By Karen Rosenzweig
I have a dream. Yes, I know Martin Luther King Day is not until next week. And no, I’m not channeling Dr. Martin Luther King!
What I’m having is a dream that Edmonds could become a model for small-town connectivity through social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs. Imagine a world where all our retailers, restaurants and other small business owners used these tools often and effectively, along with those of us playing at home.
And don’t tell me that “only old folks live in Edmonds” and that they don’t own computers; according to U.S. census, only 16 percent of the Edmonds population is 65 years or older. Among our 40,000 residents, we have plenty of people and businesses that fit right into the typical social media user profile, and we’re gaining more every day. Just look at the nearest Apple store or cell phone retailer!
As a small town in the shadow of a very big one (Seattle), Edmonds always strives to keep shoppers and diners in the community – and this can be accomplished through social media. But in addition to those marketing goals, an article I recently read noted four other reasons a small town should care about social media: 1) To expand horizons, 2) To connect with vendors and other businesses, 3) To learn, and 4) To feel connected. Wouldn’t you agree we care about all of these things in Edmonds?!
As a social media consultant, my dream features Twitter, Facebook and blogging as perfect tools for a town such as ours that depends on buying local, community support and tourist commerce. These online platforms not only will help keep business here in Edmonds, but they can attract new customers and keep some from taking their dollars to Seattle or other neighboring cities!
Social media is an effective way for businesses not only to collaborate and cross-promote, but to stay in touch with residents, get feedback from consumers, solicit support, and earn loyalty. You could also say that Twitter and Facebook represent a form of “electronic water cooler” where we gather to talk about the day’s news and gossip. And some of us can never get enough of that!
I think everyone longs to live in a “Cheers” environment (remember that old show on TV?) where everyone knows your name. I know many think Edmonds already has achieved that to some degree, but social media can allow that bond to become even stronger, along with pulling in new friends and fans.
How cool would it be during “Third Thursday Art Walk” if ALL the shops were on Twitter and Facebook early in the day, promoting what artists they were featuring that night? And what if ALL our restaurants/bars shared updated info on special deals for you to partake of while you’re out shopping that night? And what if you could read real-time messages from other locals who just scored a great deal at one of the shops downtown, so you could rush over and “get one” too?
This is just one example of the great benefits of social media and being connected with your community. I have a dream, and while I know it’s not reality yet, I truly believe Edmonds is capable of becoming a model case-study for small town connectivity. Let’s get started!
Edmonds resident Karen Rosenzweig is a social media consultant/trainer and owner of One Smart Cookie Marketing. She writes weekly about how companies, entrepreneurs and restaurants can increase their customer base and gain visibility through Twitter, Facebook, blogging and other social media tools.