3 Common Social Media Pitfalls For Economic Development

For the past three years, Intelegia has been tracking and documenting the level of adoption of social media marketing practices by economic development agencies (large and small).  We have seen early adopters continue their use of applications to engage economic development stakeholders and  later adopters slowly dip their collective toes into the Web 2.0 pool of tools.  Each group should be applauded for the efforts to make social media work for them and to be included in their overall marketing activities for investment attraction.

For economic development agencies that have not decided to utilize social networks to market their town or region, remember there are benefits of being “late-late” followers at this point of the game.  One of the benefits is learning from the pitfalls that agencies have found themselves in by not spending enough time thinking through their social media strategy.

Here are three common social media pitfalls that we have witnessed.

1.  Not Considering ALL Possible Opportunities To Reach Objectives

Agencies must bear in mind that social media applications are strategic tools to obtain an overall objective.  As a result, economic development officers must consider all possible opportunities that are in the competitive environment and the best ways to use the tools.  This is a result of a process where all internal  and  external factors are examined in order to discover the best tactics to position the region to take full advantage of the prevailing opportunities.  Once the tactics and opportunities are aligned then the selection and use of social media applications can begin.

2. Rushing Onto The Platforms

With all the promise that social media holds for agencies that would like to market their regions  differently online, it is vital to think through the selection of platforms and functions that will be used over the long term.  One basic pitfall that agencies make when setting up their presence, especially, on Facebook and LinkedIn is creating an user profile as an individual instead of a page on Facebook or a  company profile or group on LinkedIn.  Remember, site selectors and potential investors are looking for an individual as a first point of contact on social networks and then the activities of agency as pieces of intelligence.  Agencies will find that the “person-to-person” engagement scenario on LinkedIn and Facebook much easier than “person-to-agency” engagement.

If your agency has made this  oversight, we suggest that you make the  switch immediately before your network becomes to large and difficult for the individuals that you have invited to your network to switch over to the  proper platform or use the right function.

3. Not Having A Content Strategy

The most common pitfall to avoid is not having a content strategy for a social media initiative.   A content strategy provides a necessary structure to ensure that the brand of the region is at the core of every posting on the selected platforms be it a YouTube video, Facebook Page post or a blog post.   Agencies who fails to have a content strategy will struggle to have a sustainable presence on social networks where engaging target audiences may make or break an agency’s social media initiative.

Conclusion

The ability to learn from other people’s mistakes is invaluable.  It is the opportunity to assess where others went wrong and avoid similar situations.  Economic development agencies which are seeking to implement their social media programs should  not only be aware of top best  practices but errors that have been made in the past and currently online.

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