For Travel Destinations: Working Well with Bloggers

I am producing a social media marketing campaign for the island of Lānaʻi, here in Hawaii. It is a rather unique concept, a “New Media Artist-in-Residence” Program. I will write about the specifics in a separate blog post, though I did start noodling on this idea back in 2008. Today I want to share with you some tips I have put together for the destination partners, which apply to any type of social marketing with bloggers.

Program Overview
The LVB has invited seven well regarded new media “bloggers” to visit as New Media Artists-in-Residence. Each will be accompanied by a companion to assist in developing stories and making media (writing blog posts, updating social networks, and taking pictures and videos). Their visits will span five months, generating an ongoing conversation online amongst each other (with hundreds of links) about the island of Lanai.

Working with New Media
These folks tend to be much less formal and far more interactive with the destination partners than is typical for traditional media reps or writers. They want to engage with you and other local people. They want behind-the-scenes experiences. They are looking for stories to tell and interesting people and places that can truly convey the essence of a place.

Keep in mind, a New Media Artist’s loyalty is to their readers, the people they inform and inspire, while sharing their authentic experiences. The more you engage with them, the more likely they will mention you. And the more likely others will learn about you and want to know more. If you want to make any special offers available, the new media team will be able to help you get the word out at no extra charge. They love having exclusives and scoops for their readers!

It’s All About the Conversation
Online social conversations cover a wide territory – from short greetings and reference links on Twitter to long form blog entries with lots of photos, links, and nuanced story telling. The conversation will be taking place in many locations or what we call, on several different platforms. Each artist has a destination blog where s/he will be writing their in-depth pieces about the trip. Light, chatty, link-sharing takes place on Twitter and Facebook. Photos are shared on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr, where they can be seen by thousands of others. Videos are hosted on their blogs as well as on YouTube for extra wide distribution.

Remember, on the social web, everyone’s invited! That includes you too.

Here’s how you can interact with New Media Artists, aka Travel Bloggers:
* Introduce yourself on Twitter and their blogs; interact with questions and suggestions for their visit. Introduce them to others in the community. Point them to your website or Facebook page. Share a picture of your business location or activity. Tell them about you so they can share that with thousands of others.
* Post welcome messages to each artist on Twitter and Facebook the day of their arrival.
* Take a photos and/or videos with them and your staff while on property and post to Twitter, Flickr, and/or email to the blogger to post it for you.
* Follow the artists on Twitter and read their blog before, during, and after their visit. Leave comments!
* Mention them on your Facebook page (and include a link to them – any of their links will do) if you have a FB page.
* Follow (and use!) the tag we have in place to keep track of the conversation and all of the content being created: #VisitLanai. This is a short cut on Twitter to see what is happening right now amongst all of the team members too. Save the search as a bookmark so you can check in easily and often.
* Even if you are not on Twitter or Facebook, you can still follow the conversation in a web browser. See the links below and save them as bookmarks!
* You can take pictures with your phone and email them to the bloggers to get them posted.
* You can send an email message to your customer email list telling them to follow your hashtag to meet real people who are visiting here.
* You can leave comments on the bloggers’ web site.
* You can do something memorable that they will cherish and want to write about!

VisitLanai Web Resources
Search the tag on Twitter
The temporary blog for the LVB
The Twitter account for the LVB