FLAGLR COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY – SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLBOX
In the pursuit of economic development, there are few quick fixes. But Flagler County’s Department of Economic Opportunity did the next best thing.In the pursuit of economic development, there are few quick fixes. But Flagler County’s Department of Economic Opportunity did the next best thing.
Looking to engage a younger demographic — and market the county’s efforts to expand its trained workforce and attract new business development — the county agency recently held an Instagram photo contest.
“We were trying to do this to get the word out about Flagler County,” said Katrina Austin, project manager at the county Department of Economic Opportunity. “It is the first step in a workforce development campaign.”
It appears that first step was more like a leap forward after the contest attracted 295 entries.
“We really didn’t know what to expect,” Austin said.
At first blush, the idea of using social media and information technology to engage a younger demographic would seem to be the very definition of thinking outside the box.
But it really is thinking inside the box: The tool box.
With more than 100,000 residents, Flagler County is still one of the smaller of Florida’s 67 counties. Nestled between larger, more well-known markets in Jacksonville, Orlando and Daytona Beach, county officials have worked to implement an economic development program that can compete regionally and beyond.
While being smaller might make Flagler County a bit nimbler when it comes to crafting and implementing an economic development program, it also means it has to be a lot leaner. With a smaller tax base, exploring the range of available digital options is bottom-line thinking.
Reaching out to the limitless landscape of mobile technology, Flagler County DEO staff are using modern tools to do the job. By doing so, expanding that box to give the county a better chance to catch the eye — and pocketbook — of business owners looking to expand or relocate.
The deadline for contest entries was Aug. 8 and winners will be announced Aug. 22. Winning photos will be displayed on the flaglercountyedc.com website as well as Twitter and Instagram pages. Some may also be used on advertising materials, Austin said.
Austin said the photos will be sorted into categories outlined in the contest rules. The agency used a grant from CareerSource to fund the contest.
“We had to have to have letters of support from members of the community” to get the grant, Austin said. “Those people are all the judges.”
The entries will be narrowed to three per category before winners are selected, Austin said.
While the process of categorizing the 295 entries might seem daunting, the exercise will have some practical benefit for the economic development agency.
“You have to identify your target audience, and then identify what tools they are using and add those tools to your toolbox,” Austin said.
With more contests planned, it appears the world will soon have Flagler County in the palm of its hands.