Local Solutions for Ulster Country Tourism
In my last blog post, How Ulster County Can Use Social Media to Promote Tourism, I expressed my feelings after attending the Ulster Tourism Conference. Based on almost half of the topics that were promoted for the event (Viral marketing via YouTube and other social media, Effective public relations in a digital age, Influencing travelers’ decision through online media) , and the presentation, I did feel that it was a missed opportunity to bring the industry players together and teach them how to work together with social media to benefit Ulster County Tourism and our economy overall.
So, until the Tourism Advisory Committee sends me my engraved invitation to join with promises to listen with baited breath to every word I utter, I’m going to present some of the social media tactics that we encourage our clients to use her at DragonSearch. Of course, I have personalized it for Ulster Country Tourism, but really any small business of struggling industry can apply to their own marketing.
Every Local Ulster Business Owner and Employee Should:
Start with Facebook
Every single person there should have their own profile on Facebook. I don’t care if you don’t think you like it or if you are worried that some old friend you don’t want to speak to might find you. Learn how to ignore requests and block people. Make privacy lists and segregate your friends from family from work relationships. It’s not that hard. 85 year old grandmas are doing it. Get over it and sign up.
At this point, Facebook is a great place to start because there are over half a billion users and just in a 50 mile radius to Kingston alone; there are 107,040 people on Facebook over the age of 18. If that gets expanded, then we see almost 6 million people in the New York City market. Furthermore, if we narrow it down, say just thinking about tourism, we can see the numbers even better. I know that in most households, mom is the one who ends up deciding and where to go and what to plan, so I punched in the numbers for women over age 25 who are married within 50 miles of NY and found 774,280 on Facebook. Or say you are promoting a wedding venue? There are over 100,000 people on Facebook who are engaged in the NY area and might be interested in your wedding packages. Or men who like hiking? There are 24,020 waiting to see your page about your Hudson valley hiking adventures!
See all those potentioal customers? Give Facebook a chance. Look for people you know and be friendly. Look for things that amuse you and share them. Read what other people you know are doing. Support local business by simply clicking that you “like” them. There is a reason so many people have joined and are doing it. It’s fun and easy.
If you have a business or a brand to market in any way, then you need to create a Public Profile page (used to be called a “fan” page). It’s also really easy. Seriously, it sounds a lot harder than it looks, but it’s really not. All you do is follow the directions, click on links and provide simple information. Add a picture and ta-da! You have a Facebook page for your business.
Then you ask your friends on Facebook to “like” it. Keep sharing interesting links. They don’t have to be something extraordinary or beyond witty. Just share things that you might happen to find out about during the day. Add your events and invite people. Respond if someone writes something on the page. Again, we are not talking rocket surgery here.
Then once you have a page up and running, it’s really simple to incorporate simple social media routines into your daily activities. Take a look at how a local nonprofit group uses Facebook as their main communication point for their work. I really can’t deal with it when people tell me that they have no time to even try something new. It can take minutes to check your Facebook page. It’s really no different than checking your email. If you are in a business that uses email, then you need to be involved in social media.
Local Ulster Support Starts Local
Every business owner and local resident should do their small part and help support other local businesses and residents. Openly share other’s marketing materials by liking and sharing their events and pages. The Ulster Tourism board talked about working together to get things done. I see a room full of people with a common goal and I think: if 50 people in this room each know 50 people, and everyone pools their resources and openly supports each other, then immediately every marketing message gets out to 2500 relevant potential customers. And if they share it and say 10 friends of the 2500 find the promoted item somewhat appealing and share it, then the possible audience is now 25,000. That’s the power of social media. If you make it clickable, then it will be seen.
Once you have mastered Facebook and feel comfortable with that, then add LinkedIn next or try Twitter. The same basic concepts apply. Be active in the name of your business, be interesting, and be generous. My favorite social media quote of the week is:
“Generosity is a strategy with a positive ROI”
I tell you, you never know where the long tail of social media can take you!
The Job of the Ulster County Tourism Board
- I think they have the right idea with trying to bring all members together, but they are using old tools to make it happen in a new marketplace. What Ulster County Tourism needs to do is to become that central spoke of the communication wheel where all things come together so they can get shared and supported. I sit here and think it through, what would really be perfect is a social sharing site dedicated to Ulster Tourism. The beautiful thing though is that there is no need to reinvent the wheel as Facebook already makes that so easy. So the proper use of social media tools makes it quick and effective and often free!
- On the UlsterCountyAlive website, the addition of social sharing buttons immediately would be a vast improvement. Every website should make things as easy to spread about and link to as possible. It’s just ridiculous not to.
- Ulster Tourism should curate a Twitter List of local people and local business. Yes, Twitter is a great way to get interesting things out to people with similar interests. It’s a free and easy marketing service that is fun and easy to master. Do you see a theme here? Again, I feel there is no excuse to not to work Twitter into a daily routine.
- I would want to see each and every person who cares about Ulster Country Tourism to make a Yahoo Upcoming account for their business or restaurant or whatever. I would like every single person to add everything that they could think of that makes their Ulster spot memorable; a chili cook off, a live event, a book signing, and art opening. Then I would feed them to a ton of places! Links to the events can be tweeted and the feed can generate Facebook updates. Then everyone can just make a point of checking a central Facebook URL to share the information. All it would take is a little planning and people being responsible for their part…instant mass marketing to target audiences.
There is so much that could be accomplished by people connecting in a likeminded environment. I haven’t even mentioned either blogging or connecting with bloggers, and the mighty blog got nary a mention at the conference today. I could go on and on with all these promotional ideas and things that could be done to really get the word out about the wonders of Ulster Country to drive traffic, literally, here, but this post is already well past being overbearingly long.
The bottom line is though; social media is a fun, free and fabulous marketing tool that should be embraced much more in this area. Like anything new, it’s going to be a bit intimidating until you get to know it, but if you never jump in, you’ll never get your feet wet.
To quote a brilliant piece of marketing history: Just Do It!