TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – The Twin Falls Economic Development team has a new marketing tool: a friendly dog named Tess.

Tess is a 2-year-old hound mix who was rescued from the animal shelter. Her job nowadays is to promote the livability and economic benefits of opening shop in Twin Falls.

It’s all part of a new social media outreach campaign called “Why I Love Twin Falls.”

City officials, several community residents and their dogs stopped by City Park on a damp Thursday afternoon to learn about the campaign. Tess was there wearing a red bandanna and posing for a picture with Twin Falls Mayor Shawn Barigar.

Barigar said he often is asked what he loves about Twin Falls. His answer is immediate: “It’s always been the people,” he said.

“Animals in social media have shown to be exceptional social media promoters, gaining followers, generating shares, comments and likes more than humans can,” says Twin Falls Mayor Shawn Barigar.  “Twin Falls Tess is a natural to help promote local businesses and the many job opportunities here.”

Of course, there are other things he enjoys about the area, noting that partnering with our four-legged friends is a great way to showcase the best things about Twin Falls.

How the campaign works: basically, residents who are out and about in the community are encouraged to snap photos of themselves and their pets in a context of what they love about the area, using the hashtag #ilovetwinfalls.

Economic Development Director Nathan Murray said the outreach campaign is an effort to draw attention to the area, letting potential businesses know that Twin Falls is a positive and progressive place to live, play and work.

In formulating the plan, Murray said his team decided they needed a mascot, something with broad appeal. “Well, there’s our mascot,” he said, nodding to Tess as she greeted another visitor.

Barigar, who doesn’t own any dogs but did walk with Tess in the Christmas parade, said he understands the appeal of using a dog because animals are positive social media influencers; people like to hear stories and see pictures of pets.

“Animals in social media have shown to be exceptional social media promoters, gaining followers, generating shares, comments and likes more than humans can,” he said. “Twin Falls Tess is a natural to help promote local businesses and the many job opportunities here.”

The small gathering at the bandshell didn’t last long, but one speaker representing a business fairly new to the area shared her excitement about opening shop in the community.

“We love the Twin Falls community,” said Susan Potucek, Clif Bar’s human resource manager, noting the company is excited about its platform in Twin Falls. She also said she’s excited about the social media campaign because it’s another way to showcase “what Twin Falls has to offer.”