I recently attended a workshop for local history folks. After listening to a presentation about Facebook, an elderly lady stood up and proudly announced, “My job is to communicate with the public. I don't do Facebook. I talk to real people on the telephone.”
The woman was a volunteer, not a paid staff member. Nevertheless, her comment was discouraging.
I’m not picking on volunteers. For many attractions and organizations, they are the difference between staying open and closing for good. But you cannot allow their attitudes toward social media to dictate your communication strategy.
Regardless of what your volunteers or staff members think, your customers, potential visitors, donors, members and future volunteers - all of whom qualify as real people - are on social platforms. It's not the public's job to find you and adapt to the communication style and method you prefer. It is your job to find and connect with them.
Social platforms are neither good nor bad. Like the Internet itself, they are nothing more than tools. Communicating via social networks can be incredibly effective as well as efficient. They allow you to connect with your customers on a moment’s notice, attract new people, and build excitement over upcoming programs and events. And they’re free.
So where do you start? Twitter? Facebook? What about Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat? It's overwhelming. Who has time for this?
It's not necessary to master all the platforms. For most of us, establishing a presence on one platform will be enough. But which one?
You need to be where your customers and the people you hope will become your customers are. If you don’t know where that is, ask. Ask the people who visit your attraction. Ask your neighbors. While you’re standing in line at the grocery store ask the person next to you what platform he or she likes best.
If you don’t want to go through that exercise, start with Facebook. With more than one billion users, it’s safe to assume you’ll find an audience there.
A Loss for Words
Once you've figured out where to focus your energy, what do you post about? What if you run out of material?
We recently published a series on finding and using vintage images. One of the posts focuses on social media, especially Facebook. We discuss the different types of posts, how often to post, and share tips on effectively incorporating images. The article includes lots of ideas, suggestions and ways history groups and local tourism organizations can use the platform to promote and raise awareness of their programs and activities. You can read it by clicking here.
There’s no question you can super charge your marketing efforts with social media. But these platforms are essentially gigantic websites owned by someone else. You don’t own your organization's Facebook page in other words. Facebook does. To explore that concept further, check out our article on Digital Sharecropping.
There is another category of social platforms that deserves our attention – travel review sites. Many of us are overlooking this group, which includes Trip Advisor and Yelp, completely. People are talking about you behind your back. That can be a good or a bad thing. It depends on what they’re saying. We’ll dig into that next time.