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?

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…]

Small Towns and Small Business are Off to See the Wizard(s)

140 Character Conference TOTO, I CAN’T WAIT TO BE IN KANSAS…

and am looking forward to meeting a few hundred small town wizards at Jeff Pulver’s 140 Characters Conference Small Town

On September 20th hundreds of small town and small business enthusiasts will convene in Hutchinson, Kansas to share their own “State of Now” stories regarding how social media is helping and enhancing not only rural America but those in small towns around the world. 

I’m coming from California to attend this conference.

As Becky McCray (co-host of the event) posted recently:

This is not just a Kansas event. It’s not a local 140. It’s an international event that happens to be held in Kansas. 

And it’s the only international “high tech” event to talk small towns and go to a small town to do it.

Just how AWESOME is that?

There are plenty of comparisons that one can draw between the Wizard of Oz and those who live in small towns and are participating in the “State of Now” via social media.

Here are 3 that I came up with (as cheesy as you might think these are):

1.  The Wizard of Oz is about self-sufficiency.  That’s huge in rural areas.  But at the same time those who live and work in small towns know the value of getting those in your community to come together to help out.  That’s a big part of small town living ~ knowing and helping your neighbors.  It doesn’t matter where you live geographically, social media now gives each of us a chance to either develop our own small towns (meaning our connections via our own social media platforms) or become part of one by finding our own niches.

2.  At the 140 Characters Conference Small Town we’ll hear lots of social media success stories regarding how qualities such as courage and heart converge to help small towns and small businesses.  I bet we’ll also see how those same qualities can transfer from rural areas to be used quite well in big cities too.

3.  The Wizard of Oz is about hope.  The characters in the book are hopeful that if they work hard they’ll get what they want and will be rewarded in the end.  Those living and working in small towns know and live that same scenario, with the “end” being the quality of life that one finds in a small town.  At this conference we’ll hear how and why social media is helping make life easier for those living and working in small towns.

So the bottom line is ~ whether you live in a small town or are part of a small community via social media, the 140 Characters Conference Small Town is for you.  We’re coming together from all over the country to share small town experiences, learn from each other, and enjoy the love of small town life that we all have.  I CAN”T WAIT to get to Kansas and I look forward to meeting you there!

Register for the 140 Characters Conference Small Town here.


Small Business Tough Love


Stop Whining and Transform Your Small Business with Social Media


Small Business Tough LoveIt ISN’T small business as usual anymore.  The small business climate ISN’T predictable.  This ISN’T the time to rely on your old small business marketing practices.  And there certainly ISN’T time to spend complaining about what’s happening with your small business.

I hear all walks of businesses whining constantly about our tough times.  But mostly though, that’s all it is….whining.  So many small businesses are not taking advantage of social media and what it can offer them.  Instead they spend their time whining and talking about how things used to be.  They blame the economy, the consumer, the weather and anything else that they possibly can.

We all have to deal with the economy.  It’s how you choose to react to it that is your defining moment in small business.

My opinion – from what I have experienced and listened to for the past couple of years is: [Read more…]

Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button Youtube button