News & Views

Stories: A New Way to Market Places on Social Media

If there is one tried-true-technique in any marketer’s tool kit, it’s the power of storytelling. For decades companies have been captivating large audiences with stories, taking them on journeys, following characters and ultimately accomplishing their goal: to leave consumers wanting more.

For those in the economic development world, storytelling can be a little bit more complex. Whether you’re trying to attract new talent, generate business leads or connect with your community, the story you’re telling is your place. The characters in your story are the people who live there, and they have many different points of view. This begs the question – how can cities tell their stories with a variety of perspectives? Social media gives us ways to do this, specifically through Snapchat and Instagram.

Snapchat Did it First, Instagram Did it Better 

Choose ATL

In October of 2013, Snapchat introduced Stories. The new app feature allowed accounts to post pictures and videos to their followers’ Snapchat newsfeed, remaining visible for 24 hours. Not long after the success of Snapchat Stories, Instagram adopted the concept and added their own twists, such as location tagging, interactive polling and a wider variety of captioning tools.

According to an article published in Forbes, Instagram stories have since surpassed Snapchat stories in popularity, generating more than 200 million posts per day, while Snapchat only sees 160 million posts. Both individuals and businesses typically have more followers on Instagram than on Snapchat, so a shift naturally occurred in the preference for Instagram stories because the reach was simply more valuable.

Economic Developers Join the Fun

Instagram is a popular platform for economic development organizations to promote talent attraction assets, and Instagram stories, specifically, are a great way to stay on the top of your followers’ minds and produce timely content without crowding newsfeeds. For example, Choose Atlanta (15.2K followers) used their Instagram story to promote the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film with a photo of Rihanna’s Met Gala Gown. The post is dynamic, relevant and shows off an interesting place in the city.

Other creative ways Instagram stories are being utilized by EDOs include local influencer takeovers (allowing them to post on your account for a day), sharing screenshots of articles and mobile content you support (links can be included) and posting day-in-the-life videos of local popular businesses.

Snapchat Maps Out New Features

Though the popularity of Snapchat stories took a hit after Instagram adopted the concept, they haven’t given up quite yet. Cue “Our Story,” one of the newest features of Snapchat that is literally putting them on the map. This new feature allows users to upload a quick video sorted by their location. Then, anyone can go on the map feature and move their finger around the globe until they see a city they’re interested in. If there’s a big event or popular attraction where people are uploading videos, such as the Guinness Storehouse, they will also have their own story to view.

Why is this Important for Economic Development Marketers?

Users can look at a map of the world and view content from any place they want to learn more about. Curious what people are up to in Reykjavik today? How about Hong Kong? Anywhere this new feature of Snapchat is used becomes globally accessible, putting small towns and big cities on the map. Though there’s no direct way organizations can utilize this new feature (yet), it is an exciting evolution in social media to keep an eye on, and an indication that people are hungry for stories about places. It is a valuable tool for young residents to show-off your location as a great place to live and work to other young professionals worldwide.

Snapchat and Instagram are always ahead of the game, coming up with easier ways to communicate and promote places organically through social media.  If you’re an economic developer, be sure to keep your eyes on these social media innovators – they’re always surprising us.

What’s your experience using stories? Tweet us your thoughts at @aboutdci!


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