#shopdowntown Campaign Nets Widespread Participation, Names Winners

#shopdowntown Campaign Nets Widespread Participation, Names Winners

December 31, 2018

Downtown Framingham, Inc.’s Small Business November #shopdowntown social media campaign encouraged citizens everywhere to take photos in local downtown businesses and post them on social media platforms from November 1 through December 14, 2018.   

By the end of the campaign:

  • 253 total photos were posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

    • 99 were taken from businesses located in and near Burkis Square

  • 55 total businesses were represented in the photos.

o   27 businesses were from the restaurant / bakery business sector.

o   Sofa Café received the most photos, followed in second place by Exhibit “A” Brewing Company.  Jack’s Abby and Pho Dakao tied for third place.

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The most used social media platform was Facebook at 80.2%.   It was the most-visited platform site for this campaign, and this platform also hosted the new “Go Downtown Framingham!” Facebook group.  Within this digital group, community members inspired each other to post pictures when they visited a downtown business. The second-highest social media platform used was Instagram at 11.5%, followed by Twitter at 8.3%.

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Shopping trends for the small businesses were dominantly focused on restaurants and bakeries, making up 65.2%. There are many food options offered in downtown Framingham with various cultural cuisines. Sofa Café was the most popular food venue in this category,  followed by three breweries: Jack’s Abby Craft Beer, Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company, and Springdale. Sofa Café is a food venue that many people visit daily to grab a coffee, making it reasonably popular. The breweries were also very popular because they bring uniqueness to downtown Framingham by hosting events, offering games, and displaying local artwork. The service industry was the second-highest shopping trend at 20.2%.   Barbershops, hair salons, nail salons, fitness studios, and language translation businesses comprised the majority of this category. These service-based businesses meet essential and/or desired needs for the local population. The business sectors that were least represented were the retail industry at 9.9% and arts and culture at 4.7%. When shopping for clothes, groceries, furniture, or other needs in downtown, people may be intensely focused on the purchasing process and forget to take pictures. Although the retail industry drives foot traffic, it was not fully reflected through the #shopdowntown campaign. Arts and culture venues are also supported through gallery collaborations with other downtown businesses that host galleries, including a partnership with Amazing Things Arts Center and Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Co. and a partnership between Springdale Beer Barrel Room and the Framingham Contemporary Artists Group.  Overall, downtown Framingham hosts at least eight art galleries.

55 total businesses in Downtown Framingham were promoted in the #shopdowntown challenge.  27 of the businesses were restaurants, breweries, or bakeries.  18 businesses were from the service industry, 8 were retail stores/markets, and 2 were art/cultural venues. A goal for the next #shopdowntown campaign would be to apply more emphasis on arts and culture venues.  There are 8 galleries in downtown Framingham, but only 2 were represented. The other 6 galleries can be represented through community gatherings and holiday events to drive greater awareness of local artwork.  There are over 50 retail stores located in downtown, but only eight were represented in the #shopdowntown campaign. This could be improved by having the retail business more engaged with online marketing and advertisement.  Promoting well-designed store fronts can stimulate further interest and curiosity from walkers, drivers, and digital users.  

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Overall, the strongest business was Sofa Café making up 9.5% of the total number of pictures. The next three dominant businesses were Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company at 5.9%, Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers at 5.5%, and at Pho Dakao 5.5%. These three venues host many weekly events, including live music, which really attract the community. The weakest represented businesses were Lana’s Beauty Salon, Loyalty Barber Shop, Joy Luck Club, Monnick Supply, New Face Hair Salon, New Style Hair Salon, Padaria Brasil Bakery & Pizzeria, Sabor de Casa, Simon’s Auto Body, Studio 3 English, TJ’s Market, The Golden Circle, Aaron’s Furniture, Atlantis Dental, BRZ Insurance, Chang Express, Crystal Nails & Spa, and El Pikante, all which comprised only 0.4% of the photos.  Each of these preceding businesses was only represented by a single photo.  Most importantly, it’s crucial to inspect why certain businesses and business sectors were not represented at all.  Tax services, clothing stores, travel agencies, and furniture stores all lacked participation.

These results will be compared to next year’s campaign to help evaluate the growth and vitality in downtown Framingham from 2018 to 2019.

DFI Cultural Projects Manager Kelsi Gunarathne tracked the data and prepared this report in coordination with the DFI Executive Director, Courtney Thraen