Over the past six months we’ve explored many ideas and philosophies of what Hornell Partner’s for Growth is supposed to do for Hornell–what its role is, the main function of the organization… There are a couple things that we know for certain, and a couple things I’ve continually beat you over the head with: 1. Hornell Partners for Growth is a business improvement district that utilizes a levy on commercial real estate within an assessed area, and 2. Promotion of that district seems to be the fundamental goal. So where we all get confused or have differing opinions on is how to evenly distribute the promotion, and what the best form of promotion is.
I believe that the approach is multifaceted, but is actually simpler than expected. We’ve been living in the ever-evolving era of technology our whole lives, and now more than ever that technology is difficult to keep up with. Methods of media and social media change constantly, and it’s as easy as a iPhone click to get any information you want at your fingertips. So, naturally in an technologically evolving social media realm, it’s difficult to stay relevant.
Keeping the topic of social media, let’s explore Facebook for just a moment. Facebook helped HPG become relevant under the previous director, and she did a fabulous job utilizing this tool. And today, Facebook still ranks as the most trafficked social media outlet in the US. However, that is not the only outlet people are using. Instagram, Snap Chat, and Twitter are all still very relevant (and I think there is still Myspace out there???). And different age groups tend to use one outlet over the other.
Let’s break it down a step further, and let me remind you that we have 220+ businesses within the BID. Approximately 50% (maybe more, I haven’t crunched the numbers), or approximately 110 businesses have a Facebook page. Approximately 40%, or 44, of those businesses that have a page use their Facebook regularly. Another approximate 33 businesses (30%) only use their Facebook periodically. Another approximate 22 businesses (20%) only use their Facebook monthly. And approximately 11 (10%) have Facebook pages that they haven’t used in years. So therein is a problem with how we have been going about utilizing social media. Because of the varying usages of social media, some businesses get more individual promotion than others. And some, because of there absence of social media, get zip!
I purposely stayed away from any Facebook sharing this past month (September) as part of an experiment of sorts… I wanted to see if there would be any backlash. I wanted to see if people noticed. And all in all, only a few people were really concerned. Mostly because we were sharing upwards of 30 businesses/day, a lot of the shared posts get lost on the timeline. So, we’ve been spinning our wheels a bit. Not to say that sharing business’s posts don’t have any traction, but it was certainly saturating our page and making it difficult for people to find pertinent information.
So, what is the answer? Good question! With questions I don’t have the answers to, I turn to successful models and see what they do. The most relevant successful BID in close proximity to us is Corning’s Gaffer District (que in all the naysayers that say I can’t compare Hornell to Corning), and if you take a look at their Facebook Page you’ll notice that they don’t go through every day and share each individual business’s post. But what you will find is original content rooted in the Gaffer District’s major events, and pertinent to the ENTIRE BID.
So, my answer is one of trial & error. What I’m implementing this week (starting Thursday) is a new Facebook sharing schedule, along with an original content sharing schedule. Mondays & Thursdays will be “Sharing Days” where I search out the individual business’s Facebook Page and go crazy sharing posts. Mondays I’ll leave for the professional services like banks, insurance, health and medicine, and so on. Thursdays will be your dining, drinking, and entertainment. Tuesdays and Wednesdays I’m going to try to blog a bit more and keep it fresh with original content.
The more original content we can provide, the more evenly dispersed the promotion of the BID will be. And, at the end of the day we want to ATTRACT PEOPLE TO HORNELL! I think if we continue to show the diversity, quality, and excitement of our businesses in unique, original ways we will start to develop that “place identity” I’ve mentioned before in previous blogs. Alongside the originality of what we produce, if we continue to speak transparently about our current issues, repertoire of ideas, and the possibilities of the future, we, as a BID, can really hone in on what it means to be a desired downtown area.