Posted 2013 at by & in category Social Media.

The 2013 seasons opens to ‘in with the old and in with the new’ as Grand Rapids now boasts two outstanding farm markets. The Fulton Street Farmers Market, established in 1922, is the oldest, and the new Downtown Market, currently in its first phase, is slated to include an indoor food emporium, a sit-down restaurant, a brew-pub, demonstration and educational kitchens, a banquet facility.

If you’re a Grand Rapids foodie curious to find out what each market has to offer, you no longer have to wait for market days to show up. All you have to do now is go online.

When a new vendor recently came aboard, the Downtown Market announced their addition with a fun announcement video on their Facebook page. Mimi Fritz, Executive Director of the Downtown Market, states, “We see social media as part of our community building process. Social media platforms allow us to engage directly with the people who will be our patrons and create long-term relationships with them.” With the Downtown Market being new to Grand Rapids, Fritz sees the need to create as many ‘ambassadors’ and local enthusiasts as possible. States Fritz, “Posting images, news items and updates brings people along in the development, makes them stakeholders and allows them to take ownership of this addition to the community.”

Melissa Harrington, Market Manager for the Fulton Street Farmers Market says that their Facebook presence is invaluable. “As a non-profit, we don’t really have the funds for traditional advertising and we have to be very frugal. Facebook is a great cost-effective vehicle that helps us keep things up in real time and receive instant feedback,” states Harrington. After a recent cold snap, one fan posted there wasn’t any asparagus that particular day. Harrington made sure the post didn’t go unheeded and responded within minutes, “We anticipated more vegetables today. Asparagus took a bit of a hit with the freeze we had the other night, but vendors have assured me they will have it back at the market as soon as they can.” She hasn’t seen a lot of action on Twitter, primarily due to the imposed tweet limitation. “It’s hard to get a recipe in under 140 characters,” says Harrington.

Another major advantage in utilizing Facebook is the online presence it provides for the farmers and seasonal vendors. Harrington says most of their farmers don’t have time to dedicate to social media and some do not even have websites, so Facebook allows them to showcase their products and farm photos and they can communicate weekly offerings to fans. The Fulton Street Farmers Market also uses a community-driven website, TheRapidian.org, to publish a list of goods to its followers each Tuesday.

As the farm-to-table movement continues to surge, social media will make the farm-to-tablet trend beneficial for farmers, vendors and consumers. For more tasty tweets, follow the markets at @dtmarketgr and @fultonstmarket .

Posted 2013 at by & in category Media.

From Marketing Charts – while a recent survey found a majority believing that in 5 years, Americans will primarily listen to streaming radio versus traditional AM/FM radio, another study, this time from Clear Channel Media and Entertainment (CCM+E), begs to differ. According to the “State of Listening in America” study, 69% of respondents agree that “streaming services do not replace radio.” Other results from the survey suggest that radio is alive and well: 92% of respondents said they listen to radio at least once a week, while 71% say it’s part of their daily routine.

A recent report demonstrated that radio benefits from its ability to trigger emotional connections from listeners, and the latest study from CCM+E supports that finding. Specifically, 72% of respondents believe that radio feels more “human” than the internet, and 65% feel it is more “personal” than TV. Not only that, but two-thirds agree that their favorite station reflects who they are as a person. Those personal connections mean that 78% agree that radio can make a difference in the community and 72% feel that radio is more community-oriented than TV.

Other Findings:

• 8 in 10 respondents say radio is helpful in discovering new artists or songs, a finding that aligns with research from both Nielsen and Jacobs Media.

• Radio listeners prefer on-air ads that are creative and humorous and leverage on-air talent. (No big surprise here.)

• Respondents view radio ads more positively than ads on TV, the internet and mobile applications.

• 8 in 10 say the first thing they do when they get into their car is turn on the radio. (Is this before or after they turn the ignition key?)

• 78% say they can access radio anywhere, and 85% agree that radio has become more accessible.

Key findings for west Michigan advertisers to consider: Two-thirds of those surveyed agree that their favorite station reflects who they are as a person and in a brand loyal market it’s crucial to survey your customers to find out what they are listening to. Also, respondents have a more positive connection with radio messaging than TV or the internet, so develop strategic creative and potentially tie in station talent endorsements to maximize your budget.

About the Data: The data is based on a survey of more than 1,000 respondents, conducted by Latitude Research and OpenMind.
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Posted 2013 at by & in category Grand Rapids Michigan Business.

Forbes Magazine recently named Grand Rapids, Michigan as one of the top 10 U.S. cities to find employment. The ranking was based on variables including the diversity of industries in each city, cost of living, size range of companies offering employment and resident level of education. The information that Forbes used specific to Grand Rapids includes:

– Overall Unemployment: 6.6% (February 2013)
– Top Industries Hiring: Healthcare, Financial Services, Skilled Labor, Education, IT, Engineering
– Skills/Jobs in Demand: Information Specialists, Manufacturing, Administrative, Skilled Laborers

The list was compiled by employee solutions company Adecco and puts Grand Rapids fourth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in the Grand Rapids/Wyoming area is now at 6.6% and has been as low as 5.5% in the last six months. Just as of March, the Grand Rapids/Wyoming metro area had the largest population growth among Michigan metros according to new census data.

“The downtown economy is flourishing and this is bringing a lot of growth to surrounding areas as well,” states Amy Marshall, Managing Partner at Grand Rapids-based staffing solution company Management Business Solutions. Marshall says her firm has seen growth in a variety of industries in the last year including engineering, IT, and healthcare and other areas such as marketing, human resources and manufacturing. “We hope to see the trend continue as Grand Rapids continues to grow and truly be the heart of West Michigan, states Marshall.”

Shannon Burkel, Vice President of Sales for Axios Incorporated, a locally owned, privately held organization headquartered in Grand Rapids, is not surprised by the Forbes selection. “Our company helped 1,473 west Michigan employees land permanent employment in 2012,” states Burkel. “Our customers are rapidly growing and we are excited about helping create new jobs each day.”

There were 395,500 jobs in Grand Rapids, Michigan in January 2013 according to the CES survey of employers. The CES survey of households showed 362,807 employed persons for the month. Grand Rapids added 8,500 jobs in January 2013 according to the CES survey while the broader CPS measure of employment rose by 2,124.

For those Grand Rapidians looking for work this is great news as you’re already familiar with the many ideal aspects of living here. If you’re not familiar with Grand Rapids and are considering relocation, you can find out more about living, working and playing at experiencegr.com.

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