Is anybody listening….you would be surprised how many people are listening on social networks and act on the information that is provided through Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Gowalla, blogs, and the list goes on.
If you have a tourism business and want to be noticed on social networks, there are a few ways you can get to that influencer status. If you just want to become a destination specialists due to a deep root passion for a destination, go for! I am sure the destination will be thrilled to have you as an ambassador.
Step 1 Open a destination blog
This will be where you will drive all of the listeners to. We have been talking about “your home’ for a few blog posts now, and this will be your home. If you have an existing business already, make sure the blog is integrated into your current website and not hosted on an external blog hosting site. Putting your blog and website together on the same site encourages visitors to browse through your business information as well.
Step 2 Create your avatar that will be used on all of your social media networks
Find a great picture of you in the destination that you will be writing about so that you will become noticed on the social networks. People will recognize you through your avatar (a small picture that is posted on your social networks and comments) or if you are lucky you can leave your avatar and link on comments. More about that later.
Step 3 Get the information to come to you so you can manage your content
Content management is the key to your success. Get on as many local lists, news release lists, subscribe to local bloggers RSS feeds, newspaper RSS feeds, whatever you feel will give you some great up to date information. To top of your information gathering, use google alerts to find international information about the destination you are going to write about. keep your ears and eyes open if you live in the destination for new events, businesses and tours. It helps to be the first to release information.
Step 4 Set up your profile on B2C social networks
To start your social media strategy join Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter to gather followers and fans. If you think that your information is valuable for a B2B relationships, open a LinkedIn profile knowing that B2B information will serve you best on this social network. In your profiles for all of the social networks put the link to your destination blog so people will go to your home base and read your information.
Step 5 Start writing on your blog, liking on facebook, posting destination news and tweeting about up to date news and events
This is where you start to gain recognition for your knowledge. Go slow and steady, build an editorial board that shows when you will post on each social network, use your RSS feeds, local news and facts about the destination to gain trust from your readership and followers. People want a variety of information, feel good stories, local stories and updates. If they see that you are on top of the destination news, tourism info and are helpful with your information they will continue to follow and like what you say. This takes time but with great content, good writing, enough updates to keep people engaged but not too many that they feel spammed, you will soon become an influencer, fast.
Step 6 Comments on other people information about the destination and play nice in the social media arena
With your RSS feeds set up and information coming to you through your content management system, it is easy to comment on other destination blogs, local newspapers, others people’s profiles and conduct retweets of destination information. If you can leave a link to your blog in these areas, great! if not you will be recognized by your avatar when you post comments.
Step 7 Be consistant and post relevant information about your destination
Your goal is to be an influencer and expert so it is highly recommended that you keep your personal convictions quiet. The same rules apply on social networks that apply at dinner and cocktail parties, no discussions about religion, politics or deep, deep personal matters. Keep your personality, which is fun, happy, helpful and cheery. Keep your eye on the prize, destination information, tourism information and travel information. People want the facts, they dont really want a discourse on your philosophy of life. Of course you can put your two cents in , of course you will gravitate towards content that you feel is important, ie ecotourism, sustainable tourism, recycling etc if that is your passion. But keep it on the light side. AND BE CONSISTENT. this is hte most important rule to becoming an influencer. Be consistant with your posts, when you post and how often you post. the more you post, the faster you can become an influencer, but be consistent.
Social media and social networks are a great way to become an influencer. If you own a business, being an influencer in your destination builds trust with the people who follow you and leads to business contacts and conversions. IF they trust you as a destination specialist they will trust your business to also deliver. Both go hand in hand at the end of the day.
Read the post on The Marketing Mix to understand that being an influencer is not the only key to a successful tourism business. Being an influencer helps but for your business it is important to engage in other marketing strategies to complete a successful marketing plan. If you are just starting to build your marketing plan this is a great way to get out there and gather information for your market research. Oh the tangled web we weave!!!