Trampled by Technology

Just a Small Town Girl trampled by technologyThe last time I blogged for this site, my own site, was March 2013.  That’s when I was trampled by technology.  Have you let technology trample you?

After reading my first draft of this post I actually said out loud, “Really, Leslie? That’s not what happened!”  I wasn’t trampled by technology. After some introspection I realized that this post really is about priorities and it took me writing the first draft to realize I was using technology as a crutch, an excuse.  Instead of stating that I was trampled by technology, I should have been owning up to the fact that this blog wasn’t one of my priorities. It’s a bit hard to swallow, that I really haven’t been trampled by technology, but that I’ve had my priorities screwed up.

Last March I took on a tourism consulting project for a region in Southern California, it had to be built from scratch.  That meant developing a website, starting the social sites, launch it all, and once again, being a one person marketing department.  The launch of this destination marketing program was in July and now the ongoing focus is to grow awareness for the region via social media and online marketing.  While this was happening I agreed to partner on another start up endeavor ~ marketing social media to associations and large meetings. Once again, build a website, start the social media, get the business launched and grow it.  All the while Tourism Currents (with awesome partners Sheila Scarborough and Becky McCray) was going full speed ahead with more subscribers than ever, a super strong social media program and lots of training and speaking engagements.

Practice what you preach!

At Tourism Currents we train and talk a lot about putting your efforts into a couple of online platforms and doing them well.  We also stress priorities.  Talk about NOT practicing what you preach!  During 2013 I said many times that technology, all that I was doing online, was keeping me from this site.  I was having to write too many blogs and social media posts for others which put me on technology overload and couldn’t do anything for my own site.  But let’s be truthful here, I simply didn’t have my priorities set with this site in mind.

It’s all about the “P” word

While both of the new projects are coming along, this site has been left in the dust. I knew I needed to start blogging here again or simply let Just A Small Town Girl go.  Marketing with small budgets, stretching marketing dollars – that’s what this site is all about.  For the past 10 months I should have made it a priority to share the good and the bad of these startup experiences.  I chose to let this blog take a back seat, it wasn’t one of my priorities. Everyone is busy these days, it’s not that we don’t have time for everything, it’s that we don’t make certain things a priority.

So many people write about priorities at the beginning of the year. I’ve NEVER thought about writing a post about priorities.  Blaming technology for my lack of blogging is nothing short of cringe-worthy now that I’ve realized what my real problem is. I’m glad I figured it out before I published a really dumb post.

Have you been in these shoes before? Have an experience like this that you’d like to share?  I hope this inspires you to look a little deeper and not necessarily accept the excuses that you make for yourself.  I can see this post becoming an addition to upcoming trainings!

If you’d like to take a look, the two new projects I took on in 2013 can be found here:


Social Media Do Over

How many of us wish we could have a social media do over? Social Media Tourism Marketing Do Over

Remember when we first started out, oh so long ago? At the time, it seemed like we were artists, painting each piece of the social media puzzle individually, hoping that some sort of cohesive marketing design would appear.  How many times have you looked back and said “If I had it to do over again, I would have done it differently?”

Social Media “Coulda Woulda”

For those who were traditional marketers that embraced social media early on, there wasn’t time for the “coulda woulda” mentality. We were all in the same boat – trying to keep our heads above water and stay one step ahead of the social media curve.  We didn’t have a choice, we needed to incorporate social media with the traditional marketing we already had in place.

As luck would have it, I get to have a social media do over.   The city of San Jacinto, CA has contracted with me to build a tourism marketing program from scratch.  We will be starting from nothing and building something brand new.  The tourism community is very excited, as am I.

Flip your social media mentality

What would you do if you had the chance to start over with a clean canvas, if you could have a social media do over?  I posed this question to a tourism group on Facebook and William Bakker of Think! Social Media provided a great insight.  He wrote:

“Put social at the core. Instead of building marketing programs and digital channels and use social to support them, start with social and build digital and other channels to support social.”

Perfect advice!   Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and bloggers will be the first line of marketing in this particular tourism marketing program as opposed to brochures, direct mail and other traditional marketing tactics.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do think we need to have a balanced marketing effort, and will still use some traditional methods, but social will be the focus and we’ll build out from there.

If you had an opportunity for a social media do over, what would you do?  What have you done?

eTourism Summit – Small and Mighty Tourism Conference Rules

Right off the bat I have to say, “eTourism Summit is one tourism conference you really should attend!”  While we all attend a variety of tourism conferences and educational events throughout the year, eTourism Summit is different.  It’s intimate, only 200 can attend. Because of the small number of in attendance,  you are immersed in the stellar education offered and you get to really connect with others in tourism.

This year I was able to share my experience marketing the resort destination of Lake Arrowhead, CA. for 2 years with no budget, primarily via Twitter.  I shared the session with Melissa Barnes, Marketing Strategy, from Twitter and Ali Daniels, Director of Marketing, Seattle CVB and from all accounts our Twitter session rocked!

eTourism Summit visit to Facebook

A special field trip was arranged for some eTourism Summit attendees!

Jake Steinman, founder of eTourism Summit, offered something very special to some of us the day before eTourism officially started and that was a trip to Facebook headquarters.  Approximately 60 people attended.  We were in 2 groups that  participated in a workshop and had time for lunch on the “campus” too.  It was really something getting a glimpse of what it’s like to actually work there.  And, by the way, according to an employee there, Mark Zuckerberg feels that Facebook is only “1% percent finished with its journey.”  How about that?

The two days of the actual conference had 3 separate tracks (you could choose any track at any time) filled with sessions such as:

Brand USA's presentation at eTourism Summit

Keri Hanson, Digital Marketing Manager, Brand USA and Chris Adams, VP Research, Miles present at eTourism Summit

How Facebook Has Evolved and What it Means to Tourism Marketers

The State of Mobile Marketing from a Tourism Marketer’s Perspective

The Changing Role of Travel Bloggers from Journalists to Paid “Wanderers-in-Residence”

Paid Advertising Programs on Digital Platforms. Options Coop/PPC vs CPM, which is more relevant?

The Super Panel: Experts from all four leading digital media brands – Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – offer their insights and perspectives on how travel companies can best use their platforms.

eTourism Summit offers a great deal of content for attendees – all levels of experience learn here.  There is a speed-dating component where those in attendance can connect one on one with presenters as well as each morning you can take part in moderated roundtable discussions during breakfast.  The first morning I moderated the “Kissing Up to Bloggers” roundtable and brought those who participated up to speed regarding TBEX and how to work with bloggers on their terms.

With the size of the conference limited (which means you must register early for this event each year) the opportunities for networking as well as the educational component are exceptional and once again let us say ~ This is a conference that you should put into your budget and plan on attending.  eTourism Summit is so worth it!

Tourism Events, Social Media, and an Outstanding FITA 2012

Tourism events highlights at FITA 2012In tourism, we all want the same thing – more visitors. And to do that we provide a variety of tourism events and great personal experiences.  Nowhere was I more aware of that than at FITA 2012 in Mexico City in September.  As a first timer to FITA, I was amazed by the size and scope of this particular travel trade show.

Tourism events from around the world at FITA 2012


It truly was international with countries from all over the world represented. Now I’ve attended my fair share of global tourism tradeshows over the years, but FITA was mammoth and the booths were the best I have ever seen.

Good Grief!  We have the same tourism events!!

Each country featured their various destinations as well as highlighting their variety of events.  The second day of the show I attended a press conference that is the basis for this post.  The conference, by the state of Quintana Roo, showcased their upcoming tourism events.  Film festivals, jazz festivals, sporting events…they all play a big part in the annual calendar for the state.  If you’re in destination marketing, I bet you’re planning the exact same type of tourism events for your area too.  Riviera Maya is having a film festival followed by a jazz festival featuring jazz great Poncho Sanchez.  Well guess what?  In my small community we do the exact same thing, in the exact same order and this year our jazz festival featured none other than Poncho Sanchez.  How many of you are in the planning stages for your next film and jazz festivals?

Our tourism efforts are all fairly similar

Yes, we all seem to be working on the same things with regard to tourism.  FITA 2012 really brought to my attention how similar our tourism efforts are globally.  But why are some destinations more successful than others with their events?  Yes, you can say budget plays a big part in how successful events are, but I don’t think that has to be key anymore.

Promotion, connection, and engagement are what make events successful these days.  By using all social media channels, you can build your audience and build the success of your event.  Utilizing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, even Foodspotting you can reach a variety of audiences and grow your attendance.

FITA 2012 did an excellent job with their social media

Tourism was on display at FITA 2012

FITA did a tremendous job via Facebook and Twitter this year.  Their posts, 3 and 4 times per day, got me excited before I went – their Facebook presence in particular was stellar.  FITA also retweeted the tweets I made from the event almost immediately. I would give them no less than a 10 for the job that their social media team did.

So as we’re all planning tourism events, remember that so many of our events are the same and tweak your thinking as to how you can grow your attendance by being more social, by engaging more people and continually building up your event via social media.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much money you put towards something, it’s the extra mileage that you receive from those who you excite that can make or break your event.


Social Media Listening – Toby Keith Rocks!

Social Media Listening by Toby Keith


One of the best parts of social media is listening.

BUT, there are plenty of social media participants who aren’t listening.  I had a super experience a couple of weeks ago when someone listened (along with a whole bunch of other people) and it was such a nice surprise.

We had tickets to see Toby Keith at San Manuel Amphitheater in Southern California.  Now I knew Toby was filming a video for his new song at the concert.  It was broadcast that everyone should make a sign.  I made a clever (at least I thought it was clever) sign for my husband to take.  The afternoon of the day of the concert I checked out the Twitter stream for Toby Keith and there was an announcement to tweet a photo of your sign.  So I did.

About an hour later my phone started going crazy as I was getting congratulatory tweets from fans across the county.  Toby’s social media team had seen the photo, they were listening to the social media chatter, and suddenly my seats were upgraded.  Now, HOW COOL is that?!?  We had a great time, loved our seats and loved connecting with so many other Toby Keith fans across the country who had witnessed what transpired.

Are you listening to what’s happening around you via social media?

I’m sure you know you need to, but are you making listening easy on yourself by using Hootsuite or Tweetdeck or any of the other social media listening tools available?  This is something vital that you absolutely must do.

Just think how happy you would make your customers if you responded to what they were saying and doing via social media, just like Toby’s people responded to me.  I know how happy and totally surprised I was that his social media team was listening.  While I already was a big Toby Keith fan, I will always use every opportunity I can to tell others what an awesome experience we had.

What kind of cool social media listening experiences have you had?  Hope you’ll share below!

Social Media Training for Tourism and Hospitality

 Leslie McLellan joins Tourism CurrentsHave you heard of Tourism Currents, where tourism and hospitality professionals learn to market using   social media?

If you’re involved with a destination marketing organization (DMO), convention and visitor bureau (CVB), chamber of commerce, resort association or involved in tourism and hospitality social media in any way, you’ve probably crossed paths with Becky McCray and Sheila Scarborough.

Tourism Currents is expanding and I’m so excited to say that I’m joining Becky and Sheila to help tourism and hospitality professionals enhance their marketing via social media.  As a DMO and a user of social media for marketing since early 2009, I’ve been where many tourism marketers are right now – struggling to make the most of their limited marketing dollars.  When integrated into your marketing program, social media can be like Winning the Lottery.  I know this, as it made all the difference in the world to me and Lake Arrowhead, CA.

I made a short introduction video for Tourism Currents followers ~ here it is for you to see:


So if you don’t already follow Tourism Currents via social media, here is how you can connect and be sure to sign up for the newsletter:

Twitter: !/TourismCurrents



Let me say once again how THRILLED I am to be joining Tourism Currents and I look forward to partnering with anyone in tourism and hospitality who needs a little help getting the word out to bring visitors to their destinations and businesses.


Are You Social Media Snappish?

Don't be social media snappishWhat draws you to social media?   Is it the conversation, the links to articles, is it that most people enjoy each other and are generally happy to be posting?  A goal most of us have with social media is to stand out for providing value to our friends and followers.  If you’re social media snappish, you certainly stand out…in a bad way.

So just what is “social media snappish?”

Remember Ally McBeal – a popular TV show from the 1990’s?  Recently I received the complete set of Ally McBeal DVD’s as a gift and have been enjoying watching one of my all-time favorite shows.  In one of the first episodes, Richard Fish says something not-so-nice to Elaine and she replies “snappish.”  It just so happened that later that day I was participating on a Twitter chat and someone said something not-so-nice and I immediately thought “snappish!”

Since that day I have watched this individual behave snappishly on a few different chats, the posts this person writes also have that tone.  Snappish is a bad character trait to have.  This person is not friendly, doesn’t seem to get the meaning of the word social and certainly doesn’t embrace the “happiness” that is generally found via social media.  This person isn’t the only one that I’ve noticed recently ~ now that being snappish is in the forefront of my mind.  There’s a handful who behave like this.  They never seem to be happy; they are always in a snappish state of mind.

If you’re not connecting, social media isn’t for you!

What’s interesting about those that are social media snappish is that they don’t really connect with others.

If you don’t connect with others, if you’re not building relationships, what good is social media?  It’s the sharing, the conversations, and the friendships that are built online that make social media such a wonderful tool for all of us.

There really is no room for being social media snappish.

I wonder if this individual realizes that they aren’t connecting.  I’ve gone through my friends and followers and have deleted the few snappish people I was linked to.  Most of us are looking for value, positive messages, and insightful posts.  Someone with the social media snappish character trait is not offering anything of value to those who have chosen to connect with them.

There’s not many of them out there, but they do tend to stand out in a very non-positive way.  I wonder if they really think about what they’re posting, I wonder what they think social media is going to do for them and their business when they clearly don’t get what social media is all about.

How do you handle snappishness?

While I notice this snappishness more now since watching Ally McBeal, I also simply ignore those who exhibit this trait and continue on.

How do you deal with social media snappish people?  Were you a fan of Ally McBeal?  (The dancing baby was my first screen saver ever…)



How to Create a Community within a Community

Building a Social Media Community to stretch marketingWhen you have very little money to spend on marketing, you’re constantly trying to think up ways to stretch your reach.  We had great help getting our Social Media program off the ground initially by asking others (tourists) to help us spread the word about events they were attending – crowdsourcing at its finest.  Several months ago I started wondering if the same type of program would work by enlisting those in the community who are using Social Media, or want to use it, to assist in the marketing of our destination.  Since 2009 we have been marketing our area primarily via Social Media due to lack of marketing dollars.  It has been exciting, exhilarating, and extremely grueling.  And as time has gone on, as a department of one, the need for help has been growing and growing.  I had an idea of what could be done, but there never seemed time to get all the pieces together.  (Bet that sounds familiar doesn’t it?).


The Creation of a Community within a Community

Our small town recognizes the importance of Social Media, but our small businesses have not really embraced it due to lack of knowledge and feelings of intimidation.  Since our community is made up of a variety of small businesses, I want to help them use about Social Media and in turn hope that they will assist in promoting the destination to their friends and followers.  The end result is to build a strong Social Media Community within our own Community.  This could be a win for everyone –  a win for our small businesses as they will have a group of others helping to promote each of them and a win for our destination as we’ll get some help promoting the area.

It seemed like the best way to go about this was to host a Social Media Meetup.  The first one was held at the end of 2011.  Anyone could attend.  You did not have to be affiliated with any organization.  At the Meetup we had 35 people representing 28 businesses. It was quite a mix of people – from those who use Social Media to those who hope to use it in the future and are looking to get started.

The first Meetup covered the following items:

  1. The purpose of the Meetup group – Education
  2. How we can help each other – Using Social Media to help promote each other
  3. What they would like to see covered at future Meetups
  4. Provided each attendee with a page of posts that could be used throughout the next 30 day period covering events and activities around the area.

For resort area marketing, you have to sell the destination first.  After that you can “drill down” to small businesses that make up the community.  We all have times when we can’t think of what to post, so by all of us combining what we’re offering, we should be able to post more frequently and extend the reach of not only the destination but our small businesses as well.


Building a Community within a Community

Will this work?  I don’t know…I sure hope so.  Our second Meetup is on the horizon and we have a full agenda including:

  1. Facebook Timeline overview
  2. Who to Follow on Twitter and Facebook – we will share monthly who has provided great content links for the group to follow
  3. Discussion regarding social media advantages for small business
  4. Monthly Q & A session
  5. Distribution of social media posts to use for the following month

Each Meetup is scheduled to be no longer than 1 ½ hours long.  We’ll see how it goes ~ I’ll keep you posted!


The Goal of the Social Media Community within our own Community

It’s simple. To crowdsource our efforts to increase awareness about each of our small businesses as well as the destination.  Let’s hope that by the end of the year we have a strong Meetup group that continues to develop and we can each look at our own marketing statistics and see that our Social Media efforts have grown.

Do you have something like this in your community?  If so, please share what you’re doing and let us know what is working for you.



BlogWorld – The Ultimate Social Media Melting Pot


Doug Anwieler and Leslie Saint McLellan at BlogWorld - The Ultimate Social Media Melting Pot


With social media as the common thread, all walks of social media life came together as thousands of individuals from small towns and big cities met in Los Angeles for 3 days at BlogWorld/New Media Expo in November.  Billed as the largest new media conference in the world, in my mind BlogWorld is the ultimate social media melting pot.

I was fortunate enough to be there both as an attendee and as a speaker and feel so privileged to have been part of it.  We came to learn new aspects of the business of social media, network, and share our passion for the industry we work and spend most of our waking moments in.  We came to be a part of this ultimate social media melting pot. [Read more…]

Master Word of Mouth Marketing for Small Towns and Small Business

Small Town Small BusinessI remember leaving my high school campus during lunch and driving to the local A&W for their awesome corn dogs.  I also remember very vividly the day the manager changed and the corn dogs became soggy.  The high school crowd quickly stopped going there.  Growing up in a small town, if you had a bad experience at a small business the news spread quickly and there was a good chance that you and your friends wouldn’t be going back to that business anytime soon.  Small towns epitomize the good and the bad of word of mouth marketing. [Read more…]

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