Chocolate milkshake (courtesy Danny Huizinga Flickr Creative Commons)

Chocolate milkshake (courtesy Danny Huizinga Flickr Creative Commons)

Who the heck has time to deal with social media?

YOU do, if you play your content-creation cards right.

The secret to success is to think like an online publisher, because that’s exactly what you are….you have at your disposal all the power of multiple publishing tools to create and distribute stories about your destination, attraction, hotel, or tourism-related business to a worldwide audience, 24/7, and most of the tools are free.

That’s what effective social media is all about, really; connecting with people and telling stories.

To get started thinking like an online publisher, try this:  take one interesting aspect of your town, capture it in a compelling way, then re-use it on different social media channels to reach many different prospective visitors, guests, and customers.

It’s not a new concept; take a look at how Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia expands and extends an idea.

Rock the social media milkshake

Let’s take a destination example using a chocolate milkshake (honestly, we’re talking chocolate here, people. It’s a no-brainer.)

Here is how to take one idea, create content around it and then re-use it.

Notice that on every channel, we recommend sharing most effectively by linking or tagging.

Step 1 – Use your basic point-and-shoot digital camera or phone camera to take a photo of a chocolate milkshake from the real corner drugstore that you still have in your downtown. Bonus points for using the camera’s Macro setting to get a mouthwatering close-up.

Step 2 – Put the milkshake photo into a round-up blog post that calls attention to fun, quick, family-friendly downtown places to eat. Link to each of those businesses in your post; this helps people find them easily and also helps their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for Google, Bing and other search engines.

Step 3 – Link to your blog post in an update on your destination’s Facebook Page. The photo in the post will show up in the link, or you can add a different one, which is good because photos tend to do better than plain text on Facebook. Tag the business Facebook Page of the drugstore where you took the milkshake photo, plus the Pages for the other eateries mentioned in the post – that helps people find them and easily Like them on Facebook.

Step 4 – Tweet the link to your blog post 2-3 times on Twitter, over a few days, at different times so you’re not overwhelming your followers and you reach different people and time zones. Try to leave room in the tweet to include the Twitter “@” handles of those downtown businesses featured in your post – that helps people find and follow them.

Step 5 – Share the blog post link on your LinkedIn Company Page to reach a more B2B audience, perhaps by giving it a downtown/economic development angle. You can do status updates on both personal LinkedIn profiles and Company Pages – plus tag people and brands – just like you do on Facebook.

Step 6 – Pop the chocolate milkshake photo into your email newsletter. Include a short excerpt of the blog post with a link back to the full post. This puts chocolate in your newsletter (can’t argue with that, right?) plus it shows subscribers that you have a blog. Go ahead; ask them in the newsletter to subscribe to the blog and to share the milkshake blog post with their own networks on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Bonus Step – While you’re in the drugstore anyway, shoot a short video of a drugstore employee showing how he/she makes the perfect chocolate milkshake. Put that video on your YouTube channel, with a link in the video description back to your eateries round-up blog post. Share the YouTube video URL on your Facebook Page (it will play right there in Facebook) and tweet the link to the video on Twitter. Take the embed code for the video (YouTube will provide it to you,) add some descriptive text and you’ve just made another blog post about a special local place.

Don’t worry if you are not active on all of the social media channels that we’ve listed above. The point is to take one idea, capture it visually, and then craft content with it to share across multiple channels.

Create something once, then rock it all across the web!

(Note: a variation of this was originally published on the Build it in Bastrop economic development blog.)

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Want some help with learning to think like an online publisher?

This isn’t our first social media rodeo – we’ve all been creating content online for years. Bring one or all of us in as speakers and educators to help you tell your stories online and attract new visitors and guests.

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