Four Ways to Use Social Media in Your Place Marketing

Competitive places have nothing less than a significant online presence. As noted in our recent “Why They Moved” study, an increasing number of people are using the internet and social media to make decisions, including where they might relocate. It’s critical that when they Google you, or visit your Facebook page, you have interactive and engaging content that enables them to envision themselves living in your community. 

With millions of users – and potential relocators – on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and even TikTok, social media is a digital marketplace that should be seen as an effective tool for places to tell their stories and shape their images. 

Whether you’re looking to attract new residents, diversify your economy or change the narrative of your place, adopting the right strategy on social media to help achieve those goals is critical. No matter your approach, every place can incorporate a variety of content onto its social media channels to increase following, engagement and awareness on what you offer.

In our two decades of community branding and marketing experience across the country, we’ve identified a multitude of ways communities and destinations have successfully leveraged social media. Below are just four examples to help get you started. 

1. Collaborate with Social Media Influencers

Social media influencers build their brand platforms around being authentic and trustworthy sources of information for their followers. More than anything, collaborating with influencers can help build third-party credibility for your community. Social media influencers can help create more brand awareness and exposure for your destination, especially when collaborating with someone that has already established a following in your target audience. 

Our friends in Fargo, North Dakota are a great example of a destination partnering with social media influencers to help promote their destination.  As part of their  social media strategy, the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau  sponsored and hosted  several travel and lifestyle influencers from across the country, allowing them to experience the destination. In return, the influencers curated blog posts and social media content that included a recap of their adventures or travel guide of the destination. 

After the content was published on each influencer’s platform, Fargo then shared the content to their social media channels for their followers and pager viewers to see.


2. Host Social Media Contests 

Social media contests are a great way to create buzz and engagement on your channels and help increase your reach and followers. Social media contests can range from requesting people to follow your page, to tag, like and comment on your social media post, or encouraging users to submit photos or content of their own to be entered to win a prize. Overall, it is a fun and engaging way for audiences to get involved with your brand, helping build community and brand awareness and encouraging new audiences to follow you.

To help spark an idea for your community, check out this contest created by the City of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. As part of a health and wellness initiative, Mayor Paul TenHaken encouraged residents to get outside, be active, and take advantage of the City’s abundance of outdoor spaces by participating in the Mayor’s Fitness Challenge. Residents could then share photos and videos of their journeys on social media using the hashtag #100Miles100DaysSF. 

By sharing their content on social media, residents were automatically enrolled in the challenge and eligible to win a prize. As a result of the content posted by participants, the city was able to accumulate a bank of user-generated content to help promote its destination as an outdoor recreation hub that was a fun and unique place to live, work and visit.

3. Create Engaging Social Graphics that Incorporate Your Brand Story  

Creating social media content that incorporates your community’s brand story and is relevant to current events, community initiatives and holidays can help connect your followers with your brand in a unique way. 

For example, Johnson City, Tennessee integrated its “Go All Out” tagline into social media graphics for the Fourth of July, Halloween, COVID-19 education and outreach and a variety of other city initiatives. These graphics kept the city’s branding top-of-mind by leaning into their brand story and messaging while also working to get a bigger message across to their audience.


4. Develop a Content Series

Creating a content series on social media gives you an opportunity to share stories that demonstrate the fabric and attractiveness of your community from the people who know you the most, your residents. Whether it’s weekly, monthly or quarterly, creating a specific posting cadence for an ongoing series can boost engagement among your audience as they build anticipation for future posts. Additionally, these series will help you maintain a consistent posting schedule and provide you with a healthy dose of content.

The opportunities are truly limitless when it comes to developing a content series. Some communities create a “Taste of the Town” series where local restaurants and bars can be  featured. Other communities spotlight residents or municipality employees to showcase stories and experiences from individuals that make up their community. 

No matter your strategy, a content series can serve as an engaging and creative approach to showcasing the strengths, stories, personalities and opportunities that your community has to offer. 

These social media content ideas will help boost reach and engagement on your channels, but don’t forget: social media is only one instrument within the larger toolbox. A powerful brand and story is the engine to your success. Let’s get to building it and telling it together.