excellent daily online news service TravelMole has announced its 2011 Web Awards. The list of winners is well worth having a look at, for best-practice examples, inspiration and ideas.
Take John Heald – winner of the TravelMole Travel Blog Award. John (pictured) is Cruise Director onboard a Carnival ship: he writes a daily blogpost, runs a Facebook page, and makes/stars in very short (30 second) videos. He’s a big guy with an even bigger personality; he’s funny, if sometimes a bit near the knuckle. Not to everyone’s taste, but then neither are cruises. He’s open and direct, he talks frankly about problems and asks readers to help find solutions, he knows his market … and the comments show he’s got it about right.
It’s made me think about how a lot of destination marketers struggle to find the time – not to mention the bottomless pit of content – for “social”. Social media may seem “low cost” – but we all know that it devours the hours.
John’s blog shows how effective social can be if you leave it in the hands of a member of staff with great people skills. When you think about it, he should know his market: he’s talking to them, face to face, day in day out, and he obviously thrives on it. Plus his job gives him loads of fresh, colourful content.
So my question to marketers is: who in your organisation or destination is your equivalent of John Heald? Customer-facing people who love their jobs and thrive on interaction: people such as seafront officers, countryside rangers, receptionists, curators, guides, TIC staff, box office assistants, the events team etc …?
Can you give them the tools to use social media as part of their role? And – importantly – can you keep the corporate guidelines light enough and loose enough to let their personalities shine through?