How an Arizona Town Uses Its Website and Facebook to Promote Local Businesses

QueenCreek.org

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Queen Creek serves as the lead cheerleader for its local businesses.

In many cities, it’s not uncommon for a business improvement district or a Main Street organization to be the primary cheerleaders for the local business community. Their websites are used as a platform for commercial listings and local business news. In places that don’t have those types of groups, the local Chamber of Commerce might take a leading role.

And while the town of Queen Creek, Arizona, works closely with its local Chamber of Commerce to strengthen the local economic environment, the town itself—located on the far southeastern fringe of the Phoenix metropolitan area—is using its website and social media channels as way to successfully promote local business.

Local businesses are “pretty limited in being able to getting the word out,” Jennifer Snyder, Queen Creek’s digital media specialist, said in an interview. It’s unlikely they’re going to advertise in The Arizona Republic, the Phoenix area’s leading newspaper, she said, since it caters to a much wider audience.

“Our social media pages are our media,” Snyder said. “That’s where our residents go to see what’s going on.”

Queen Creek has a population of 33,000 residents. More importantly, the town has more than 6,400 likes on Facebook, which is something that any jurisdiction of its size would envy. It’s a key way Queen Creek connects with its residents.

“We post about our local businesses,” Snyder said. “Our residents like hearing about our local businesses.”

Take, for instance, Queen Creek’s Facebook post from Nov. 26 promoting the Black Friday sale at Queen Creek Olive Mill, a local business that sells olive oil and other epicurean provisions. Or a Dec. 11 post promoting Rainbow Ryders Inc. Hot Air Balloon Co.

The city actively solicits local business news and developments. Before the start of the holiday shopping season, the city’s marketing coordinator asked local businesses to send in information about their holiday shopping specials. They ended up with 20 specials, Snyder said.

Facebook posts promoting those businesses might pop up amid other routine municipal news, like a county sheriff’s public safety committee meeting.

“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” Snyder said, noting how interest in local businesses can help draw eyeballs to news items that may not garner as much attention on their own.

Beyond social media, the town’s website doubles as a platform to promote local industry through the Shop QC program, a partnership between the town and the local Chamber of Commerce that includes 100 local businesses.

“It’s been a great program,” Snyder said.

Before the town’s website redesign went live in 2013, businesses in the Shop QC program had to fill out and submit a PDF form. Queen Creek’s new website, designed by Santa Monica, California-based Vision Internet, now hosts a simple online registration form on the town’s website. It’s free for businesses to register.

But Queen Creek’s website also serves as a type of municipal yellow pages for its area businesses. Those businesses, plus deals—some are mapped above—events and job listings, can be mapped via the website’s MapIt function.

While the town needs to periodically check that the business listings aren’t outdated, Queen Creek had one distinct advantage over a private-sector counterpart: “We just got a list from the [town’s] business license department,” Snyder said.