A couple of weeks ago Miriam Schaffer and I got to give this talk to the CALED’s 32 Annual Conference… Social Media is a method of communication that works really well for cities and communities. The reason is communities are the original social media! Living or working in communities, people talk to their friends, they’re interested in what‘s going on around them, and what new things are happening.
What are the three essential pieces of a Social Media plan?
To use Social Media effectively you have to understand the brand of your community, you have to decide what Social Media tools you’re going to use and you have to have a clear idea of the message you want to communicate.
Let’s start with understanding your communities brand. What is a brand? According to Dave Dunn in his book “Branding, The 6 Easy Steps,” it’s owning a single idea, concept or feeling in the mind or heart if the customer. Sometimes it’s just a word. A phrase. An emotion. …you want to own it in the mind of the customer. A brand helps differentiate you from the competition.”
An important thing to remember is that the people living and working in your community have a good idea of the brand. So, you want to make sure that what you are saying in Social Media sounds right to the people reading or watching it.
To do a good job of understanding your brand you need to be clear about 4 things. The first is to really understand what differentiates you from the communities and cities near by. There is always something that differentiates you. When we worked with the City of Fairfield we found out that they had an excellent and substantial supply of water. Communicating that brought in additional food businesses that needed an abundant supply of high quality water. With Downtown Napa we found that there were as many Zagat rated restaurants per city block in Downtown Napa as there was in Downtown San Francisco. Once we started communicating that, people started to drive in to enjoy the restaurants and then shop at the stores nearby.
The other three things you should know are what are your community’s goals for the next five years, who is the target audience and what do they think of your community right now.
Once you have that clearly identified and you know what your brand message is, you start working in Social Media. Here’s the brand Message for Suisun City, “An affordable Bay Area business location, with Cape Cod charm, near San Francisco and Sacramento, with convenient freeway access and Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor.” The Social Media tools that we recommend include a search engine optimized website and blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. There is good opportunities with LinkedIn, Google+ and the new favorite Pinterest. You need to keep information flowing through social media on a regular basis, and you need to make sure that you keep your message clear and easy to understand.