Meredith Wathne, MSUM Multimedia Journalism and Integrated Advertising/Public Relations Major
Google recently named Fargo one of the Top 50 digital cities in the country for the full-bodied use of technology and social media in various businesses around town. Many of the cities boutiques, specialty shops, eateries and bars all utilize the power of digital reach whether it’s through social media or a website.
According to Google, 97 percent of Internet users turn to a brands website or social media page for products, specials or company information. The criteria Google used while selecting the honorees across the country are having a website, mobile accessibility and having a blog or social media profiles.
Why do businesses need social media?
Social Media has become a one of the most important aspects of many company’s business plans, especially those targeting young people. But simply having a profile on one of the various platforms isn’t enough. One wants to follow a site that is engaging, posts often and has a fair amount of followers to validate the page as a whole.
As the world is advancing in the information age, so are social media sites. Now, more than ever, young people have instant access to friends, family, brands, products, location updates and naturally, talking positively or negatively about an experience. In order to target the younger generations, brands need to have a strong social media presence, or many will not give the business a second look.
How to become a social media leader
In order to be viewed as a social media leader throughout the city of Fargo, I came up with a small criteria list of my own; businesses must have a presence across multiple platforms, have a large number of followers, post frequently, post relevant and engaging content and have a positive digital reputation.
Local businesses prevailing in social media (in no particular order):
In the last couple years, many boutiques have popped up downtown, giving Fargo shoppers different options and experiences than the average mall offers. Lot 2029, located at 612 Main Avenue, quickly became an addition to every trendy female’s closet, largely due to its social media presence.
Lot 2029 does a great job of keeping customers updated and engaged on their social media sites. They commonly post fashion tips, photos of new arrivals and sale items and promotional information.
Kittson, located at 610 Main Avenue, is another boutique that recently found itself in downtown Fargo, and it quickly built a large fan base for its atmosphere and fashionable products.
Kittson engages with customers everyday through its social platforms, always keeping themselves in the back of customer’s minds, creating a desire to come check out the latest products.
The Old Broadway at 22 Broadway has social media pages that contain updates on both the grill and the bar. These pages appeal to many college students in the area that are looking for drink and meal specials, especially on the weekends.
Not only are specials posted on the sites, but also relevant or interesting content, such as fill in the blanks about a recent viral video, or “who do you have winning?” the big football game the coming weekend.
The Old Broadway has a great digital presence and it’s likely to continue growth at a steady pace.
Spicy Pie, located at 322 N. Broadway has nearly 10,000 Facebook fans, the most out of businesses downtown.
Spicy Pie not only offers great specials to customers, like discounts if you come to eat in a Halloween costume, but they also take on community outreach initiatives. During the month of October, Spicy Pie donated $0.10 per slice of pizza and $0.50 per pizza sold to the Roger Maris Cancer Center for breast cancer awareness month.
Along with tweets about Pizza of the Month and specials happening that day, Spicy Pie is also good at retweeting followers and participating in a conversation. Nothing makes a customer feel better than being retweeted or replied to from a brand.
The Fargo Theatre is a staple of the Fargo community. In the heart of downtown at 314 Broadway, the intricate interior and classic flashing Fargo sign is one some the most memorable imagery in the state. It’s no wonder they are reaching more than 7,000 fans on social media.
The Fargo Theatre hosts live comedians, concerts, movies and other events, drawing in an eclectic crowd. Posts include graphics and information about upcoming shows, but usually include a question or promotional incentive, which typically draws comments and conversations.
The Fargo Theatre’s Twitter page offers similar updates as Facebook, making sure patrons are always in the loop for upcoming shows and deals.
Recognizing the importance of social media
Social media is relatively new from a marketing and promotional standpoint. In the last five years, multiple businesses have seen the importance of switching from traditional, costly advertising to the digital age.
“It’s a great way to advertise with low cost, and we are reaching thousands of possible clients with in matter a minutes,” said Nate Johnston, assistant general manger at the Old Broadway.
“We run a lot of promotions, so sometimes it’s tough to say how much it brings in,” Johnston said. “But we do a lot of contests on social media and always have good results, so overall yes it helps.”
Emily Beck, executive director at the Fargo Theatre agrees that social media is helping their business. Their audience size has grown, advertising dollars decreased and new equipment funds were raised.
“I think social media has been a tremendous asset to the Fargo Theatre,” Beck said. “It gives us a unique way to connect with our audience members and supporters on a daily basis. Earlier this year, we completed a capital campaign to purchase digital projection equipment. A portion of the funds raised came from donors contacted through social media.”
What the public is saying
Customers both at Kittson and Lot 2029 use social media to decide whether or not it’s worth it to make the trip downtown when new arrivals come in.
“I like to not waste a trip. If I see it then I can go get it,” said Kary Sandy of Fargo.
Lea Hanson echoed Sandy and likes to follow Lot 2029 on both Facebook and Twitter because they post a lot of new products and outfit ideas. She also said she follows other downtown brands on Facebook like Proper and Prim.
Many follow Old Broadway and Spicy Pie to learn about dinner specials and flavors being offered.
“I follow Spicy Pie to learn about their pizza of the month,” said Max Morlock of Fargo.
Social media influence continues to grow
The way information is shared and promoted has changed drastically with the development of social media, and the advancements are only going to continue. It’s great to see so many businesses on board, but there are still several that need to step up their efforts, or they will become obsolete.
(Edited by Brittany Thompson, MSUM Print Journalism and Public Relations)