October 2009 – How to Listen

Listen (courtesy ky_olsen at Flickr Creative Commons)We’ve had a busy month welcoming new Tourism Currents members, holding an Open House to show off our goodies, and gearing up for a bunch of speaking engagements throughout the month (because y’all know we can talk!)

Thanks for all of your support, and a warm welcome to all of our new members.

We hope you find this month’s Newsletter items useful, and don’t forget to check our Tourism Currents Delicious bookmarking page for almost-daily updates of social media/tourism/tech links that help you understand the fast-moving Web.

We’re getting ready to post Lesson One for paid members – “How to Listen” online using tools like Google Alerts, Google Blog Search, Twitter Search and Alltop.com.  In a late-breaking development, Sheila will do a video interview for this month’s lesson with @SeattleMaven (she represents the Seattle CVB on Twitter) about how she listens and responds to talk to locals and visitors about her city.

If you’re ready to upgrade to our paid membership levels so you don’t miss any of it, here’s the sign-up page (want more info about our online course before buying?  Here are the details.) If you need to use a government purchase order or some other invoicing method besides a credit card or PayPal, just let us know via our Contact page.

Remember, we’re closing paid memberships on October 31 so that class size doesn’t get too big and people don’t feel that they’re behind in the lessons.


“How to Listen” tips  —  Better Google Alerts

(This question came up from a Smithville TX representative when Sheila spoke at a tourism workshop, so Becky thought she’d answer it here. Depending upon your traffic sources – look at your Web site analytics – you may want to set up an equivalent Yahoo! Alert.)

How many “Smithvilles” can there be?

Let’s say there are a dozen towns named Smithville.   If you are trying to monitor online mentions of just Smithville, Texas, how can you set up a Google Alert (an email automatically sent to you when there are new Google results for your search terms) for Smithville without being buried in results for the wrong town?

Filter First

I recommend you start by filtering just for your state. Run a test search at Google.com, or news.google.com. Start by including your city and state names, without using quotation marks. If you want to get fancy, try using the advanced search page and using operators like “OR” (known as a Boolean search.)

Here’s a suggested search string:  Smithville Texas OR TX

This will miss any mentions that fail to include the state. Who might do that? Local bloggers or authors who presume everyone knows which Smithville they’re talking about.

Once you get the test search refined to a usable state, and you can see that the search results are pretty much on-target, then go ahead and create your Google Alert.

Try Unfiltered Later

Once you are comfortable with the way you are getting results, you can experiment with doing a broader search.

If you leave off the state name, you’ll get more results (and more results that are irrelevant) but you may catch some stories you’ll otherwise miss.

Deep Digging with Google

You can really get down into the details with Google Search; here are some specific search engines that can help you find that haystack needle….

  • Images —  searches only photos (good results dependent upon people titling, describing and tagging their pictures.  By the way, if they don’t do this well and you do, your photos will win the search results race, sending more people to your site via those photos.)
  • Blog Search – searches only blogs.
  • Video – searches only videos (see above about photos; applies here too.)
  • Two other newer ones – Scholar ( searches academic and scholarly papers, abstracts and citations) and Books (searches, well, a lot of books, plus many magazines. Here’s their Inside Google Books blog for the latest news.)


Fun and Under-utilized: Flickr

We’re big fans of the photo-sharing site Flickr (and all members can join our Tourism Currents Flickr Group Pool; please share your tourism-related pics with us!)

We’ll talk about it more in December’s Lesson Three, Reaching Out/Outposts, but here’s a link to get you thinking about why describing and tagging your photos helps to highlight your destination in search engines:

From Jeff Bullas: 5 tips to increase your visibility on Flickr


Tip of the Month

Becky McCray soups up your Blogger blog with great tips from her presentation at Oklahoma’s “Throw Your Voice” conference for blogging, podcasting and new media.

Her Small Biz Survival blog post adds lot of detail to the slides below, so don’t miss Make Blogger Blogs Look Cool.


Want to see us in person?

***  October 15-17:   BlogWorld and New Media Expo, Las Vegas, NV.  Becky is speaking on “Small Business, Big Impact.”  Hashtag to follow the conference on Twitter is #BlogWorld. There’s a Travel Track, too, on October 17; one panelist to follow is Doug from Nova Scotia tourism – he’s @AuthenticCoast.

***  October 19:  Oklahoma Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Tulsa, OK. Sheila is giving the luncheon keynote and an afternoon workshop. Hashtag is #OTIA09

***  October 27:  Red Carpet Country Tourism Conference, Alva, OK. Becky and Sheila both speaking on social media in tourism, and anyone can attend for a bargain $25.

***  November 17:  140Conference, London, England. Becky is speaking on Twitter and small business. Hashtag is #140conf


Bonus material for October

—->   Using Twitter for scheduled conversations:  People have started organizing regularly-scheduled online chats, using Twitter, to discuss topics from journalism to social media to PR to agriculture (yup, on #agchat.)

We found a public Google Doc spreadsheet that lists many of their hashtags and what day/time they’re held:  Twitter Chat Schedule.  Come join in sometime!

Thanks for visiting! Comments, thoughts and feedback are welcome below.


If you found this newsletter helpful, go here to learn more about our online course and here to sign up to get the newsletter by email. Thanks!

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