Social media, specifically Facebook, has become standard operating procedure for most downtowns. It's a fantastic way to get the word out and receive instant feedback. Have you ever wondered why some towns have thousands of fans, while others are struggling in the hundreds? It has nothing to do with population or the size of your marketing budget. Here are a few ways to gauge the success of your Facebook Page.
Do you know your audience? It's not just your city's residents, nor is it a majority of your downtown businesses. It is a cross section of both, plus visitors, former residents and general fans of your town. So think about your audience when you're posting. Don't make your posts specific to one group. If you want to communicate something specific to your merchants, use a different avenue, like an e-newsletter or go old school and distribute flyers. If posts don't have wide appeal, you will turn off your audience. It limits their opportunity to respond and interact with your content. Always remember, it's supposed to be "social" media, and that never means one-way communication.
Are you consistent in your posts? It's like having a great first date, then the guy waits three weeks to call. Any kind of relationship that you formed is now fractured. It's not enough to get someone to click the like button on your page. You need to provide engaging content that not only reinforces their choice to see what you are posting, but to develop advocates and supporters who will share your page and posts with their friends. How much is enough? Test the waters, posting once a day, three days per week. Experiment with different kinds of posts to see where you get the greatest response. Whatever you are posting, always ask yourself why this would be valuable or interesting to your fans.
Are your posts original? If you are truly a fan of your downtown, then this should come naturally. Realize that most people seeing your posts are not necessarily coming downtown every day. Posting newspaper articles or announcing new businesses is fine, but neither happens with enough frequency to sustain an effective Facebook presence. And you don't want your page to be populated with recycled information that could be found elsewhere. Take a few minutes to walk down the street and get photos of a new business under construction, or some new merchandise being put in a downtown window. Or rotate featuring different business as the Facebook Page of the Day. And whatever you do, avoid the generic Shop Downtown (insert your town name here) posts. If your posts are genuine, you will drive home that message without actually saying it.
Like anything, Facebook will only produce results based on the effort you put forth. Focus on original content that is both informational and engaging. Having a page is a good start, but only through a consistent, authentic effort will you find success.
The Downtown Geek