The Power Of Instagram For Economic Development: See #SewHungry

What do you get when you put the hottest social media tool in the hands of an engaged community?

One powerful case for using Instagram for economic development and marketing a city that been affected by the recent economic downturn.

On May 4th, 2012, the largest Canadian food truck rally took place in Hamilton, Ontario on Ottawa Street.   The event, Sew Hungry was organized by Hamilton Economic Development, The Ottawa Street BIA and Ottawa Street Farmers Market. Besides traditional media, social media was used to promote the event thanks to citizens and other economic development stakeholders.

Instagram’s Role?

Momentum for the event started before the first truck was parked.  Courtesy of supportive citizens, there was promotional content on Instagram.

On the morning of the rally, the campaign gained steam with a flood of tweets with the hashtags, “#sewhungry”, “#hamont” and links to pictures on popular platform.

As the event began, trucks began to serve up famous dishes that was captured by Sew Hungry attendees.  Below is a picture of the Gorilla Cheese truck.

Even Beaver Tails, a delicious Canadian pastry were available at Sew Hungry as captured by Tourism Hamilton.

The initiative on Instagram was not solely a local effort.  Provincial stakeholders were at the rally and on Instagram as seen with OntarioTravel‘s picture of The Cupcake Diner truck.

The event was attended by 12 000 citizens and there were over 230 photos  shared on Instagram.  In addition, the activity on other social media applications resulted in the following:

Sew What?

For those who are still doubting the impact that social media has on economic development may look at these photos above and say, “so  what?”  Although it is a fair question, one has to realize that a tool such as Instagram allows individuals to contribute to a marketing effort that is meant to support an economic development initiative in a city.  As seen in the case of Sew Hungry in Hamilton, the city was able to raise the awareness of a slice of its food sector via a social web application. On the technical side of this tactic, the engaged audience had a mission. All pictures shared on Instagram were tagged with #sewhungry and #HamOnt. By doing so, it help improve the search engine optimization on Google for the event in the future and supported the city’s brand.

In conclusion, the event (live and digital) was a good example on how you can reinforce specific attributes (i.e. upbeat and young) of a city by communicating through an authentic experience.



Planning a digital marketing strategy to engage your region’s brand?  Connect with Isabelle Poirier to discuss how to use Instagram to its full potential.

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About The Author:

Ian is a content strategist and the competitive intelligence researcher at Intelegia. With his knowledge of social media tools and an understanding of branding on the web, Ian formulates content marketing strategies for clients’ needs. As co-author of the Canadian Cities Online Marketing Index© and chief blogger at Intelegia, Ian documents and assesses global best practices of organizations’ approaches to social media marketing in terms of integrating their branding and communications strategies to obtain their marketing objectives. Follow Ian on Twitter @citweetz. __________________________________________________________________

About Intelegia

Intelegia is a consulting firm in Montreal, Canada that understands the need to be innovative and strategic in a business landscape that’s evolving at an incredible pace. The firm delivers social media strategies to efficiently engage with stakeholders in economic development, business to business and business to consumer segments. It assists clients by defining and executing sustainable social web strategies that will allow their brand message to stand out in a competitive environment where target audience engagement is a must.

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