Monday, April 13, 2009
Social Media at the VTIC
I apologize for the lack in postings! And right after I teach two workshops on social media at the Vermont Travel Industry Conference. How very bad. But, in my defense, it is because of the social media workshops that I have been slacking. Those were two mother load of workshops to pull together - they were like research papers pulled into presentations after the research paper had been written!
The first workshop I taught - Alleviating the Fear of Social Networking: The Basics of Social Media - was geared to the 1.0 crowd. I wanted to cover social networking and social media in a very basic way - from history to current applications to help folks merely understand why it showed up and how it is used. And I think it worked! The feedback I have received has been very positive. One woman even wrote, "I learned more in your workshop than I have in entire conferences."
She was definitely NOT referring to the Vermont Travel Industry Conference. That was by far the best conference I have ever attended and for so many reasons. The Equinox is stellar and just being in Manchester was a delight. Cindy Delaney and her crew from Delaney Meeting & Event Management did an absolutely spectacular job. They even dealt with me exceptionally. I had to be the pain-in-the-butt presenter who got all nervous when there wasn't a projector in the room and asked the Equinox for help, when of course the Delaney crew had one all along. Guess I know what I am asking for next Christmas. Thank you very much to all who helped.
There was fantastic networking and excellent exhibits as well as a bunch of workshops besides mine that were chalk full of varying levels of pertinent information to a multiplicity of niche groups within Vermont's vibrant travel industry. I was especially keen on the Orvis dinner event - the Orvis flagship store was turned into a networking outdoor department store with wine, beer, pasta, salad, and desserts being served between the fishing hats, dog beds, and uberlicious Vermont clothes. Here I am (wearing my new Orvis hat) with Vermont's Commissioner of Tourism, Bruce Hyde.
The second workshop I tackled has a much longer name - Implementing New Media Marketing: Practical and Cost Effective Ways to Integrate Social Networking & New Media into Current Marketing Plans - and that is because it was a much meatier workshop than the first. I do not feel the need to explain because the ridiculously long title should be enough! But I do want to share some of the tips I presented and offered in hand outs to my loyal blog readership. Hopefully we picked up a few more after the conference!
Marketing Tips for Utilizing Social Networking & New Media Tools:
• Is Not A Way to Publicize What You May Want in a Press Release
• There is no place for marketing mumbo-jumbo
• Blogs are used to spread news, but news that is pertinent to the audience, NOT what YOU want to be pertinent to your audience
• The audience often changes from what you originally thought it would be
• Blogs are a great way to act as a reporter in your community
• Before you try to start a blog, begin by getting engaged in blogs; take an area you are personally interested in outside of your work and find a few blogs on it, subscribe to them, tinker with using social media bookmarks like DIGG and Delicious, and comment on the blogs while figuring out how to share with others in your social networks, like Facebook or Twitter
• Do not fear the blog – if your messaging is consistent, it will not be lost
• Blogs can be free to set up, or paid for if you want them to feed directly through your website
• You do not need to now HTML to blog, only how to insert hyperlinks, insert photos, and insert already created HTML codes from social networking sites
• Whoever is the blogger must like writing!!!!
• Blogs are so worth it when done right because they have free search engines the marketing of your business is done through SEO placement in the wording on the blog.
-->Get really comfortable with SEO keywords, do not just leave it to the computer professionals, they need to be consistently used in all marketing efforts; they are the backbone of creating links that bring people to your website
-->Sign up for Google Alerts
-->Subscribe to RSS feeds in areas of your own personal interest
-->Start “photoblogging” which is really just using Flickr or Photo Bucket to index your photos
-->Create a YouTube account and spend some time checking out videos and seeing how it works, also share some videos with friends so you know how to do it
-->And yes, join Linked In & Facebook!
-->Engage! Join user groups that relate to your interest, give your email when asked, post on message boards on sites you visit, make public profiles instead of hiding or “trolling” – your public profiles are public, so don’t put up info that you don’t want to be public
-->If you have a tough boss to crack, there is even more of a reason to engage in new media because then you’ll have examples to back up why you need to utilize new media.
-->Accept that there is no quick fix in online marketing; it is an ongoing process, no matter what else you want to believe.
-->You must engage! There is not a cheap or costly solution, it is all about time and engagement.
Marketing Tips for Incorporating New Media into Existing Marketing:
-->SEO > Marketing Consistency
• Consistent Content > keep the message the same, keep the message easy to understand, keep it under a 10th grade reading level, and synchronize it with your Search Engine Optimization, website descriptions, and metatags
• Get the advertising adjectives out of your descriptions
• Google search your own SEO terms and competitors for new opportunities
• Integrate your direct mail campaigns into your e-campaigns so they support one another in theme and message
-->Incorporate with Public Relations
• Use social networking and new media to help tell your story
• Utilize links to boost your web presence!
• Make your press room more of a media center, not just for traditional media, but fill it with your own social media endeavors
• Do not use traditional public relations to promote your social media work! Use them to support one another
• Pick a few social/new media avenues and do them well for your audiences
• Let the information you discover going through this process drive your advertising and public relations and get the two of them in sync!
• Do not think of marketing as linear any longer! Public relations should never come at the end – you should get those tools up and running while you update the website and all of your messaging!
• You WILL NOT SAVE MONEY if you do the web work by yourself!
• What you need to outsource is the technology, but not until you have a clear idea of what you want to get out of new media, which you will not be able to determine if you aren’t using it yourself. And when outsourcing, be collaborative! Are trainings and ongoing consultations going to be more beneficial in the long run so the work can be more effectively and financially distributed?
• Before hiring someone to update the website, get your messaging in all areas of marketing and SEO words in collaboration. And before you do that, get a few unofficial consultations from people who use your materials, both internal and external and some who have never used you materials and get some feedback. Review and integrate before you determine the final outcome. Research websites you like while engaging yourself in new media – make note of these so you can share once you do hire someone to update your website
-->Bring In House
• Create a new media type of position - A new media type of position should handle researching and updating all social networking and new media components (including photography and video skills) and as they are an ongoing engagement, not a quick fix, it is most cost effective to have someone on board – have that person work with outsourced experts to get your social or new media components up and running
• Integrate social networking into the culture of your business. Do not block social networking sites!
• Think about your different audiences – the more options/services/amenities you offer, the more audiences you are going to have; NOT the larger your audience is; use this in determining what new media outlets will work best for different audiences
• Create your own word of mouth marketing campaign - the key is the message CANNOT BE CONTROLLED, but is messaging is consistent, the conversations will be consistent
• Look at your existing customer lists – don’t overuse the e-newsletter that targets your audience as one big mass every time you have information you want to share; instead think about using different social media tools to get the same information out so it resonates with your different audiences
• Once you have customers/guests/clients engaged with you through social networking, ask them to send you YouTube and Flickr/PhotoBucket links from their experiences and ask if you can use in your marketing efforts and then integrate into your marketing
Hope these come in useful for folks! Brought to you direct from Rachel Carter - owner of that corporate hippie driven Vermont public relations firm.