Destination Marketing Has Gone Social

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With the advent of social media and smartphones, destination marketing has changed. The days of dad hunching over a road map at the wheel, while mom asks aunt Ethel where that museum is, are gone. Nowadays, dad navigates using the GPS on his iPhone while mom checks foursquare for recommendations on top local attractions. People still rely upon their friends’ advice in unfamiliar places, but word of mouth is rapidly being replaced by word of tweet or Facebook post.

Thanks to this social technology, the goal is no longer just to get travelers to a certain destination. The goal is to get them to spread the word about it once they arrive. The growing popularity of tablets and smartphones means the ways in which people share are virtually limitless. Whether it’s in a written or video format, if you can get people to share their positive experiences about your community, attraction or business online, chances are their friends will become visitors themselves.

Guaranteeing this level of consumer interaction is not always a simple task. There are hordes of companies investing considerable amounts of money to promote and develop their social strategies. There’s also an ever-expanding list of social media outlets to consider, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and foursquare.

Fortunately for destination marketers, there’s one basic principle that holds true regardless of your location or business — your product must make an impression. That means creating something that will make people take notice and want to share it on the web. So start with training your staff to provide exceptional service and making certain your facilities are spotless and safe for visitors. In other words, “wow” them so they have something positive to talk about. Then work with your web and social media teams to develop a cohesive online presence that allows your guests to engage with your brand before, during and after their visit, all while sharing their experience with others. Possessing a strong online presence will also help make you more accessible to industry experts and thought leaders. Through blogs and other online outlets, these people are influential in providing advice and opinions to their followers. By swaying them towards your brand, you take a big step towards creating a positive online brand image.

Remember, destination marketing is not only about getting people to your area or business, it’s about getting them back again and more importantly, getting them to tell their friends to head in your direction, too. Exploiting the power of today’s social media is the ideal roadmap to make that happen. Have a great summer!

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