August 2012 – Getting Help with Social Media

The Dreaded Shrinking Staff

Getting help - is your CVB or CMO staff shrinking? Consider an intern.It’s happening to everyone, everywhere.

You lose an employee and because of budgets, the economy….whatever the reason of the day is….you are unable to replace that person. Maybe your marketing communications workload is getting to be too challenging for a one- or two-person shop. When this happens, don’t let doom and gloom take over. While you wish you could hire someone else but don’t have the budget to do so, don’t despair!

An intern may be the right answer, even for the smallest CVB, DMO, or tourism-related organization.

When our training team member Leslie McLellan lost her marketing assistant in 2009, she took a chance and contacted the marketing studies department of a local college (the closest one was 45 minutes away from her California town.) She found that they did indeed have an intern program.

For this particular internship, she designated projects that the intern needed to complete each semester, and in return the intern received 2 units for the work. In addition, Leslie’s Chamber of Commerce paid the intern $500 per semester (which helped cover textbook costs.)

There were several students anxious for a marketing internship; after interviewing them she chose a junior, and he was so great that he interned for Leslie for 2 years until he graduated.

Why An Intern Might Be The Answer

Interns are anxious to help.

The one Leslie hired knew all sorts of “tech” stuff that she didn’t, and he also loved doing all the little things that she didn’t have the time (or the desire) to do. While Leslie was the one who provided “the voice” for the destination, the intern was the one who took care of the research, compiled data, and helped keep her on track.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a rural destination, or a larger one. The area where Leslie lives is quite rural and her intern lived over an hour away, so they communicated primarily via email and phone. He came to her area only a few times, and they were able to accomplish everything else via technology.

So, if you’re looking to expand your marketing department without wiping out your marketing budget, contact a school near you and start building an internship program. You’ll be giving a college student valuable insights and work experience, as well as getting more or your own work accomplished as well. Even if a nearby college doesn’t have tourism, hospitality, or recreation course offerings, most will have some flavor of marketing or communications students.

Todd Lucier of the Northern Edge Algonquin eco-resort hired college intern Topher Earl to help him with video; in addition to helping out the resort, it eventually morphed into Blue Canoe video productions.

Here is one of their customers explaining what a promo video has meant to her business (can you see one of your partners or members making a video like this about how you’ve helped them?)

Wendy MacCrimmon’s Testimonial from Northern Edge Algonquin on Vimeo.

Need more ideas to make your work life a little easier? You might like our ideas on how to multiply your efforts.

Time Management Tips for Social Media

Think of monitoring and connecting on social media the same way that you think about manning a brick-and-mortar Visitor Center: it is something that must be done, but one person does not have to do all of it.

Set up a schedule with two or more people (staff members, locals that you pay to work with you, or a combination) including weekends and holidays. Make duty days and responsibilities very clear. Back each other up.

Have Twitter mentions of your “@CVB/DMO” account sent to your phones, have Facebook Page alerts and blog post comment notifications sent via email, etc.

Use your phones as publishing machines; take photos or videos with them while you’re out and about in town, and send those to Facebook and Twitter. It’s easy to do, people like them and you don’t have to be tied to a desk in order to to create content.

Answering YOUR Burning Questions

We get mail….via our Tourism Currents Twitter account….so here are some answers:

You ask – Why are many tourism operators still resisting social media?

(from the Southern Flinders Ranges in South Australia)

We say  –  There are a variety of reasons why some of your members or partners resist social media.

They don’t think their market is there….although, for example, one of the fastest-growing demographics on Facebook is women over 55.

They don’t see how to measure the value of it….although you can get a lot more data than you ever could before about a campaign’s effectiveness from your website’s Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, etc. The key thing is to set goals before diving in, and decide on metrics so you can measure progress and see if you’re getting the results you want.

They’re afraid of the technology….although it’s not that complicated, and the most important thing is great content and stories, which they already have. It’s not about the tools; it’s about how you apply them to your communications strategy.

They’re afraid of the culture, especially negative comments….although it’s simple; you respond to public complaints with a public “I’m sorry” and then try to fix things, just like you do offline. In reality, many organizations see a lot of positive comments, not negative (and the main thing you have to do with those is say, “thank you.”)

They think they don’t have time….although they have time to respond to customers in lots of other ways, so why not this one? It’s direct visitor and guest interaction, just like your Visitor Center. Prioritize your workload accordingly.

You ask – How do you pick the right social media tool(s) for your business/organization?

(from Oklahoma Horizon)

We say  –  You have to ask that fundamental question – where is MY market online?

For leisure travelers, it may be Facebook and Twitter. For meeting planners, it may be LinkedIn, or the Twitter hashtags #eventprofs, #pcma or #mpi. Does your market use search engines? Then a blog is the channel that will do the most to help your SEO (Search Engine Optimization.) Video content would also help, because YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world.

Another way to find out where to connect with your market online: ask them in a survey.

Another way: check to see if your email provider has a social analysis feature (MailChimp calls theirs SocialPro, for example) that will scan your current email list and tell you approximately where each of those people are on various social networks.

Another way: see if your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software incorporates social media data, the way they do in Sprout Social.

Focus your efforts. Do not be distracted by new channels if your market isn’t there.

Have a plan.

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We look forward to connecting with you in person

Here is where we plan to be in August:

—>  Bartlesville Marketing and Communications Association meeting

Bartlesville, OK on August 9 – Becky is speaking about her book Small Town Rules, via video.

—>  Discover IE Tourism Summit (for Southern California’s Inland Empire region)

Ontario, CA on August 9 – Leslie is attending.

—>  TACVB Annual Conference (Texas Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus)

Killeen, TX August 14-17 – Becky & Sheila speak on Thursday, August 16, about “Hacking Your Day: Tips for Fitting Social Media into Your Workflow Without Losing Your Mind…Too Often”  (conference Twitter hashtag is #tacvb12 if you want to follow the action)

—>  Social Media Club Hutchinson

Hutchinson, KS on August 20 – Lunch with Becky McCray

—>  Social Media Breakfast Maine

Portland, ME on August 24 – Becky speaks on Return of the Small Town Business

—>  Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP) Lone Star Chapter professional development seminar

San Antonio, TX on August 25 – Sheila’s session title is, “Fire Starter: Yes, Social Media Can Help Market Your Event AND Grow a Year-Round, Buzzing Community”

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