Public sector vs private sector social marketing
With all the talk of social media being the hidden secret to marketing. We’ve decided to look at the hard facts regarding the use of social networking in commercial marketing and see how they apply to a municipality.
First, we looked at the Social Media Marketing Report for 2011. This is a report that surveyed over 3300 marketers with the goal of understanding how marketers are using social media to grow and promote their businesses. Some of the major findings included:
- The top benefits of social media marketing: The number-one advantage of social media marketing (by a long shot) is generating more business exposure, as indicated by 88% of marketers. Increased traffic (72%) and improved search rankings (62%) were also major advantages.
- The top social media tools: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs were the top four social media tools used by marketers, in that order. Facebook has eclipsed Twitter to take the top spot since our 2010 study.
- Social media outsourcing underutilized: Only 28% of businesses are outsourcing some portion of their social media marketing.
- Marketers place high value on social media: A significant 90% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business.
- Measurement and integration are top areas marketers want to master: One third of all social media marketers want to know how to monitor and measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media and integrate their social media activities.
- Social media marketing takes a lot of time: The majority of marketers (58%) are using social media for 6 hours or more each week, and more than a third (34%) invest 11 or more hours weekly.
- Video marketing on the rise: A significant 77% of marketers plan on increasing their use of YouTube and video marketing, making it the top area marketers will invest in for 2011.
- Marketers seek to learn more about Facebook and blogging: 70% of marketers want to learn more about Facebook and 69% want to learn more about blogging.
These findings tell us that social media is an incredibly effective tool for commercial businesses that is underutilized. Perhaps the reason it is underutilized is that it takes between 6 and 11 hours each week to make an impact on a business.
So how does all this apply to municipalities?
Municipalities and similar government entities (counties, townships, etc.) all use taxes as their main revenue stream. Whether it is property, sales, or use taxes, this is how municipalities survive. Applying digital marketing with social media, as we noted above, creates exposure. Positive exposure for a municipality or city should result in more people wanting to live in that area. In the past, this type of exposure was gained through paper publications such as articles in major newspapers or magazines. Municipalities also relied, and still rely, on local and cable network stories to “hopefully” provide positive exposure when new developments or events occur. With social media, those tools are quickly becoming obsolete. The ability to create mass exposure regarding new developments, city government, and community events is something that can be controlled and monitored. The result is ultimately a municipality that draws in new residents, which in turn means an increase in tax revenues.
The results of Municipal Marketing with social media is not constrained just to an increase in property taxes. Proper use of city social media can create an increase in local business transactions. By featuring local businesses on high-traffic social media pages or websites, residents should be more apt to spend their money within city limits. Equally important is a municipality’s digital reputation. Monitoring the digital reputation of a city, especially its commercial district, is vital to keeping businesses flourishing. To have the sole review (or multiple reviews) of a municipality’s commercial district be a negative one can be a major deterrent to consumers. By monitoring and controlling the digital reputation through municipal social media, a positive consumer atmosphere can be achieved.
So in summary, the goal of social media marketing for commercial businesses and municipalities is one and the same – exposure. Where commercial businesses use exposure to drive sales, municipalities indirectly use this same type of exposure to increase the overall amount of taxes collected, which is their primary source of revenue. Municipal digital marketing is, just as commercial digital marketing is, severely underutilized. It is growing rapidly though and is being outsourced at a growing rate of almost 200% from last year. Cities, counties, and townships are missing the boat if they do not capitalize on this revolutionary new market. Don’t just survive – thrive.