Bow Road by Elwin Hawthorne, an East London Group painter

Social Streets put Roman Road on the map

In 2013 Roman Road was digitally invisible. The high street had no digital platform and most of the traders; businesses were not using social media; there was no Wikipedia entry, and an image search returning nothing about the local area, positive or otherwise.

Not only was the high street attracting very little destination footfall but most of the residents were not using their own high street, choosing to shop, work, socialise and use facilities in surrounding neighbourhoods such as Hackney, Canary Wharf, Westfield Stratford shopping centre and the destination markets of Brick Lane, Columbia Road and Spitalfields.

There was no Wikipedia entry for Roman Road despite its long-famous East End market. There were entries for all the other markets in Tower Hamlets, but Roman Road and its traditional market dating back to at least 1887, had been overlooked in favour of wealthier Spitalfields and Whitechapel.

In order to help Roman Road compete with these larger high streets, and start creating some presence online, Social Streets launched a full set of social media platforms, populated it with community-led content and grew the channels exponentially creating vibrant and highly engaged online ‘local’ communities.

Local bloggers and journalists were commissioned to write evergreen, cornerstone content about Roman Road’s heritage and culture in including Sylvia Pankhurst and the East London Federation of Suffragettes; activist photographer David Hoffman, and East London Group, the school of painters from the early twentieth century.

Local historian Carolyn Clark was commissioned to write an authoritative Wikipedia entry for Roman Road.

Local trainee photographers were sourced to start building up a bank of positive imagery about the high street, its businesses and the market.

Following two years of digital content strategy and social media managements, in 2016 Roman Road ranked first page for target search terms; had a collective following of 10,000 local people on social media, and helped attract 12,000 visitors to Roman Road Festival.

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