A pop up high street is coming to the Market Square in Stafford on Friday (7 April) at the launch of a pilot digital campaign aimed at increasing footfall to the town centre.
More than a dozen local shops have taken marquees in the Market Square to promote their businesses with prizes being given out throughout the day for those joining in with the #WDYT campaign.
Stafford is one of only a handful of towns to be taking part in the initiative which aims to increase the publicity for High Street shops through social media. Stores around the town have played their part by taking photos of their businesses, products and services and posting them to Twitter or Instagram alongside the hashtags #WDYT and #STAFFORD.
Already hundreds of posts have been sent from local retailers and customers to promote the town as part of the scheme which has been backed by the Stafford Town Centre Partnership (TCP) and the Borough Council.
A dedicated team ensure the posts are seen by a wide audience - which has now helped increase the town's digital output. Previously Stafford was around 120 in the country for its amount of digital 'noise' - but latest measurements show the town has climbed nearly 50 places nationally in the last couple of weeks.
The launch kicks off in the Square at 10am on Friday and will run until 2.30pm. The event is being hosted by Stafford FM with a big screen displaying social media posts from residents and businesses supporting the campaign.
A #WDYT selfie photo booth will also be available in the Market Square and businesses across the town have been donating prizes which can be won on the day by using social media and turning up at the event.
A training day has already been held where a number of retailers were given advice and help to open twitter and Instagram accounts so they can get on board the campaign.
Chris Lewis, Chair of the TCP, said: "Our businesses know that the traditional High Street has changed over the years and burying your head in the sand is not an option if you want to survive.
"But we want to be clear. Our town centre is not dying - it is evolving. And Stafford needs to be equipped to take advantage of that evolution. We want people who search and socialise online to see what this town, its retailers and its services, has to offer and choose Stafford as their default destination to shop, eat and enjoy."
The digital pilot is a Government initiative and money to run the campaign has been funded by the Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership through the Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub.
Head of Economic Development and Planning at the Council, Richard Lawrence, said: "It is great to see how many businesses in the town have already embraced this pilot campaign and are doing what they can to ensure Stafford town centre is on the digital map.
"I hope many more retailers come on board over the next few months and that residents support their local businesses by using them, and promoting them, to a wider audience."
David Frost CBE, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership Chairman, said: "This initiative is a great example of the forward-thinking and innovative attitude of our local businesses.
"It is important to use opportunities such as social media to the full to help create vibrant town centres and make this area a great place to work, live and invest."
Prizes include 50 pound gift vouchers, tickets for the theatre, and afternoon tea.