature) and I think you will enjoy reading it is its entirety.
GCX: Where do community rankings or indicators fit into the research? How about social media sites, especially those posting as to why they like or dislike a community they are living and/or working in?
Caldwell: Community rankings are interesting, but not a part of our analysis. Social media sites are not important for us in analyzing a community. We have face-to-face meetings with business and political leaders in communities that are short listed. This is where we get the information about how the community is working (or not working) together for the advancement of economic development.
Corde: Very rarely do these [components] factor into the decisions. Sometimes for tax comparisons we will use an outside ranking for determining overall tax burden.
Garner: We will not use social media in our searches. We do look at each region’s and communities Web sites and we do read the newspapers online to review issues of concern.
Sweeney: Rankings and indicators are not used much at all, although because of their profile they often have to be addressed due to client exposure to them. Social media sites with community commentary are rarely used by MSC, although that is likely to evolve in the future.
Vranich: I find social media sites to be of little value because so many postings are hugely subjective in nature.
Didi Caldwell, senior principal/ partner of Global Location Strategies, Greenville, S.C., www.globallocationstrategies.com
Brian Corde, managing partner, Atlas Insight LLC, Freehold, N.J., www.atlasinsight.com
Jay Garner, CEcD, CCE, president and founder of Garner Economics LLC, Atlanta, www.garnereconomics.com
Mark Sweeney, senior principal, McCallum Sweeney Consulting Inc., Greenville, S.C. , www.mccallumsweeney.com
Joseph Vranich, principal, Spectrum Location Solutions, Irvine, Calif., www.spectrumlocationsolutions.com
MY CONCLUSION (and hopefully yours)
If site selection consultants are your target audience, then based on the feedback from these practitioners, you may want to think long and hard about social media as a viable communication channel to reach them with a compelling message or an advertisement about your community.
Social media will continue to be an evolving tool. As the economic development profession gets more experience with the media channel, its role in helping you get your community’s message out will become clearer. At this point in time, I continue to view social media as unproven and encourage you have reasonable expectations if you include it in your communication mix.
What is your experience with social media? Have you found it effective? Are you even trying to measure impact on lead generation? Do you have any examples on what is working and not working? What kind of questions is your Board of Directors asking about the investment you are making in social media? Your feedback will be very helpful to me in preparing my remarks for the IEDC meeting in Houston.
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