Social-media-for-public-relations1Social media… the marketing world never paid attention to it in the late 90s when GeoCities and SixDegrees were starting. We didn’t engage with MySpace in the early 2000s. But then Facebook happened. It hit 200 million users. Then 400 million. (Now 900 million.) YouTube became the second largest search engine. Twitter reports 1 billion tweets. Okay, you’ve got marketer’s attention!

Conferences began offering breakout sessions on social media. Then keynote speakers. Now full conferences. (How Dave Serino’s SoMeT didn’t make the list I’ll never know.) Books, consultants, reporting standards, even its own awards.

Marketing departments and DMOs are hiring New Media Managers. We’re cutting out print ’cause we can post and tweet for free. Some are doing it well, some are, well, doing it. While I don’t profess to have the silver bullet to conquering social media, might I suggest Five Things You Should Be Doing on Social Media… But Aren’t:

1. Using LinkedIn… while LinkedIn’s 225 million users pales in comparison to Facebook’s 900 million, LinkedIn is still nothing to push aside. Most conference sessions tend to discuss Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for attracting the leisure visitor but LinkedIn can be valuable at attracting conferences and meetings. I have more than 850 LinkedIn connections compared to nearly 500 Facebook “friends”. Professionals on LinkedIn tend to connect quicker than those on Facebook so you’re able to grow your network quicker.

How do you use it? Post. Your office probably has a company LinkedIn page but do you ever post? If a DMO, post new features or the TripAdvisor rankings of your convention center or a new hotel. Sales person has a new certification? An attractions’ new exhibits. (Off site functions remember?)

Engage… comment on posts so meeting planners keep seeing Joe Gesortenflort, VisitAnywhereville. Join groups and again, comment on posts. When you finally call that meeting professional, they’ll be familiar having seen your name numerous times.

If you have significant news, personal message your connections. We’re focusing on Facebook and not using LinkedIn. Try it.

2. Monitoring… what are meeting planners and visitors saying about your destination? Here’s an idea – create a dummy account on Facebook. Like the association pages. Then monitor the dialogue. “Oh crap! We’re going back to Anywhereville!? The 2010 conference sucked!” Engage your PR department and manage a poor perception. See what the meeting planners are posting about working with caterers, convention centers, or, gasp – your staff! Social media allows us the opportunity to hear the chatter!

3. Prospecting… Just went on Twitter. Typed in “Oklahoma Conference” and before the song on the radio ended, I identified 15 conferences that someone could target. “Association”, “Convention”, “Summit”, “Conclave”, prospect other states business… search LinkedIn too.

4. Engaging… Social media is not a ‘to-do’ each day. “Posted on Facebook. Next task.” Never to look at Facebook again until the next day when you post again. (Or worse, you use Hootsuite and schedule all of your posts for the week and never look at Facebook.) If your posts are truly engaging, people are commenting and asking questions. They’re posting on your wall and sending personal messages. All which needs to be responded to in a timely manner.

5. Monitoring (2)… especially on weekends. An office posted about a parade one Saturday morning. A prospective attendee inquired about the time. The account wasn’t being monitored and thus, wasn’t seen until Monday morning.

In an experiment, I picked on the Des Moines and Wisconsin Dells CVBs and the Wisconsin state tourism office this July while on vacation. While driving through Des Moines my tweet inquired about lunch options. Albeit it was a short time frame, but I didn’t get a response until after lunch (and we had found some awesome BBQ.) I tweeted over and over about the water slides, cheese and week in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Dells CVB and state tourism office only responded once. “Looks like you had a good week.” No alternative suggestions, no engagement, no customer service.

Social media isn’t easy. But it isn’t overbearing either. These are but five things you should be doing on social media but aren’t. Is there a sixth or seventh? What successes are you having? Comment below and let me know.

Thanks for reading!