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Branded Content-Driven Twitter Feed for Local Authorities

We engaged with the economic development office of a Midlands city to look at the way they were driving business development through their social media presence. We have already explored some of the issues with this project in our Blog post on the economic data dashboard for local authorities. One of the problems the city articulated was the effort expended to meet their real need to reach out to and engage with specific business sectors within the city.

In particular, it was felt that they did not always connect with the small business community which mattered to the city. Despite frequent meetings with representatives of the community, it was felt to be labour intensive to capture and address small businesses effectively and comprehensively.

There were some problems here, and we gave a good deal of thought to the challenge of creating a sustainable method for two-way communication which would engage and retain the interest of this diverse and time-limited group of businesses. Firstly we analysed the Twitter followers of all the relevant City social media accounts and found a healthy following of enterprises over a wide area. When we looked deeper and examined these followers to see who made use of the information, how often and to what effect. It became clear that the reach of the economic development information was very limited indeed.

The solution we suggested was also based upon a closer look at the various sources of data and tools the city had already invested in to support economic activity and businesses large and small in their interactions with the city. It is possible that the approach described below can be used more widely where a city or region already has some databases relevant to the community or communities in question. In any event, we demonstrated a way in which existing resources with additional input from ourselves could provide a sustainable and engaging, i.e. interesting feed of content for a social media platform such as Twitter.

We proposed a dynamic and highly relevant social media feed that would complement and enhance the cities economic development activities by providing a content-driven output of high quality and quantity, driving up follower numbers and creating a communication medium for the cities growth ambitions. A medium attractive to and used by just the businesses that are hardest to acquire, all by using the mass of very local data that the city already had.

In this case, the city already had software systems providing the following:

  • Public Sector Contracting Opportunities
  • Commercial property for sale or rent
  • Planning Portal

Each of these systems was based upon a search model which in effect limits users to those with the time, resources and desire to learn how to use the system and return at regular intervals. Our research on Public Sector Tendering systems supports this view. In short, such tools are limited regarding their visibility – even for those who might be interested in accessing their content. (See our Blog Post on Small and Medium-sized Businesses applying for public sector contracts).

From our resources, we could develop a directory of all of the businesses in the City who made use of social media – Twitter in particular. We could also provide a feed of all of the companies setting up in the area and changes in business properties affecting rateable value.

We proposed combining these data sources into a system that can deliver highly relevant business news; new companies, new locations, new planning applications, new tenants, new vacant properties, and contracting opportunities giving a stream of branded, informative and relevant twitter material – automatically. Therefore allowing a local authority to cost-effectively support its business community with useful news and information.  Content-based marketing is the future of social media marketing tools, and this requires a constant stream of high quality, attractive – to the target audience – timely, information.

We can provide such a feed and by doing so help increase and maintain interest in and support dialogue about business development in a city or region.

Content-Based Twitter Marketing for Local Authorities:

  • City news
  • Selected business oriented re-tweets from Government Agencies and private companies.
  • Highly local data
  • Planning applications
  • New Businesses
  • New Properties for rent or sale
  • Change of use
  • New Tendering opportunities

These data streams when turned into a social media feed provide a regular supply of hyperlocal information that is very easy to access and relevant. This means that when necessary the feed can be used for direct communication because the feed will enjoy greater penetration on a more regular basis than could ever be produced by a search model or curating a much less interesting feed as is the case today.

Sample Automated Tweet:

To discuss the ideas presented in this article please click here.