Breaking news, bold statements, and fiery debate. That is what Twitter has been used for in the past. But now cities and businesses are starting to use Twitter as a real-time platform that can be leveraged for economic growth. Just look at what has happened with Detroit, which is using Twitter to connect with technologists like start-ups and developers looking to work in Detroit.
The Detroit Mayor released a plea to the city's Twitter followers using the hashtag #cdevbuzz to connect with developers and technologists willing to work in Detroit. The result was an overwhelming response of positive responses. The city has since adopted Twitter as a formal communication channel towards economic growth.
The Mayor's actions are not uncommon. Cities across Canada have adopted similar methods when implementing their economic development strategies, especially in regards to attracting start-ups and technology hub development. Cities like Edmonton have been utilizing this method since 2011 when the Mayor tweeted:
On the subject of tweets to bring in technology talent for economic development, here is a tweet from the @aucklandcity twitter handle saying: Auckland City Council is a great place to live, work and visit. One of the best in the world!
This year, hundreds of cities are expected to adopt this new method to promote growth. This is not just happening in Canada, but also major cities around the world such as London and Rome. The big difference between Twitter and other social media platforms is that on Twitter there is a lot more interaction. On Facebook or LinkedIn for example, you can view posts but it is not as interactive. On Twitter, interactions such as replies and retweets are the norm. Also, because it is easier to follow a hashtag with a lot of users, this makes it easy to interact and reach out to many people in real-time.
The main reason for cities experimenting with social media for economic development is because of the success that has come from Detroit. The city has used Twitter to connect with developers and start-ups and has led to the creation of an entire IT movement. Now, entrepreneurs are creating new companies that can lead to economic growth. If this happens in Detroit and other cities, then it may be a matter of time before other cities follow suit.
Thunder Bay is currently experimenting with social media for economic development in a different way. The City of Thunder Bay has a Twitter handle but it is being used to showcase events and news, but there is potential to use it for other purposes. The City can utilize the handle to connect with high-tech companies in Toronto or Ottawa through Twitter. This method may not be enough, but with more time and resources, the City could integrate a special hashtag that allows users to connect for economic development.
I believe that Thunder Bay should utilize Twitter more as a resource for economic development to attract new investment and businesses. We should encourage our local businesses to continue growing through social media and marketing, as well as continue using the city-wide hashtag of #tbay, #digitaltbay, and so on.
There is a lot of potential for the city of Thunder Bay to be seen as one of Canada’s fastest-growing cities. It does have several features that make it easy for people to start their businesses, and there is a lot of potentials to grow in many areas. For this to happen, we need to take more advantage of social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. There is also an opportunity for our Mayor or one of the Councilors to be on Twitter as a way to connect with local businesses even more. We could even copy what Detroit is doing and create a hashtag for the region such as #tbaytech. We are severely short of IT workers here in the region and Twitter is a great way to attract talent.
If social media was implemented into our city's economic development strategy it would be easier to promote growth in new tech companies and start-ups. This would also attract people from all over Canada to come to our region. By adopting these new strategies for economic development, we can ensure Thunder Bay's future economic growth and success.
To conclude, I believe that by implementing social media for economic development we can create a more tech-savvy city. This would also help attract new business to Thunder Bay and attract young people to our city.