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Sewickley's Village Green Partners gain ground via social media

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Halfway through Village Green Partners' first year of measuring milestones, the nonprofit that markets Sewickley's business district has hit most of its goals, one of its leaders said.

The group is tracking performance metrics such as Facebook “likes” and email addresses that are collected for planned e-newsletters.

The results are tied to a contract worth at least $70,000 in Sewickley taxpayer money to the nonprofit group.

Performance achieved this year could produce more funding for next year. Sewickley Council in February approved the Village Green contract and performance metrics in an 8-1 vote with member Carole Ford opposed, saying at the time that money allocated to the group was “too much.”

Village Green co-founder Jennifer Markus said success has been achieved in two social media-based categories: newsletter email address additions and Facebook “likes.”

“We are well ahead with our newsletter and our Explore Sewickley (Facebook) “likes” — by a lot,” she said.

Village Green has more than 2,160 Facebook “likes,” according to the Explore Sewickley page, and more than 2,300 subscribers to its e-newsletter, Markus said.

In February, she said the group had more than 2,300 registered email addresses.

The Sewickley-based nonprofit promotes the business district and organizes events such as Light Up Night.

Still, Markus said Village Green is behind in securing partners for its work although she expected the number to increase soon.

To date, the group has secured 64 partnerships. A business pays the group $250 annually for a partnership, which offers certain promotions and incentives including being included in a marketing brochure. The first brochure is expected to be published soon.

Sewickley Council member Larry Rice questioned recently why the number of partners was not higher.

“Is it the price level? Is it the number of opportunities?” he said.

Markus said because Village Green has been without a physical location for the past few months, “it has been harder for us to be visible in the community on a daily basis.”

The group's new space will be ready in about a month, she said, and the brochure could “spur a lot more partnerships.”

Performance metrics under the contract with Sewickley are in five areas: paid partnerships established with local businesses, e-newsletter contacts, Facebook “likes,” fundraising for the Christmas season's Yuletide in Sewickley and completion of a business district database.

Three metrics are based on quarterly assessments. For instance, the group was to reach 1,300 Facebook “likes” by the end of March, and doing so means Village Green would get an additional $500 in 2015.

The group could earn an additional $500 for each 100 new “likes” added in a quarter, or the payment could drop if the goals aren't met.

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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