Fifth World Art by Robert Neff

How Tourism Can Leverage Social Media

by Robert Neff | 16 Sep 2014

Tourism can leverage social media at a lower price point and save marketing dollars! However, very few of the bureaus, Chamber of Commerce, states, cities and area brands are responsive or engaged to realize a cost savings.

My advice is simple and cost effective. To increase tourism conversation about the area, the visits, chambers must be watching the local conversations, brands, and hashtags. While this is a first step, this is not enough. Move beyond the "Like or Favorite" and to retweet and engage. To excite and leverage tourism, these options are the most effective and least expensive approach.

I travel, cover tourism and share my content with my followers but also engage with local influencers and those supporting the local hashtags. I can easily generate 9,000 views of my images in a day. My business model has been successfully replicated.

I purposely follow and target to share with and engage the local tourism entities, such as the County Visitor Bureaus and Chambers of Chambers, as well as state tourism arms and influencers. Locally, I have made great friends this way. They have shared local gems that are not found on Google search. Some have even picked me up and given me tours, which, by the way, I do.

When using Twitter on the last DrivingTheDivas Adventure out West, I engaged several state tourism accounts. I found Visit Utah to be very responsive for a "favorite" and engaged, much so over VisitFlorida. Whereas Visit Wyoming, never responded. The Sundance Resort also engaged when I copied them.

Golden rule is to encourage conversation, which is a what all brands crave. User generated content can be seen, shared and easily measured! With the right combination of tools, results can be easily measured to provide justification.

Another part of the cost savings is social media can be used to manage and protect the brand. Tourism can take the area lead and also positon the brand to monitor and address any negative sentiment.

On the local level, I have found only one that does engage, support the community and manage the brand well. They are Visit St Pete Clearwater. On twitter, see @VSPC. Not only do they actively monitor social media, they favorite or like and engage!

In conclusion, tourism at all levels — States, County Visitors Bureaus, chambers and brands — are missing a great opportunity to leverage social media and engage at a lower price point. Same applies to local and marquee events, especially those run by the national and international associations, and leagues. It's all about managing the brand, driving traffic, measuring conversions. Then adjusting the message and call to action!

How would you rate your COUNTY or STATE "Visit" or Chamber? Tweet your thoughts using the hashtag #RateYourVisit and copy me at @5wa.


Robert Neff. @5wa, has architectured social media solutions for national events and brands. He has worked with national digital marketing companies to build digital strategies. Robert has organized and led social media command centers and community outreach to increase brand awareness. One national and international event resulted in over 46 million brand impressions over a four-day period. His solution combines photography with content, social media, and both on and off line channels.

When leading a social media solution, Robert Neff builds an integrated brand presence across all marketing channels. In addition, he understands ecommerce, SEO, paid search and User Interface design. Past experience includes Chief Web Operations at the United States Mint and an e-commerce executive in luxury and consumer goods. Last year, Robert had 1.13+ combined views and is on track this year to exceed 2 million. LinkedIn.

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Dandelion Puff. Grand Tetons, Wyoming
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