May 2011 – What if someone says something bad?

I have a complaint! (courtesy Scott Ableman on Flickr CC)One of the most common questions we get from attendees at our workshops or speaking engagements is, “What about negative comments? What if someone says something bad?”

First, be assured that this is probably NOT going to be your biggest problem with online communications. At least at first, it will be getting anyone to respond at all! Everyone goes through: “Is anyone out there listening to this? Uh, besides you, Mom?”

Once people get chatty, they tend to be positive, at least in our experience with tourism and travel-related sites. Particularly on Facebook, they “Like” your Page because, well, they like you, and want to support you.

But, here comes that first gripe, that first complaint about something.

How do you respond? (Because the absolute WORST thing you can do is to let it sit there, gathering steam.)

Well, what would you do in such a situation offline? To use Becky’s favorite analogy – what would you do if they were grumbling down at the corner coffee shop?

You respond in the same way online.

**  If the criticism is valid, say, “We’re sorry that happened….” and then tell them what you’ll do to fix it.

**  If the criticism is not valid, say, “We’re sorry, but that is incorrect. Here’s the correct information….” and then tell them what you know to be accurate.

**  If you don’t know the answer, say, “We don’t know….” and then tell them what you’re doing to find out.

**  If the language is wildly inappropriate and abusive, say, “I’m sorry you’re angry, but this is our Facebook Page/blog/YouTube channel/whatever. We welcome reasoned, constructive criticism, but if you can’t use appropriate language, we’re going to have to remove your post and block you from further comments here.” If you can get their contact information, drop them an email or message saying the same thing, with a link to your policy.

**  If it has absolutely nothing to do with your topic, remove it without comment. Spam deserves nothing more.

What you may also find is that your community members will often rise up and defend you from attacks.

When the Fargo-Moorhead CVB brought in the original woodchipper from the movie Fargo (and made a Facebook Page called The Woodchipper in Fargo,) one person was offended, and said on the Page:

“Do you really think this represents our community well – putting a leg in the woodchipper?! I am concerned about who is employed at the Visitor’s Center and why they would think this is a good idea. What about people who have never seen the movie? What about the influence on children? This is not appropriate for a welcoming to our community.”

One of the responses:

“I think of it as confronting a stereotype head on. Anyone who lives in Fargo knows these things are not true. However whether we like it or not this movie is very much part of Fargo culture to those that visit us. We might as well embrace the movie in a humorous way that lets visitors in on the joke….Fargo is a great place and along with all those other attributes now we can add a sense of humor to the mix.”

Here is the full thread from the Facebook Page, if you’d like a case study in both the CVB responding and the community supporting the CVB.

The presentation below has some good links and ideas about “surviving a snark attack” – it’s by Connie Reece and Jen Wojcik and was presented at BlogWorld and New Media Expo 2010.

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A Little Housekeeping – Our New Look

You may have noticed that we spiffed up the Tourism Currents website a bit, with a different design, slight changes to the layout and a bunch of back end work to make the site load faster and give you a more enjoyable experience.

Huge thanks to Matt Mansfield of Matt About Business who worked with us, and before him Kim Fenolio of Fresh Squeezed Creative who has helped us chase down site glitches and keep the digital trains running on time.

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Social Media to Help Meeting Planners

In our recent “Book More Meetings With Your Social Media Toolbox” webinar in partnership with DMAI’s empowerMINT, we had a slide with a quote from event planner Kelley R. Burrus of CLINK Events, about what she would like from a CVB or DMO if she was considering them to host a meeting:

“We get sooooo much information shoved at us; if I had the Top 10 most informative facts about a city and resources for each, my life would be so much simpler. Not the published and obvious….I want to know regional customs, dishes, culture. If I bring a group to a city, I want them to leave with a taste of what the city is about….to feel as if they’ve visited a city and not another branch of a fancy hotel. Offer me easily digestible info nuggets/’soundbites’ – I can use those in my sales presentations to clients.”

Here are 5 ways that you could turn Kelley’s event planning request into desirable content, each of which could help with your SEO (Search Engine Optimization:)

1) Have that Top 10 list (including resource links) on a page of your website or blog, and have a set short URL for it that you can use on Twitter and track.

2) “Soundbites” and “nuggets” = tweets, Facebook status updates and blog posts (make each one the topic of a blog post.) Hey, that’s 10 blog posts; not too shabby for filling out your editorial calendar.

3) Put all 10 together in a video. Post it on YouTube and on Facebook. On YouTube, tag, title and describe it for SEO.

4) Put all 10 together in a presentation and upload it to SlideShare. Tag, title and describe it for SEO.

5) Put all 10 together in a Flickr photo set. Tag, title and describe it for SEO.

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Tourism Track at BlogWorld & New Media Expo West, Nov 3-5, 2011

Our speaker and co-facilitator group is now confirmed for this year’s Tourism track at BlogWorld West!

We’re excited to announce that joining us in Los Angeles in November will be Caroline Bean from Visit Philadelphia, Shanna Smith-Snyder from Abilene (TX) CVB, Brian Matson from Fargo (ND) – Moorhead (MN) CVB and for some hospitality expertise, Doug Anweiler from Authentic Seacoast Resorts in Nova Scotia.

Why BlogWorld?

Because nowhere else will you get interactive sessions directly focused on social media for destination marketing, combined with the opportunity to connect with the 8000+ content creators who attend the conference (yes, a blogger speed dating session is in the works.)  If you want to connect with online publishers, you’ve gotta go where the geeks are.

See you this fall in our amazing host city, Los Angeles….registration opens soon, and we’ll have a discount code for you!

Update: here’s our BlogWorld Tourism track info page (including a link to registration, where you can use discount code TC20 for 20% off of any pass.)

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