Tracking Your Social Media & Blogosphere Presence – Part 1


Recently, Alan Dubberley from the Wyoming Travel & Tourism office contacted the NCSTD Marketing/Advertising list with a question all of us in the travel marketing realm are grappling with. “How do you manage your “social media reputation?”

When reputable people speak up, it should count for more than when a stranger does, correct? That’s the way it works in the real world. But how does it work online and how do you as a destination marketer “get in” on the conversation.

This post is a two part response. Our first part consists of a direct response to Alan (and the entire NCSTD) from Troy. Part 2 (tomorrow) will present a real world case study as performed by Travel Oregon and our thoughts on the subject.

Thoughts// (from Troy) A social media strategy really starts with determining an organizations perspective on the medium. Is it participatory or isolated? By participatory, do you (not just Alan, but anyone) believe that your content, regardless of where it is viewed, is still valuable to the consumer and in turn, the consumer will view you as the creator of the content? Or do you feel that your content should only be viewed on your specific site? Do you have an open outlook or a closed one?

For example, would you view providing content about your state to a site such as TripAdvisor as a benefit?

At AOT we have taken the proactive, participatory approach to social media / networking and are reaching out to several social networking sites to portray ourselves as a reliable, expert contributor. I would be happy to discuss this in more detail, if anyone is interested.

As far as managing your social media reputation, luckily, I have not run into too many high-profile, Arizona-related cases involving social media where it was necessary to become involved. There are poor reviews of properties or a bad vacation story here or there, but nothing to the magnitude of a front page story.

What resources have you dedicated to this effort?
At this point, really just time. I try to carve out a few hours a week to either research or contribute to social networking sites.

Are you staffing this effort internally or using a vendor?
Internally, but again, it is really a contribution model right now, rather than a blog/social media monitoring service. Since the majority of the content we are contributing is in the same tone and style as the rest of our advertising, it would be difficult to depend upon an outside organization to represent us to the public. Additionally, in the social media world it is much more beneficial and wise to be as authentic as possible…rather than say you are one company, when have really just been hired by that company.

What specific sources (i.e. websites, blog sites) are you monitoring to manage your social media reputation?
Google Alerts, Google Blog Search, Yahoo!, Technorati, Digg, del.icio.us, sphere and Blogdigger.

What have you learned from this effort so far? Tips?

Unfortunately, like a lot of interactive marketing, social media strategy takes time. However, there are a lot of free tools available that will give you a good snapshot of what is being said online about your brand or, in this case, your destination.

Take Google Alerts for example. A very simple, and again free service, that allows you to subscribe via RSS or email to the latest news and blog posts containing certain keywords. So, you could create a Google Alert for the words ‘arizona’, ‘tucson’ and ‘phoenix’ and receive a pretty good look at what is being written about each subject. Of course, those are pretty broad topics, so you will receive a lot of unrelated information.

Also think about the positive effects of a blog search. Rather than using these tools to just find any and all negative press written about your destination, take a moment to find those people who are writing positive reviews or entire blogs about how wonderful your state is. Then, contact them, thank them, send them free souvenirs, ask them to write more. Starting a long-term relationship with a strong, vocal and positive consumer could multiply the positive press that they are already giving you…not to mention begin to offset any small amount of negative comments. Take the ‘I Heart Zappos’ case as an example.

Additionally, begin to explore the sites where your customers are discussing your destination. TripAdvisor alone has thousands of users and most of them are asking simple questions that you could answer right now. On top of that, a lot of them are discussing your destination…what they want, when they are going, why they are going and what they like…all you have to do is listen to them. Free market research! Of course, starting to respond to hundreds of people on a message board or blog can become very time-consuming, not to mention tricky, but the benefits could greatly outweigh the risks.

Finally, I would assume that for most of us, any negative press is directed at a specific attraction or lodging establishment, rather than an entire state or city. However, if you are concerned about negative press or discussions about your destination, I would recommend looking into a service such as Umbria.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.