Archive for May, 2010

Angrily Travelling to New York

May 28, 2010

As you are reading this, I am currently locked in a car… with Mike… for six or so hours.  There is a very good possibility that I’m holding a sign up to the window that says, “Help me.”  Or that I’ve killed him.

Love is a wonderful thing and in our case, a special thing.  Although I will mention him briefly from time, it’s going to be rare that I actually talk about him in depth.  See, Mike has chosen not to participate in the social space and as his not-his-wife, I have chosen to honor that to the extent that I can reasonably do so, although it is ever so hard.

The problem with us is that we are both fiercely independent and stubborn.  Add to that the fact that we both are socially awkward and well… you have comedy gold.  To not be able to talk about this comedy…  You don’t know how hard that is.  His usual statement to me is, “This is not to go up on Facebook.”  My usual threat to him, “If you piss me off, I’m going to talk about you on Twitter.”  And now I have this blog where I could really get into the juicy stuff.  Yes, my friends, it is such a great temptation.

So here we are right now, trapped in a car for more time than we usually spend together over the course of the work week.  Music will be argued, driving styles will be commented on and we will tell each other to shut the hell up at least ten times an hour.  But this is love and it makes us pretty happy.

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Should My CVB Sign Up for a Foursquare Account?

May 27, 2010

Hey, let’s make this the shortest blog post ever: YES!

Wait, you want more than that?  Oh, alright.

In addition to claiming your location by identifying yourself as the manager, your CVB should also create an account.  This is not to say you should have your biggest partier take over the account and actively tweet out their random check-ins using the CVB Twitter account.  That would be bad and not just because I would hate to see what that person would check into and tweet out at 3 am on a Saturday morning.

AFTER you have had some experience using the service via a personal account, you should create the CVB account.  The next thing you should do?  Make sure all of your members are listed on it.  If they are not, list them.  Not only will that get you rad mega points that will put you ahead of everyone on the leaderboard, but it will also be good for those member locations to be listed everywhere you can list them.

Then, you need to spend some time talking to your members about the service.  Educate them about it and let them know that you are experimenting with it to see how it will benefit both you as a CVB and them.  Show them how they can claim their location and the business tools that they can use to enhance their experience.  From there, you need to discuss with them what makes their business unique, although you probably should already know this.

Your next step?  Start leaving tips like a two dollar hooker.  Make sure you have a tip on every member location.  What should these tips be?  Well, definitely not something like, “You should eat here.  It’s good.”  It should be something like, “Don’t even think about it.  Just order the poblano soup.  You can thank us later,” or “Did you know that they have half-priced pizza on Tuesdays?  Our favorite is the veggie.”  In other words, use that little tid bit that you discussed with your member locations that make them unique and will provide some kind of “insider information” to a potential visitor.

Wow, that was a lot of work.  Oh, but crap, there’s more.  The infamous check-ins.  Once again, DO NOT randomly check-in to places and tweet them out.  Have a cohesive plan for the check-ins.  For example, check-in to the major events you have and tweet them out to explain what is going on.  That is a very good use of Foursquare.  Unlike an individual who can feel free to check-in wherever, every check-in needs to mean something for your CVB.  Random check-ins add no value and are therefore, not worth your time.

This is just the basics.  There are a lot more things you can do via Foursquare, but if you do everything above, you will be in very good shape and anything else will be cake.  Now who is actually doing this?

Why I’m Not That Into Having a Large Follower Base

May 26, 2010

A while ago, I all of a sudden had a jump in my follower count and realized there were some creepy people that I had never tweeted with replying to my tweets.  Although I knew that my cute wit usually does make the creepy guys come a-callin’, I figured something had happened and searched for the source of the issue.  Yup, I had written a funny tweet about my obsessive need to be mayor of MY Starbucks and @Starbucks retweeted it.

My first reaction was, “Crap,” but you know, with a slightly more foul tinge to it.  My first action: To write a tweet that has been repeated several times with a few variations on it.  It went sort of like this: “Hi new followers! Thanks for the follow. I am extremely boring and don’t tweet about Starbucks very often. You can unfollow now.”

Why do I write tweets like that?  Didn’t I just hit the proverbial mother of all retweets and should be beyond ecstatic with all of the new followers?  Eh, not really.  See these people were following me because Starbucks decided I had something interesting to say.  The problem with that is that I rarely have something interesting to say to people that would follow Starbucks.  I mostly talk about social media in tourism and associations, as well as my silly life.  Every once in awhile, my silly life will be applicable to these followers (I do show my obsessive nature about my mayorship at least once a week), but for the most part, not so much.

My social media life has been built on the premise of creating relationships and strengthening those relationships both online and off.  Well, these new follows weren’t based on any kind of relationship and were probably not going to grow into one.  (I know…  I just disappointed a whole slew of creepy guys, but if it makes you guys feel any better, I’m older than I look and I am way too much trouble for you.)  So they were kind of a waste of my time and in the end theirs.

That’s why I was a little pissed about the Starbucks retweet.  I had to go through tweets in my reply feed that made me uncomfortable and these guys were trying to forge a relationship that wasn’t going to happen because it wasn’t mutually beneficial.  Does this make me a bitch?  I don’t think so, but definitely feel free to tell me I am in the comments.  I think this just shows that I have a limited amount of time (as I am sure these guys do) and want to make sure that this time is spent on possibly fruitful pursuits (once again, as I am sure these guys do).  Therefore, I am more concerned in finding those quality followers and am very rarely concerned with my follower count.

So can someone explain to me why you want quantity?  Besides, of course, that’s what my boss wants.

Developing a Social Media Training Group

May 25, 2010

Our running group after our 5k

On May 1st, I ran my second 5k and the boyfriend, Mike, ran his first.  This race went a lot better than my first.  I would like to say it was because of the support of a loving boyfriend, but yeah, we’re not that couple.  The difference was that we joined a running group.  Every Saturday morning (okay, maybe it was just most Saturdays), we would meet up and do a group run.  In addition, we would get a lesson on something related to running and a weekly email reinforcing that lesson.  Knowing that there were people expecting me to be there on Saturday mornings and getting that weekly email kept me going.  I got to the race and I made it through.

This got me thinking.  I have this same kind of setup on the social media sites I participate on.  It may not be as formal, but there are people that would miss me if I were gone and knowing this keeps me going.  Also, there are a number of people that I learn from and that reinforce these lessons by example.  So how did I get this lucky?  Work.  Lots and lots of work.  But lucky for you, I am willing to share with you exactly what that work was.

  1. I went to seminars and social events that centered around social media. Yes, I started out by not even participating on an actual site.  I found local mentors that were willing to share what they know and took advantage of that.  I will caution that when doing this that you should be careful of the Scheister McSchesitersons out there.  Look for those that are connected to reputable agencies and are not trying to sell you anything.  I assure you they are out there and are willing to help.  You just have to look.
  2. I followed these local mentors on their site(s) of choice and then I listened. Once again, there was no active participation.  I studied how they were using the sites and noted what I could take and make my own.  I also looked for those that they seemed to engage and followed them if they seemed to be applicable to what I was doing.
  3. I engaged when I knew I could add something of value. Don’t take this idea of “value” so seriously.  This can be as simple as encouraging the silliness of others.  Lord knows, this is how I have developed my most successful “training” group.  Just know that if someone is asking for something (whether they know it or not), don’t be afraid to give it to them if you can.
  4. Write valuable posts. Once again, don’t take this so seriously.  Value can be found in silliness.  If silliness is a part of your personality, put it in.  We are not looking for you to change your personality.  Mix that personality in with posts that include articles and blog posts about your areas of interest, and you will have a very valuable account.
  5. Rinse and repeat. Always start from that place of “I don’t know everything” and keep going through this cycle.  By doing that, you will continue learning and being that person that people miss when you are off-line.

Did you notice what all of this is?  Um, yeah, it is social media basics and um, yeah, it is how you get more followers.  I personally think the more followers thing is more of a curse than a blessing, but that is my issue and something I am sure I will address in a later post.  But if you are looking to be that person that is ahead of the game and with a bunch of people that you can call on when you need something, this is what you need to do.

Now to the discussion part of our program: Did I miss any steps?

Dear Politicians, You’re Doing It Wrong…

May 24, 2010

This post is very much a departure from what this blog is, but I feel strong enough about this that I feel compelled to write about it.

Has anyone else checked out these so-called social media accounts of politicians?  Whereas there are many politicians that I fully support and would like to help out, I am continually turned off by the fact that I struggle to find even one that does more than just barely show up.  They are having a great time of talking at us and have yet to learn how to talk with us.  I am sure many of them are thinking that social media is not worth it and use their follower counts to demonstrate the laziness of this new culture.

We are not lazy.  We want to help you.  We want to help amplify your voice.  Why won’t you let us?  Is it because you are scared of what will happen when you lose control of your message?  You already have.  Look at the countless websites, fan pages, blogs, etc that are out there.  If you are putting yourself out there publicly, you are being talked about in a way you may or may not like.

Is it because you are afraid of what will happen when you don’t put out a carefully crafted message?  I understand that worry, but I also think you need to understand something else: That carefully crafted message is no longer resonating with anyone.  We feel the fact that you have gone through several focus groups, have had many communications professionals and the top minds in politics today come up with what will hit home with the general public best.  We are uninterested and tuned out long ago because of this.

Am I asking you to speak Twitter language and tell us every thought that goes on in your head?  NO!  What I am asking you to do is to get a social media strategist onto your staff in either a professional or volunteer capacity to teach you how to talk to us and then come up with a fully integrated plan to do so.  Will this be easy?  Once again, no.  A good professional strategist will give you a plan that will a first seem time consuming and maybe even silly.  Give it time though and you will see that it very much integrates into the rest of your life.

Now, let me talk just a bit about what will happen if politicians don’t start heeding this advice.  There was a time where politicians only talked to their constituents in-person or via the radio.  And then the television came along.  I think we’re all familiar with how the Kennedy-Nixon Debate changed the landscape of American politics.  Technology changes things and in a big way.  Social media is reigning in the contest of the most authentic.  Those that don’t take up this challenge and believe in the power social media gives you will be left behind.  And worse, they will not be guaranteed that second chance that Nixon had.  And at this point, it is more of a question of when rather than if.  So who is ready?

No, Really… I’m Shy, I Promise

May 21, 2010

I was at happy hour recently talking to someone that I had met up with only once before.  I was chatting like a teenage girl on crack.  I caught myself and was surprised.  This was not normal.  I mentioned something to this new friend about how I am painfully shy and she replied, “Um, no you’re not.”  After my insistence that I really am quite shy, I realized it was a losing battle.

As much as I would love to say that it was the person (@prtini is fantastic after all), I think my love of social media has really brought out a brand new side of my personality.  I usually only talk around people that I have known for a long time and am extremely comfortable with.  The second that I feel uncomfortable, even around these long term friends, I shut up.  Get me around a room of experts on any topic and my brain goes blank.  You wouldn’t be able to get me to talk if you paid me.  This is just the way it always has been and I have always been comfortable with the fact that I will never be a good networker because of this.

Flash forward to now.  It is not unusual for you to see me in the center of a happy hour group and not awkwardly.  I’m gushing about how I figured out how to do something really cool, asking for details on how someone is doing something that I really admire and telling stories about Mike the Boyfriend.  I don’t even think twice about questioning people that I really respect in this field.  I also feel like if I were in a room of experts, I would not only be able to hold my own, but I would also start some arguments!

This has been a huge adjustment for me.  I have always claimed to hate people, but this new development has resulted in me seeking out more geeks.  I go out way more than I ever have and have become much more of a joiner to the point where Mike has asked me if I plan on being home any time soon.  (In answer to that Mike, no.  Being home would make me have to face everything I need to clean.)  It has all became a little disturbing, in more ways than one.

So in conclusion, where my geeks at?  Wanna grab a drink?

Unlock Your City by Unlocking Foursquare Badges

May 20, 2010

This past weekend, as many of you know, #Geekcation happened and it was a little crazy.  It was one of the more demanding vacations I’ve ever taken and it was one of the only vacations I know of that actually had a social media strategy.  The biggest part of the #Geekcation strategy?  By far, unlocking as many Foursquare badges as humanly possible.  I was pretty proud of having unlocked seven, but I left with the feeling that I could have done more.

This brings me to an idea for all of you CVBs reading this.  Have you considered doing a visitors guide with itineraries totally based on unlocking Foursquare badges?  It could  include how to simply unlock single badges such as the Karaoke badge to how to maximize your time to unlock the most badges possible in one day.  With the colorfulness and downright adorableness of the badges, this has the possibility to be an extremely good looking visitors guide in the hands of the right graphic artist.  This would also screams a need for an in real life event, although I am still juggling around how that might go.  It has to be fair to those of us that already have many of these badges.

I know many of you are trying to get Foursquare to do badges for you and I also know many of you probably do not have the budget for such an undertaking.  This could be your alternative and a rather cheap alternative.  In addition, it could teach you a lot about your city.  Can you tell me off the top of your head where three photo booths are in your area?  Well, after my little experiment, I can tell you where three are in Chicago.  In fact, I feel like I can tell you a lot about Chicago that I would not have known otherwise after #Geekcation.  I experienced more about that city than I have any other and I most definitely have Foursquare to thank for that.

It goes without saying that this would be part of an overall Foursquare plan that should include a CVB leaving tips at all of their member locations, checking in only when it is an interesting check in (i.e. a big event) and educating all of your members about the benefits of using Foursquare.

So has anyone done a Foursquare badge visitors guide?  Is there anyone out there working on one?

Off to Chicago…

May 14, 2010

By the time you read this, I might already be dead.  Okay, maybe not dead, but I will certainly be on my way to an adventure.  But I have to take you back before I can tell you about it.

Last August, I got a DM on Twitter from a work colleague saying that she was sending someone my way that was interested in a Twitter chat I was doing for work.  I exchanged some DMs with this person that recognized my obvious genius and then we ended up on the phone.  After a conversation that was basically about how awesome I was, I figured I never would talk to this person ever again.

And then there was that evening…  That evening when I watched an out of control discussion happening on Twitter.  I will not reveal details (mostly because I can’t remember them), but I found my people.  Soon after, I became initiated into the cult…  A cult that I frankly never want to leave.  We have leaned on each other through work projects and personal issues.  We have cheered each other on and talked each other off the ledge.  Okay, so we’ve egged each on when we’ve had some insane ideas too.  That’s what friends are for.

Our proudest achievement has been our little project called #tourismchat, but I’m not going to talk about that here.  If you want to learn more about that, Sarah Page wrote a wonderful post on #tourismchat that will answer most of your questions.  Needless to say, we have had a lot of fun, but have gotten a lot done too.

This trip got planned so that we could come together as a group and um, have fun.  Yeah, that’s what we’ll call what the plans were.  Family and work obligations unfortunately got in the way and it has now turned into me randomly driving to Chicago to spend a weekend with someone I have never met in real life.  Yes, that’s why I said I may be dead already, but even though we have not met in real life, I know I’m driving to meet my newly discovered sister.

@WhosYourAnnie, I can’t wait to finally meet you in real life!  Who could have guessed those random DMs and phone call last August would spark such awesomeness?  @pagetx, @mobethann and @oregonkat, we are so beyond sad you can’t join us.  Another #Geekcation that includes the whole cult cannot come fast enough for me!  So when is that going to be again?

Using a Character to Sell Your Destination

May 13, 2010

Last Friday, something awesome happened.  Ferris Bueller took his day off using Twitter and foursquare.  It spoke to my generation and we got a little giddy.  I was at an event, but I immediately became glued to my phone as I watched for all of my favorite lines and where he was going to show up next.  I wasn’t alone.  After I tweeted what was going on, others retweeted and tuned in as well.  It was glorious, as we all became gushing school girls because we were friends with Ferris on foursquare.

Less than a week later, the stunt left me thinking of how it could have been better.  What if Chicago’s CVB had gotten involved?  Yes, it would have then been a marketing ploy, but I think I still would have tuned in.  And then, the person behind the account could have had the ability to actually visit the places he was checking into.  It would have highlighted their foursquare badges beautifully, and I would have been even more anxious to earn them.

For those of you CVBers out there, have you considered connecting with your local “characters” and giving them a voice in social media?  I can honestly say I was more glued to Ferris’s tweeting than any account I have seen in a long time.  Imagine if he had left tips at these locations he was checking into on foursquare.  I am not ashamed to say that when I go to Chicago tomorrow, I would be far more likely to do something if Ferris had left a tip to do it.

I would love to hear about accounts that are already doing this or if you have any ideas of characters you would like to see get a voice on Twitter.

Unplug Your Twitter & Let It Run Free!

May 12, 2010

There is someone going around telling people to plug their Twitter account into their Facebook account to save time.  If I find out who this person is, I plan on hitting them.  Yes, hit and it will be hard.

Here’s why this is the lamest time saving solution of all:

  1. It generates a link that ties the Twitter post to the Facebook post, so when someone goes to find out more information about the event you are talking about, they are directed to, not the event page, but the Facebook post.  In other words, you are making consumers click twice.  This is especially annoying for comsumers that check their Twitter on their mobile phone.
  2. Most people that do this do not check their mention feed.  In other words, you are not seeing when people try to engage you in conversation over the event or when they are asking for a tip about your location.  You are missing out on BIG time opportunities to engage your followers and make them lifelong consumers.
  3. You are most likely not actively trying to engage your consumers and are only engaging in push marketing.  And by actively trying to engage, I mean doing Twitter searches for when your business is mentioned on Twitter and talking to those tweeps that are talking about you.  You are missing out on opportunities to correct misinformation, bad experiences or to direct them to where their questions can get answered.  Once again, missing out on making lifelong consumers.

If you are really concerned about time limitations, I have a solution for you.  Schedule your tweets ahead of time.  There are many solutions out there that will do this for you and you will be able to do it when you have those free minutes.  What is even better is that this will then provide you the ability to have a Twitter strategy that is planned ahead rather than flying by the seat of your pants.

After your tweets are scheduled, you can then concentrate your social media time on checking your mentions, your Twitter searches and engaging people.  This last part is where you win at social media.  So who is going to unplug their Twitter account first?