Whether it was meeting new people, taking in great presentations, quaffing margaritas, or winning the Social Media Smackdown (what? Parachuting armadillos is a GREAT idea!), members of our Vancouver, Detroit and Sydney offices were out in full force for the 2012 Social Media Tourism Symposium.
Hosted by Think! and held November 7-9 in El Paso, Texas, SoMeT was created to provide an opportunity for DMOs, CVBs, hotels and attractions to get together to swap ideas and tips on how to leverage social media within the tourism industry.
At SoMeT, content and community is key. In keeping with our belief in listening to – and sparking the excitement of – passionate communities, the conference location is determined via online voting and engagement campaigns; speakers pitch a topic that is then voted on by the community; and attendees past and future all have a say in how the conference unfolds. This is what makes SoMeT special. And our symposiasts agree:
With 27 of the top tourism/digital marketing experts in North America and Europe on the speakers’ roster this year, you couldn’t move for good content and advice. The themes that emerged included empowering advocates/ambassadors, curating content from new channels, being mobile, putting social at the core of business, and being interesting. Here are just a few of the takeaways that resonated with us:
- “If you don’t have interestingness in campaigns, you might as well give up on it…you can try to outspend but that’s a futile attempt. Give away your brand, let people remix your assets. People love their city, love to talk about it and compare and contrast, so give them the assets and let their voice be louder than yours. Your job is in amplifying their stories.” – Dave Olson, Hootsuite
- “Stop promoting and posting crap.” – Theresa Overby, Miles Media
- Get on G+. “I promise you, we’re not letting it go anywhere. It’s only going to become a bigger deal.” – John Thornton, Google
- Think about Mobile Behaviour before Mobile Technology – think about where [people] are, what it’s like to be in their shoes, and don’t go do what you read about in Mashable or Techcrunch. Everyone’s audience will be different, and you have to be able to nail what will work for your audience before you can think about the technology.” – Tim Hayden, Edelman Digital
- “If you want to find your most dedicated and devoted fans – share passionate stories. A campaign lasts a short time, but a movement lasts longer. People are the platforms not the tools – give people a platform and it gives them superpowers.” – Amanda Hite, Talent Revolution Inc
- Want to run an ambassador program? “Keep it small; be picky; do your research into the amabassadors. Let them go behind the scenes; let them do the talking; communicate with them….and never directly tell ambassadors what to say. If they’re true ambassadors, they’ll figure it out.” – Ryan Goff, MGH Inc
- “In order to be really, really effective, we need to go beyond having a social strategy. We need to understand what the impact is on the organization as a whole. What kind of skills do we need? How do we organize ourselves? What would you do if you could start again and compete with your own organization? Would you do everything the same? Would you produce the same collateral? Would you still have the same people with the same skillsets or would you do it differently?” – our own William Bakker, Think!
- “We need to change OUR organization. We need more people with the right skills, we have to train our people who are more used to traditional marketing, and we need to find more bloggers and key influencers…we’re going to keep working and learn from the things we could have done better. We need to work better.” – Thomas Vanderplaetse, Tourism Flanders
So – where to start? Why not share your favourite SoMeT12 moment here, or join us next year at SoMeT13? After all, there there will be not one, but TWO Social Media Tourism Symposiums in 2013.
SoMeT hits the road and makes its debut in Australia on July 17 and 18, while the North America SoMeT runs November 6-8. See you there!