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10 Ideas to Build Social Infrastructure

Written by on Oct 8, 2012 | 6 Comments
10 Ideas to Build Social Infrastructure

In our recent article, The Evolving Social Role of the DMO, we talked about three trends that will shape tourism destination social strategy over the coming months.

Two of the social media trends, the Creative Newsroom and Influencer Marketing featured relevant examples from other destination marketing organizations.

But the third trend, Customer Experience, is simply a theory, unfortunately lacking clear and decisive examples of tourism organizations who are building opportunities for social communication rather than simply communicating socially.

Tourism destinations face several challenges with social media. The trustworthiness of a branded response, ownership of product, perceptions of favoritism and communication bandwidth.

Those challenges, along with the current trends listed above formed the basis of the theory.

But it needs a better name.

Something that separates the idea of customer service from customer experience. And somehow factors in the social aspects of the idea.

Social Infrastructure.

The idea of social infrastructure says that a tourism destination does not need to be directly social, but rather create the infrastructure required to encourage social content from visitors, locals and businesses.

The destination itself does not have to be social, just the visitors.

Let’s go beyond the theory and introduce concrete ideas and examples for tourism destinations to build social infrastructure.

10 Ideas to Build Social Infrastructure

The Instagram Picture SpotThe Instagram Picture Spot
If you have been to Disneyland, . Typically sponsored by Kodak, the small sign highlights a point of interest and shows confused tourists how to stand in a row. The perfect way to encourage more photo sharing in your destination.

Build it, sponsor it and slap an Instagram #hashtag on it.

Building a Sign
Better yet, build a big sign with your name on it…literally.

Free WiFi
after confirms that free WiFi is a big deal for tourists and travelers. Partner with local hotels and make sure free internet access is readily available.

Apparently, .

She is watching you.Twitter Avatars
than the New York Port Authority. Rather than holographic heads, why not create life-size cardboard cutouts of local twitter experts?

Place their @twitterhandle on the sign, tell people why they should follow and promote the local knowledge in your town.

Just as helpful, minus the scary moving eyes.

Social Farming
A lot of people create great content for tourists. I know, surprise, right? But those people have limited reach. For example, .

Why not expand the reach of those great guides? Take the content and add it to other social sites…Foodspotting, Foursquare, etc.

Make sure that social visitors find social content when they visit your destination. Regardless of who created it.

Promoting the Creative
Other people are just disgustingly creative. And they are being creative in and about your tourism destination. Take the . Photos of famous movie scenes reunited with their actual location in NYC.

If you have creative people in your community, promote them. Help them create tourist walks based on their content. Share their story.

Again, you don’t have to create the content, rather tell others about it.

Tweet Wall

Like the Canadian version, just less promotional. Live tweets of what is happening in your city…strategically placed at the luggage carousel in the airport.

Where people have time to kill.

Community Scoreboard
You know what motivates people? Hearing that their friends and peers are doing better than them. Create a social media report targeted at local hotels, restaurants and attractions, rank based upon interaction and publicly share that information.

And watch in amazement as people jump off of their asses to improve their social outreach to tourists.

Give Away Money
Follow that community scoreboard up with a giveaway. $100k to the hotel that receives the most positive reviews on TripAdvisor. Or the most check-ins on Foursqaure. Or the most positive tweets.

Keeping score and giving out cash.

Social motivation.

Internal Apps
Forget building mobile and tablet apps for tourists. Too much competition. Instead, why not build a mobile app for the front-line employees in your destination?

An app for the concierge professionals.

An app that makes the front-line ambassadors smarter. An app that answers questions. An app to ensure that no tourist tweets a question in vain.

Long-term or short-term?

The ideas above are simply a start. A way to illustrate the theory of social infrastructure. An inspirational list to get your tourism destination to think beyond the basic Facebook profile.

Ask yourself this.

Would on long-term social infrastructure projects like the ones listed above, instead of the short-term social buzz from their current campaign?

Free WiFi sounds pretty good.

  • David Mora

    Ain’t that fu**ing simple and brilliant?! All I can say is thank you and congrats!

    • / Troy Thompson

      Hey David,

      Thank you sir, great fu**ing comment.

      - Troy

  • Anna Pollock

    Troy – you’re always succinct, creative, replete with examples, and of practical use to your readers. I’ve long been a proponent of the concept of destination organisations being enablers rather than doers but hadn’t ever spelled it so clearly. The term Social Infrastructure is perfect. Thank you.

    • / Troy Thompson

      Thanks Anna,

      Appreciate the comment and the kudos, thank you.

      I love that phrase…enablers rather than doers.

      You are correct, agencies, consultants, even internal DMO staff have been focused on the doing, rather than the enabling. Of course, a whole bunch of social media gurus would lose clients with such a recommendation…which is why they don’t make it.

      But for the tourism destination, the umbrella body that represents the entire destination, it makes sense to support rather the socialize.

      - Troy

  • / Troy Thompson

    Thanks for the comment, and the great example.

    - Troy

  • JEBworks

    Great creative ideas, Troy! They should get those DMO brain cells going (if they are smart!) and keep you on their list of popular speakers/moderators for quite some time. Be ready to pack your bags, I guess!

    Like the idea of free Wi-fi across the destination. Have proposed it to Davos a number of years ago as they could get huge media coverage during the World Economic Forum. Not that those participants worry about blowing up their data plan, but for regular folks from abroad, to be able to use their smartphones to the fullest without looking for a hotspot would give social sharing a big boost.