Gathan D. Borden

Marketing guy working in the tourism industry, disguised under the title of "Director, Brand Marketing & Advertising" - I share my thoughts on a myriad of topics.

11 THINGS THE TOURISM COMMUNITY SHOULD BE DOING ON FOURSQUARE

By now, we are all witnesses of the power of social media. And as new social apps continue to hit the market, we as marketers are charged with staying on top of the game. One of my favorite social apps is Foursquare. There’s plenty of discussion about if destinations should be using Foursquare, and there are plenty of arguments to hear on both sides of the puzzle.

As for me, I hereby declare that it is okay for a destination to have a Foursquare account. Matter of fact, I think destinations are missing the boat if they are not using Foursquare. Foursquare is all about exploring the city, so who better to explore the city and leave recommendations than the people who market, promote and sell the city itself?

I view Foursquare as an extension of your Visitor’s Guide. If you are unsure about Foursquare or where to start, I’ve got 11 tips for you, which I think will help you along your social media journey:

  1.  If you are an attraction, hotel or restaurant, update your information to make sure your address and phone number are listed correctly.
  2.  If you are a CVB/DMO, make sure the addresses and phone numbers of your partners/members are listed correctly. 
  3.  Under your listing, be sure and put your place of business in a category.
  4. Under your listings, be sure to tag your place business with any descriptors that are applicable (i.e. restaurant, hotel, attraction, bar, lounge, etc.)
  5. Leave tips for your place of business as recommendations for people once they check-in at your venue. Word your recommendations in a friendly/concierge voice, not corporate speak. Type them as if you were the doorman at that place of business and someone walked in off the street and asked “What can I do/eat/get here?”
  6. Actively seek “friendships” of those people who are checking in to your place of business.
  7. As a CVB/DMO who is checking in, make your shouts be engaging commentary about the venue you are checking in to. TIP - Nothing is more engaging than asking questions.
  8. If you are a CVB/DMO, link your Foursquare account to your Twitter profile. If your Twitter profile is linked to your Facebook Fan Page, you’ve just updated three social sites with one check-in.
  9. Claim your place of business, and offer check-in specials (for CVBs/DMOs, use your Visitors Center as a place to offer check-in specials).
  10. Add the Foursquare venue widget to your Facebook fan page to create another layer of brand engagement with your consumers. It will show how popular your venue is and people can also read the recommendations.
  11. Add the Foursquare logos/signage in your place of business as reminder for people to “Check In Here”.

Remember, there is no such thing as a social media guru…my thoughts are simply that, MY THOUGHTS! Have fun exploring the world…Happy Foursquaring!

5 SOCIAL MEDIA THINGS THE TOURISM COMMUNITY SHOULD BE EXECUTING

“Facebook Me.” “Tweet Me.” “Did you YouTube it?” How many of us have said those words? It wasn’t too long ago that these words didn’t exist – these days, they are a part of daily dialogue and discussion.

The social media space has forever altered the way in which we connect with family, friends and businesses. Furthermore, it has forever changed the way in which we let someone in on our everyday experiences. How many times have we found ourselves sharing photos, stories and videos of our travels or the travels of our family and friends? These photos, stories and videos allow us to visualize ourselves in those locations. They create memories. They create conversations. They engage. And I think that is the key word in all of this social media stuff – ENGAGEMENT.

Engagement establishes a relationship with the future traveler that makes their decision to come visit your destination simple. Engagement allows the traveler to be that online mouthpiece that all destination brands covet. Online engagement spreads directly to offline conversations, which all leads to increased word-of-mouth marketing. And we all know that word-of-mouth recommendations weigh heavily in the decision-making process.

If you are a CVB or DMO, I think it’s quite obvious that you need to have a presence in the social media space. Given that there are hundreds of social networking sites, many ponder “What sites should I be on?” So, here is my list of the 5 social media recommendations that the tourism community should be actively participating in (alphabetical order):  

Facebook: The premiere social networking site to date. It’s a no-brainer. Be sure that you have a fan page set-up and that you don’t over-share. Keep your posts interesting and engaging.

Flickr: Flickr is a great place to stock images of your destination for sharing purposes. It is a great resource to find professional images of various attractions, events and restaurants that you can use for content-sharing purposes on your various social media sites. And a little secret too…it is also a great resource to find new imagery for marketing collateral, without the fee of professional photographers.

Podcasting: Podcasting is a great way to highlight your destinations in episodic form, which can create repeat viewers. Nothing can sell a destination like a video, so make it entertaining and informal. Here’s a tip…use a service like Tube Mogul, in which you upload your video once and push it out to over 20+ video-sharing sites.

Twitter: Twitter is a great place to see what people are saying about your destination. You have the ability to search tweets directly and respond to the conversations that are taking place.  Use the search Twitter function or the hashtags to find those conversations. Here’s a tip…act as a concierge on Twitter. You don’t have to sell, just be there as a resource of information.

YouTube: YouTube is a great place to store your video library, to include commercials and promotional videos. It is also a great place for user-generated content by the people who love your destination.  Be sure to set-up a specific channel for your destination.

Remember, there is no such thing as a social media guru…my thoughts are simply that, MY THOUGHTS! What works for some, doesn’t work for others. It’s all about exercise and execution.