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Social Media as a Cornerstone of a Creative Economy Campaign

If attracting the creative class is a strategy for economic growth in your community, you need to be aware that social media will likely be a key communications channel for your marketing campaign.

Why? Because social media websites and tools provide the most effective and economical means for you to segment your target audiences and to measure how much activity your messages are generating.

Challenges of Segmentation

Creative economy campaigns are focused on people as opposed to industries. This requires a different marketing approach, as we have pointed out earlier in this series (please see “Marketing to Attract the Creative Class,” April 13, 2010). The first challenge is that the creative economy is so broad that marketing dollars can easily be wasted by not hitting the right points on this very large target.

A necessary first step, then, even before a strategy is developed, is to define your target creative audience. This can be done using consumer marketing type segmentation – by age, by hobbies, by education and by job title, for example.

Next steps are to define the other basic elements of creative economy marketing: key messaging, differentiation, unique attributes and examples of successful creative class persons in your community.

With these elements in place the attraction campaign can be developed. It will essentially be a lifestyle campaign. While lifestyle marketing can and should be done using multiple channels, social media websites and tools are essential to the campaign because they can precisely reach audiences that are already qualified.

By “reach” we don’t mean simply sending messages. Social media by definition is interactive, and it is this very characteristic that it a favourite of the gregarious creative classes. They want to be part of communities – so the objective of your creative economy campaign is to draw them to yours.

The campaign should identify relevant associations and their groups, forums, or discussion groups. Your carefully selected communicators should join these groups so they can take part in, and create, relationships. Examples of ways to use social-media websites include:

  • Developing fans and sharing relevant information using Facebook;
  • Using YouTube to disseminate success stories;
  • Using Twitter to reach varied target audiences.

All of these channels need a central point of reference, a home base for your communicators and their messages. That’s why it is necessary to have an alive, active and powerful website to convert those visitors who are interested into enthusiasts and evangelists for your municipality.

Ideas Into Action

The ideas presented here are more than theoretical; they have been put into action by forward-looking communities and regions in North America and around the world. Here are a couple of examples:

Enterprise Florida

The mission of Enterprise Florida (www.eflorida.com) is “to diversify Florida’s economy and create better-paying jobs for its citizens by supporting, attracting and helping to create businesses in innovative, high-growth industries.”

The agency uses a wide variety of social media marketing tools including:

Regional Municipality of Halifax

The Greater Halifax Partnership, a public-private partnership that is the catalyst for economic growth in the capital city of Nova Scotia, has adopted a full complement of social media marketing tools at www.greaterhalifax.com. Visitors to the site are able to access:

The channels that these organizations have selected contain messages and conversations aimed very carefully at the creative people they want to attract. At very low cost, they can reach audiences that can be tracked and measured over each channel, but are essentially limitless. In fact, never before have so many people been so reachable in segmentable target groups.

That’s why social media should be a cornerstone of your creative economy attraction campaign.

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