You might look at this image and feel completely overwhelmed at the idea of social media and how you’re going to implement it for your business. Don’t be! Social media can appear overwhelming, but there are easy ways to break into it without breaking the bank. To be honest, this image only shows a tiny sliver of the social media networks online today, but it gives you a good idea of how important social media is now and will be in the very near future. Don’t be intimidated by thinking you need to be involved everywhere right away, know that you can slowly build your social media presence, one network at a time.
One of the best things about social media networks, especially in this slowing economy, is that the vast majority of social networks are free or offer at least some of their services for free. That being said, don’t be lulled into the false assumption that creating a good social media presence will be easy. It CAN be easy, but you have to devote some time to it.
Hopefully, you’ve created a Flickr account (if you haven’t, head over to Flickr.com, create an account, upload some photos and join the Visit Indiana Photo Group). If you haven’t and you want some more information about Flickr, check out this post (a Flickr primer), this post (getting the most out of Flickr) and this one (about launching into social media) from the Tourism Tech Corner. Flickr is a great place for any DMO to begin their Social Media Footprint (here is a great post from Travel 2.0 that explains how to protect your social media footprint). Create a page, post some photos and spread the word.
The best way to get your foot in the social media door is to see what others have done. Please take a look at what we’ve done on some of the following social networks:
- Flickr: Visit Indiana Photostream, Visit Indiana Group
- Twitter: Visit Indiana Tweets
- Facebook: Visit Indiana Group, Visit Indiana Fan Page
- YouTube: Visit Indiana Videos
- FriendFeed: Visit Indiana Office Stream
- Blogs: Indiana Insider Blog, Indiana Media Insider Blog, Tourism Tech Corner Blog
Even if you’re not quite ready to jump head-first into social media, it’s a good idea to go ahead and create accounts at these sites and some others. The last thing you want is someone who is not associated with your DMO to create an account and create an online presence in your name. If you create your accounts but aren’t ready to start creating content, go ahead and set your profile status to invisible or private. No one will be able to see your accounts until you set them live again, but at least you won’t have a blank page sitting out there and no one else will be able to create that account in your name.
Over the next several months, I’ll be creating posts that will give you a primer on each of the social media sites mentioned above and any others that I come across. The best thing for you to do now is get in there and start experiencing these networks. Create a personal account, play around and have some fun. Get a feel for what these sites are and what they can do, then create an account for your business.
I’ve got one more suggestion for a social network that you, personally should join. It’s called SmallerIndiana and it’s an Indiana-based social network. Created as a place for Indiana’s best and brightest to collaborate, SmallerIndiana has members from throughout the state in countless industries. It’s a great place to become involved. With helpful members, most questions you ask will be answered quickly. So, join SmallerIndiana (and the Visit Indiana group) today! And if you’re interested, there are many active discussions in the SmallerIndiana Forums.
As always, I’d love to see your comments and thoughts about social media. Any benefits you’ve seen, any challenges or fears. Also, please feel free to send me a note or say hi on any of the social networks we’re involved with above.