Getting the Most Out of Twitter
After our extremely popular, ‘hey, why aren’t you doing this?’ post on Twitter entitled ‘How the Travel Industry Should Use Twitter,’ a sequel was inevitable. And frankly, we owed it to you.
The one thing we did not talk about in that previous post is how VISIT DENVER…my day job…is adopting Twitter into it’s social media marketing strategy. I am sure that fact was not missed by some of our more devoted readers.
‘Okay, he is telling me what to do, but what is VISIT DENVER doing with Twitter?’
Glad you asked.
Just as a side note, the strategy from VISIT DENVER was not included in that original post simply because the post was already pretty long and we certainly don’t want the blog to seem too self-serving.
So, how is VISIT DENVER getting the most out of Twitter? Let’s start at the beginning.
Where Did We Start
Based on the success of the Twitter campaign that we were experiencing at the Arizona Office of Tourism (previous job) and the campaign that VISIT DENVER launched around our very popular Denver Restaurant Week (@denverrestoweek) promotion, it seemed like a natural fit to start a general VISIT DENVER profile.
However, we knew going into the campaign that we did not want to just post messages, coupons and offers into the stream of information that is Twitter. We wanted to build off of our current overall campaign, ‘See Denver Like a Local’ or ‘Locals Know Denver,’ and engage the local community on Twitter.
Based upon the brilliant execution of the @travelportland profile from our friends at Travel Portland…credit where credit is due…we knew that Twitter was not only the ideal vehicle to reach the local community, but the community would, in turn, respond.
After establishing our profile (@iknowdenver) and starting to build our followers, we began to introduce a series of hashtags that would allow us to segregate the tweets that we were receiving. Similar to the @travelportland #inpdx hashtag, but on a bigger (and more complex) scale.
Here is how we presented it to our followers:
Have a tip? Think you know Denver? Tell us using the Hashtags below.
Tag your tweet with one of our hashtags below and give your local perspective on Denver.
#dnvrarts = Arts & Culture
#dnvrrec = Sports & Recreation
#dnvrdine = Food & Dining
#dnvrgems = Denver Gems
What is a hashtag?
It is a way for users to tag specific tweets in a category. It makes those tweets easier to find on Twitter.
Now, we can begin to segment the tweets into categories, allowing us to manipulate the data into the locations we wanted.
Not to be overlooked, we realized that educating both our followers and potential consumers was going to be key to the success of this endeavor. So, we established a simple ‘VISIT DENVER on Twitter‘ page explaining the who, what and where about Twitter.
Going Beyond Twitter
We all know that consumers love to find the local opinion when traveling. Where to go, what to see, how are the locals experiencing their city. At VISIT DENVER, we built an entire campaign around this idea. We also had a very underutilized section of VISITDENVER.com called ‘Like a Local’ which allowed site users to post tips about what locals do in Denver.
There are a couple of problems with that strategy. First, VISITDENVER.com does not have enough visitation and critical mass to sustain such a section. 10 or 20 posts over the period of a year and a half is not going to influence anyone to visit the Mile High City. Secondly, why are we building and maintaining this interface? Frankly, it was a pain to administer in return for the results produced.
Now, at this point we have the ‘Like a Local’ section and all of these real-time and very informative tweets on Twitter. Our tweets are stuck in the Twitter universe and the ‘Like a Local’ section is floundering at best. You see where we are going with this.
Scrap the ‘Like a Local’ section and simply pull the related, local tweets from Twitter into VISITDENVER.com.
In this solution, we are using Twitter as the interface and source for the critical mass we were lacking, while, at the same time exposing our non-Twitter site visitors the wealth of knowledge that was being produced on Twitter.
Plus, using the hashtags we created earlier, we can now search and display relevant tweets in relevant categories.
I know, I know, it is great, but I thought of it first.
Yeah, but did it work?
The short answer, yes.
We are building an engaged and helpful network via Twitter for Denver locals, who love to know that their opinion is being seen. Plus, we have ‘crowd sourced’ these followers for the content. Now, instead of 3 VISIT DENVER team-members creating tweets, we have 10 or 15 regular contributors to the content feed. Less work for us, plus they are providing local knowledge (UGC!) that we could never have presented without Twitter.
And based on the statistics, our visitors love the section too. They are spending more time, looking at more pages and engaging with our content at a deeper level.
Now, do all of our consumers who see this section realize or understand what Twitter is? No, they don’t. But, they are seeing real-time, local opinions on Denver…at that point, who cares what crazy, ‘young person’ Web 2.0 application is actually running the section. They just want answers.
There you have it. Another way for the travel industry to utilize Twitter beyond simply posting messages using the service.
How else should the travel industry take advantage of the miracle that is Twitter? We have presented our thoughts, what do you think? Let us know in the comments.