December 2010 – Not new media any more

Dell Social Media Listening Command Center sign (courtesy Dell on Flickr CC)We were just about ready to launch this month’s newsletter when Sheila got a last-minute invitation, which then caused a rewrite of the opening section….

Dell officially opened its Social Media Listening Command Center (a pretty incredible facility but not the first – see Gatorade’s brand Mission Control Center) and yesterday Sheila attended the unveiling, met Michael Dell plus some terrific Dell employees and then toured the new Social Media and Community work spaces.

The tourism/hospitality takeaways are these:

**  New media is not so “new” any more. Yes, it might still be new to many, but it is most definitely a mainstream communications channel and feedback mechanism, like phones and email.  To be blunt, if you are a professional communicator in any capacity, some knowledge of social media is now a core competency.

**  Social media has value, and deserves resources and attention. You don’t necessarily have to shell out for the sophisticated (and expensive) Radian 6 suite that Dell is using. Regularly monitor a free combination of targeted Google Alerts, keywords on Facebook and Twitter plus the basics like knowing when someone links to you in a blog post, and you’ll probably be just fine. Our online course Lesson One is all about how to listen.

**  Train your entire organization. Sure, Dell has a core social media listening team that interacts with their internal customer support and technical people, but they have also held worldwide social media training for over 5,000 employees, with a lot more to come. You can do the same; bust the knowledge silos and give people the information they need to be advocates for your destination. Ensuring a “Wow!” visitor experience is everyone’s job in tourism and hospitality.

**  Not paying attention to what your visitors are saying is a major missed opportunity. Competitors are happy to take advantage of their peers who are not listening and engaging.  Sheila can’t go into details, but you can bet that Dell is listening to what people are saying in social media about Dell’s competitors. Is the next town, city, state or province over from you connecting with visitors online and you are not?

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We listen, too

You’ve told us what you want. You want to learn, you want to learn quickly, and you want help and support while you learn.

You got it!

Based on your feedback to us, we’ve compressed our highly-regarded online course in social media for tourism. You can now complete all of the classes in just six weeks….each lesson is packed full of useful information, and you have access to it all from day one.

You’re never alone, either. We are always there for you in the member Forum. You ask anything about tourism and social media, and we will jump in to help. Curious whether that online ad is worth it? We run the numbers with you. Not sure about promoting an event? We brainstorm new ideas with you.

The Forum might just be the single most valuable benefit you get in the course.

We need to give you fair warning, though….our prices are going up on January 1, 2011. We are letting you know now, because we realize some of you have purchase procedures to go through.

—-> The course price increases to $590 on January 1, but you can still sign up at the $490 rate until the end of December.

Come join us!

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Content that draws visitors

Part of drawing in new visitors is to build relationships with them. While they are reading any of your materials, they are forming a relationship in their mind. It’s up to you to change the way you write every single piece you send out, to support that connection.

The goal is to use your words to build relationships.

Use vivid descriptions that spur the visitors’ imaginations. Talk about sounds and smells and actions and sights. Tell stories. Relate the experiences of others in a way you would want to read yourself. Even subtle changes can yield big results.

Let’s take a real-world example. A local site was giving one-line biographies of key people. Here are two examples:

**  Boring bio:  “20+ years public relations”

**  Much better:  “30+ years in all areas of Grocery from Sacker through Owner”

The second item definitely gives a much better feeling for the person than the first, doesn’t it?

Think about building a relationship as you write. You’re telling stories to a friend. You just haven’t met them yet.

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Who knows “what’s around the corner?”

Here’s a thought from the first-ever Symposium on Social Media in Tourism (SoMeT) held in Loudoun County, Virginia last month (remember to jump when the call for RFPs goes out for SoMeT 2011 – you WANT to host this conference!)

Tom Martin gave a compelling presentation that urged tourism people to “embrace randomness” to connect more effectively with visitors.   Editorial calendars have their place in planning content, but spice it up with some of-the-moment “random”  – Tom called it another word for “discovery” – those exciting, interesting things that are just around the corner, even the little things (get close and think small for fresh content.)

Right now, travelers who arrive in your town are using technology to find things around them, often on a mobile device; we look at Yelp, or Gowalla Trips, Foursquare Tips, tweets, TripAdvisor or a search engine scroll for “restaurants in….”

Who better than you to be listening online, responding to those “random” tweets and offering suggestions for what’s just around the corner?

Don’t get so locked into a content calendar that you forget to also be a virtual concierge and help visitors on the spot, when they need it.

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Commenting area

  1. You do know that not all “new media” is social media related, right?

    Social media may be slowly gaining mainstream acceptance (or quickly gaining it, as the case may be), but not all of the new media disciplines are as mainstream as twitter or facebook.

    And really, when you compare new media to old media (for lack of a better term) — static media like radio or newspapers — it’s more about the relative age of the medium itself, not about being the Next New Thing(tm).

    • Hi Elli,

      (Sheila here) I know some people (Chris Penn in 2008, for example) feel that there’s a difference between “social media” and “new media.” Maybe there was in 2008, but here in almost-2011, I think that there is an expectation that all media will have some sort of social/two-way component. So, I see the terms as relatively interchangeable.

      Our point in the newsletter is to say that for communications professionals, this stuff should not be considered “new” anymore, and the sooner people stop seeing it as “new,” and instead as “one other way we communicate,” the sooner they can become a lot more effective with it.

      Clearly, the mainstream folks may be slower to catch up, but then, it is usually not their job to communicate. In a tourism organization, it’s a different story. Plumbers can maybe blow off things like Facebook for awhile longer. Communicators cannot.

  2. GlennaMae Hendricks December 9, 2010 at 2:25 pm · ·

    Hey, it can’t be “new” anymore. Even the IRS uses Twitter! 😉

  3. Ladies,

    So nice of you to include a shout out to my randomness talk. I’m glad you agree that the idea pushes beyond the content calendar and gives a true authenticity to a travel destinations social media stream.

    @TomMartin

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