We’re telling our story! We upped our social media game and share our mission and values at every ribbon cutting LIVE on our Facebook page. We have a Navigator champion – you may know them as Ambassadors – who tells our story everywhere he goes. He not only communicates historical facts about the Galveston Chamber but the value the chamber has brought his business which helps to keep our brand relevant. We also conducted a strategic session this year and created a five-year plan. To receive total buy-in, the staff set tactics for goal achievement and our stakeholders set long-term priorities and developed plans to achieve them. We use a variety of communication channels to distribute updates including newsletters, social media, quarterly meetings, and a video annual report.
We believe our member-investors are our best spokespersons, so we continue to roll out and enhance our Global Ambassadors program that prepares and challenges our board members to promote Irving and the chamber at every opportunity. The program, a partnership with the city, convention and visitors bureau, Las Colinas Association, school district and arts includes training and a communication speaker’s guidebook filled with key messaging, facts, anecdotes and communication techniques for promoting the chamber as well as Irving as a business hub and a great place to live, work and play. The goal is to equip community leaders with tools to ensure powerful messages, consistency and effectiveness in telling the Irving-Las Colinas story.
The most impactful thing the Indy Chamber has done over the last year, from a communications perspective, has been returning to the basics: strategically submitting op-eds to local and national publications on relevant and trending topics. These opportunities help us make the business case for everything from inclusive economic growth to public health and give us a platform to highlight our members as the subject matter experts and civic leaders they are. This content can then be repurposed on our website, in newsletters and on our social media platforms. As the voice of the business community, it doesn’t serve our staff or our members to stay silent on things that affect business and talent.
Our highly successful Love, Little Rock campaign is a great example of how we were able to communicate our vision and priorities for our region to the entire nation. Rather than pursuing an opportunity that wasn’t a good fit, our tongue-in-cheek “breakup letter” to Amazon, beginning with the now-famous line “It’s not you, it’s us,” allowed us to celebrate the city’s resources and benefits with site selectors and C-suite executives alike. Starting with a full-page ad in the Washington Post, owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, on the RFP deadline, “Love, Little Rock” has since been featured or mentioned in over 1,000 pieces of print, online and broadcast news coverage totaling more than one billion potential impressions.
We develop and distribute a monthly recap video entitled “Your Membership Investment Matters.” In the video, I speak directly to members about the successes, programs, events and initiatives which have taken place over the previous weeks in our four areas of strategic focus. I always tether the message back to how we can do all of this because of their investment in chamber membership. I emphasize how our activities and programs increase opportunities for member businesses and how they strengthen local economic growth, even if the member is not able to attend or participate directly.
As Utah’s largest and longest-standing business association, the Salt Lake Chamber has members in all 29 counties of the state. With so many ways members and their businesses can get involved, we found that we needed a one-stop guide for all of our programs, committees and events. Sure, this pamphlet may seem over-simplified, but we’ve found that both our board members and our sales team utilize it as a quick tool that highlights the Chamber’s broad-influence and impact on Utah’s business community.
Last year, in 2018 we developed and implemented a content strategy that allowed us to more thoughtfully communicate our chamber’s work. We centered the strategy around our main engagement pathways (and some of the primary reasons members join the chamber): community, career, connections and commerce. We believe that if we can speak on topics relevant to members, then we have a greater opportunity of having them understand and value our mission and priorities. Alongside the strategy, we created a content calendar that allows us to identify what is happening in our chamber and in our community as well as curate content that aligns with our four pathways. Our goal in 2019 is to refine the strategy and implement more targeted outreaches.
The Fort Collins Area Chamber initiated a Bringing Business Home campaign (BringingBusinessHome.org) to emphasize the importance of business to a strong quality of life. By featuring chamber members who contribute at their job, in their neighborhoods and in the community, we can connect to our mission: “proactively empower[ing] business people to build a community where business can thrive and citizens are proud to live.” The campaign also contributes to the Bold Voice of Business initiative, which is part of the chamber’s five-year strategic Northern Colorado Prospers (NorthernColoradoProspers.com) campaign. Through this initiative we aim to serve as the voice of business to advocate the perspective of business. We also ensure that public officials and residents
People like to use services or products that come recommended by their peers. As a result, we’ve seen the rise of “influencers” who are instrumental in providing testimonials on various social media channels where our member-investors are (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).
Additionally, chambers should be utilizing digital marketing and metric information to provide better outreach to member-investors. By collecting who is viewing our web pages and how long they stay, we are able to conduct individual outreach for membership or economic development opportunities.
With today’s younger generation and emerging technology raising the bar for the customer experience, the Galveston Regional Chamber closely monitors social media and digital advertising through different media channels, including online newspapers, digital billboards and social media advertising. To ensure our brand stands out, we are adding more visual communications like graphics and videos. Each of our events and programs consists of a different audience, so we use targeted advertisements for each event via social media and/or GEO fencing to attract customers and create a personalized experience. As a result, 2018 was our most successful year for events!
Chambers of commerce are often seen as the cheerleaders for their communities, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong in fulfilling this role, sometimes a community’s challenges are downplayed or overlooked in content and conversation. Over the last few years, the Indy Chamber has not shied away from discussing difficult topics affecting our region, shifting the narrative from roadblocks to opportunities for all in our community to succeed. I suspect more regions will adopt a similar mindset in 2019.
If Facebook has been the focus of your social media efforts in the past, as it has been for us, you’ve probably noticed an alarming decline in engagement. This is due to a change in Facebook’s algorithms – giving posts from Friends higher value than brands or pages. With that in mind, we advise giving more attention to other social media channels and marketing methods to deliver your message. Consider trying social messaging – particularly to engage millennials – through SMS messaging for a personal touch.
To stay abreast to changes and innovatively communicate to our stakeholders, we have invested in social media training for our entire staff. By training our team to improve their technical skills and to engage everyone more directly in the development of strategic messaging and content for social channels.
To really see the value in our shared and earned media as well as our various campaigns, such as the Clear the Air Challenge, Tax Modernization and tackling the Housing GAP, the Salt Lake Chamber felt it was time to once again invest in media monitoring services. We now have the ability to not only track our mentions, but also see how our well our campaigns are performing. The reporting makes it easy to show our executives and board members the impact of our marketing efforts.
Communications need to be relatable and personal, utilizing storytelling as a powerful tool. Stories should be more emotional and customized so that we are connecting to build trust, which will enhance engagement. Examples of this include using member influencers to amplify and elevate your voice, replacing traditional press releases with conversations and appealing narratives, nontraditional social media chancels such as Instagram and Snapchat and using market research to develop relevant content.
Short videos or live/raw feed on social platforms will continue to attract younger generations who are entering the workforce. However, be on the lookout for print media to make a comeback. Audiences may prefer to receive a printed magazine, physical flyer or mailer to avoid engaging online due to fears of personal information being stolen or other cybersecurity threats.
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