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It’s All About NOW

Do you use Twitter? Do you wonder sometimes about the phenomenal growth of this micro-blogging website and whether it might hold a lesson for economic development?

Here’s a statistic that qualifies to be the envy of anyone trying to promote economic growth: during June 2009, Twitter attracted 44.5 million unique users worldwide, an increase of 1,460 per cent from the previous year.

Now, what makes Twitter tick? All it does is give people a quick way to ask and answer the question, “What are you doing now?”

Therein lies the connection with economic development and investment-attraction websites. The Twitter phenomenon reflects a growing expectation among people who use the web for information – and that certainly includes site selectors – that they will find something new, something NOW, when they go online.

And not just new data or facts – new things about what people are doing, what’s happening in their community, who has opinions or insights into what’s happening, who knows where the good times are.

Twitter, you see, is a social network about now. There are many varieties of such networks, growing rapidly on social-media sites on the web. They serve, and build, communities. They foster relationships. And there is a fundamental reason why your investment-attraction website needs to do the same.

The creative entrepreneurs and professionals who are building and locating the businesses of tomorrow are attracted to places that foster vibrant social interaction and a high quality of life. They interact constantly through devices and consume content at a fast pace.

Does your website appeal to this creative class? Not likely unless it conveys a sense of NOW. In the past, publishing periodic information with statistics on population, transportation infrastructure or work-force education levels was sufficient to attract the attention of businesses. But to attract the attention of people — creative, innovative, business-building people – you need more, and your investment-attraction website has to be up to the task.

Technology Tools to Do the Job

A good craftsman needs good tools. To manage a modern, busy website it is important to have the right software tools.

If you don’t have the right tools, your site cannot keep up with today’s expectations. If all changes you need to make have to go through the bottleneck of a webmaster, IT department or the external web provider, even simple updates or deletions just can’t happen at the speed of “NOW”.

Your site must be a showcase for your community’s competitive advantages and the center of a network of social activity that is all about NOW. A solid technical foundation is one of the things you need to make this happen.

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