Special to the PRESS
On April 24, businesses across Texas were allowed to reopen with “Retail To Go” parameters. The City of Port Isabel used Facebook Live to broadcast local businesses’ products to the facebook.com/portisabeltx audience. With somewhat over 20,000 followers, the idea was to give those followers a peek into stores they could not visit.
The City of Port Isabel’s first Facebook Live broadcast promoting local businesses was for Coastal Winds, a gift shop along Highway 100, with owners Paul and Karen Wentzel. A tour of Coastal Winds featured tropical inspired accessories, many of them one-of-a-kind. The live stream resulted in sales immediately following the wrap of the broadcast. As part of the City’s offer, the post was then advertised on Facebook, and traffic was pushed back to the website, phone number, or Facebook page of the participating business.
When “Retail To Go” morphed into businesses being open to foot traffic, with restrictions and limitations, a Facebook Live was scheduled with Quik Stop. And again, the City paid for several days of advertisement on Facebook with the call to action button being linked to what the business decides would drive the most traffic to them. Viewers were also invited to ask questions in the comments.
Over the weeks, the format of the project has gelled, yet remained flexible enough to react to changes with proclamations or to the subject or business featured.
Facebook Live events are scheduled for 2:00 p.m. and can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes. Then the post is advertised and posted to IGTV (Instagram TV, user @portisabeltexas). The City of Port Isabel will also create media releases of the broadcasts, submit them to local media, or use it in an email blast or posted to websites.
The City of Port Isabel is capitalizing on audiences who are interested in content that helps them plan their trips and strengthens an existing connection, and locals are interested in learning more about the community. The broadcasts also keep Port Isabel connected with Winter Texans back in their home states. Subjects have ranged from a tour of the Lighthouse, restaurants, retail, Isabel Y. Garcia Animal Shelter, COVID-19 testing registration, Highway 100 weekend traffic, and interviews with local media such as the Port Isabel South Padre Parade and the Coastal Current.
On Tuesday, June 30, a return visit to Coastal Winds included a conversation about operating a small business over the last two months through changing orders and proclamations related to the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring Coastal Winds’ new merchandise. On June 1, The City of Port Isabel featured the kitchen at Marcello’s Ocean Grille & Spirits with Chef Bettina Tolin.
On Thursday, July 2, in the spirit of ‘Throwback Thursday,’ local legend Bobby Wells gave a virtual tour of Port Isabel, chatting with City of Port Isabel’s marketing director Valerie Bates on Port Isabel’s history. On Tuesday, July 7, Laura Caudillo at the Port Isabel Branch of the First National Bank of South Padre Island will be interviewed.
Businesses wanting to participate in the Facebook Live broadcasts are asked to contact Valerie Bates at (956) 867-7002 or firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no cost.
To view the videos visit: Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/portisabeltx/videos, or YouTube, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPQqoYxSvOE&list=PLckVj39KB9RfaiVisWJFIF4gfIhg1vGDk
Since the program started, nearly 73,000 minutes, or over 1,200 hours, of views have been generated.
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