Visit these 7 Steps to CVB Social Media Success

shutterstock_92569492Welcome CVBers. This blog has been crafted specifically for you as a guide to successful social media campaigns that engage current and potential visitors in your city. The goal is to create a living, breathing presence on social media that will entice visitors to follow what you’re up to and share their experiences.

Social media is everywhere your visitors might be. It allows communication and conversation surrounding a wide variety of topics accessible almost anywhere. Simply owning accounts is no longer enough. The way you engage and utilize social media tools are the keys to its success – or failure.

Now, how do you make magic happen: Read on.

Step One: Define your goals

Convention and Visitors Bureaus are the gateway to the community. Whether visiting family, in town for a conference or event, or a townie looking for the what’s happening; you are the connection to the action and the first point of contact. That being said, how do you become the coveted resource on social media and what do you want to accomplish? First, your goals on social media should align with those of your organization as a whole. There’s no rulebook, just a different medium to inform the masses. A few potential goals could be:

• Increase website traffic
• Increase Facebook page likes by x%
• Increase SMERF visitor interaction on social media
• Fuel local economy through social media conversion
• Become the go-to source of information for the community
• Generate online presence using hashtags developed for city
• Generate online presence using hashtags developed for specific events

Whether success translates to likes, engagement, or retweets, knowing why you’re on social media, outside of promoting your products and services, is the first step to building a successful online presence.

Step Two: Discover your voice

As simple as it sounds, determining what voice used to craft messages on social media can make a big impact.

While the specifics of the audience may differ from campaign to campaign, having a consistent voice that represents your community will enable your audience to connect, follow and engage in the conversation.

Some basics to keep in mind:
• Use active voice – get visitors into the action
• Be mindful of tense – what’s coming up, a recap of what’s already happened
• Speak on behalf of the city – “we” welcome you, not “I” welcome you
• Watch punctuation – Characters are a precious commodity on social media. i.e – Try to limit exclamation points to a minimum!!!!!!

Maintaining a dependable voice and image will make you a trustworthy brand. Keep it consistent.

Step Three: Find where your people are – be there.

Who are you talking to, where? Like before, specifics can vary from campaign to campaign, but – similar to voice – knowing whom your messages are meant for can significantly change the messaging and where you reach them. Based on whom you’re talking to, it’s important to find out what channels they are on.

The visitor cruising your Instagram for the hottest restaurant with the juiciest burger and the twitter-man following hashtags to stay up-to-date on the conference he’s attending are on those channels with different goals. They’re scanning the pages because the platforms each of them are on have consistently offered answers the answers they’re searching for.

Let’s dive into the numbers: Where is your audience? According to PewResearch, adults online are using the following channels:

• 71% Facebook
• 23% Twitter
• 26% Instagram
• 28% Pinterest
• 28% LinkedIn

The best way to find out where your people are is to join the conversation. Search existing hashtags, ask questions and know what channels are generally used for what type of information.

For example, take a cup of coffee. The cup of jo looks a little different depending what channel you’re on. Check it out:

Facebook: I like coffee.
Twitter: I am drinking #coffee.
Instagram: Here’s an artsy photo of my coffee.
Pinterest: Here’s a collection of recipes and pictures of coffee.
LinkedIn: I am good at drinking coffee.

A great perk of the social media world is the ability to link accounts, so you do not have to post each platform individually, which will allow you to reach more channels in less time. However, keeping in mind that the messages visitors are looking for may differ, so proceed with caution and make sure you’re posting strategically.

A few social media management sites to check out to keep track of and link accounts are Hootsuite, Nimble, SproutSocial, Wildfire, Spredfast and Buffer.

Step Four: Content is king

What makes reading what you’re saying worthwhile? Again, social media is everywhere your visitors might be. That means they’re getting messages from everywhere else. Bringing your city to life in 140 characters on Twitter or through candid shots of a sidewalk café downtown on Instagram can only be as powerful as you make them.

Think of ways that connect with your community. Create emotions, entertain, involve them and give them a reason to like your page and share your content. Give them something to look forward to or to remember.

Content calendars are a great way to plan ahead. What’s coming down the pipeline, and when do you have an opportunity to create new content to promote your city? A significant amount of the interaction you’ll see will be from first time visitors. No information is bad information. A few ideas for fresh content topics include:

• Dining
• City Information/Discounts
• Things to do/Entertainment
• Transportation/Getting Around

Don’t forget: Social media is a 24/7, 365 gig. It is critical that you’re sharing timely and relevant information with your audience. Share what your community is up to right now! From live tweeting events or promoting something coming up, keeping your audience in the loop will help you become their go-to source.

According to a CVB representative in Indiana, the trick is to keep information relevant and interesting, and to make sure you stay responsive. It can become a full time job just creating posts, let alone responding.

Step Five: Teamwork is the dream work.

Your community has a lot going on. The venues, events and local businesses you are teaming up with are an integral part of your success. Working together to promote your city through social media can boost return.

No need to reinvent the wheel with social media. Building partnerships with community organizations can allow for sharing and seamless content development. Sharing something a partner organization has done in your community is a great way to tap into what they’re up to, the audience and the behind-the-scenes conversations of what’s working for them.

Social is also a great way to get locals involved. They can share their ideas, and their pride in their community, through the CVB pages.

Creating a toolkit for your partners to use can ensure the voice and messages making it to your audience flow. See bottom of post

Step Six: Track it

Having set a goal for what success looks like for the CVB on social media, tracking that success will enable you to take things to the next level. One important factor to consider when tracking your presence on social media is time. Time of day, day of week and the amount of return on investment of time are crucial in whether social media is working for you.

If your social media guru is spending hours researching, taking photos and constructing a post to go live early on a Monday morning, the likelihood of its success is pretty low. Make sure to know find out what your audience is up to. When are they checking their Facebook or what day are they most likely to be making weekend plans?

While the success of a CVB can be hard to track due to the number of external factors, tracking information based on the goals you’d initially set can give a glimpse of what is and what is not working.

Step Seven: Remember and Repeat

Once you’ve gotten in the groove of planning, posting and sharing on social media you’ll notice conversations flowing and visits to your page on the rise. You will have become the go-to for information for visitors and locals alike.

1. Define your goals
2. Discover your voice
3. Find where your people are – be there
4. Content is King
5. Teamwork is the dream work
6. Track it
7. Repeat

toolkit download button

Be creative and find ways to interact with everyone involved and create a community you can reach out to over and over again.