Here at Hue & Tone Creative, we love working on projects that contribute to a sense of place – especially if that place is our hometown of Greensboro, NC.
Throughout our work with spaces like Revolution Mill, we’ve developed an interest in all things placemaking, economic development, and real estate related. Whether you’re a marketing generalist or, like us, you strive to take on more economic development projects, we believe placemaking is a concept every marketer should be familiar with. The methods used in effective placemaking can be applied to a number of campaigns across a wide range of industries.
The Project for Public Spaces (PPS) defines placemaking as “a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value. More than just promoting better urban design, placemaking facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.”
Placemaking is all about creating spaces and places that people want to be – places where citizens feel comfortable living, learning, working, and playing. These places are people friendly, visually interesting, accessible, and memorable.
Robert Steuteville, editor of Public Square: A CNU Journal, argues that a Quality Place possesses the following features:
A mix of uses
Effective public spaces
Multiple transportation options
Multiple housing options
Preservation of historic structure
Respect community heritage
Arts, culture, and creativity
Quiet, unless they are designed to be otherwise
Now that you know what placemaking is, it’s time to figure out how to marry your social media strategy with more traditional placemaking efforts. That’s called Digital Placemaking – and PPS defines it as “the integration of social media into Placemaking practices, which are community-centered, encouraging public participation, collaboration, and transparency.”
As you start to incorporate social media into your placemaking efforts, here’s 5 ideas you can use as a springboard for your brainstorming:
1. Use social to amplify temporary placemaking efforts
Temporary placemaking is the bootstrap version of true placemaking – and it’s perfect for activating areas people perceive as unsafe. It allows you to experiment with a variety of ideas on a smaller scale, and then grow what worked.
Good examples of this are an interactive art project, an activity or game, or an event. Even something small like an Instagram-able mural or photo background can help transform an otherwise unused wall.
Once you have your project in place, set up a hashtag and a sign or photobooth that will encourage people to use and share their experience.
2. Use social media to establish your city/space as a tastemaker
Instead of hiring influencers, it’s time to set your own trends -- start utilizing your social accounts to amplify your subject matter expertise. That means using your accounts to show off your expert knowledge about a place – Where do you get the best Pho? What boutique do visitors need to check out? What downtown city corner has an incredible history?
Answer those questions for your followers and you won’t have to hire someone to show off what’s cool about your city or space.
Hashtagging properly and regularly interacting with followers will help activate people who already live in your city -- and long term you’ll be enticing new people to visit your neck of the woods.
3. Establish transparency using open source data
Did you know City of Greensboro does a good job of making public data available? Their open data program, “Open Gate City” was launched in 2016 to facilitate transparency, promote community engagement, and stimulate innovation. Open Gate City is a collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies' "What Works Cities Initiative."
The idea behind open data is that data should be readily and freely available to the general public to use and republish as they wish. Additionally, the idea of open government means that access to government documents and proceedings allows for effective public oversight and protects against extensive state secrecy.
City governments and public agencies can leverage open data to help build positive relationships with the public. In addition to building general good will, these open data efforts are a treasure trove of potential content for municipal marketing efforts.
4. Create a hashtag campaign that encourages citizens to share their views
Create a unique hashtag and use it as the central sharing point of your campaign. Embed the hashtag across all your touchpoints – social, web copy, print collateral, direct mail, email advertising, and online ads -- and encourage people to use it when they’re talking about your campaign (or your city).
Don’t just sit behind your screen though! Hit the streets with merchandise, handouts, spray paint, or banners, and get to know the people you’re targeting. In-person marketing efforts are sure to connect with a new group, not just the same old group of active users that are constantly retweeting you.
5. Use social media channels as a tool for crowdsourcing data
With its exponential reach, social media is an incredibly powerful - and free - tool for crowdsourcing. If you’re stumped on what the public wants to see in a space, use social media to start running polls, start discussions, or gather feedback.
The insights you gain can then be built into future stages of your placemaking campaign!
Hue & Tone Creative: Your placemaking partner
Ready to brainstorm some fresh ideas? Or, maybe you just need the creative muscle to execute your ideas? Let’s talk and see if we make a good fit: 336-365-8559.