GMG Tech Talk- Last Night’s Social Media Presentation At The Cape Ann

Henry Allen has taken the space that used to house The Blackburn Tavern and turned it into a cultural activity center in which he has so much stuff going on it would make your head spin.  Henry’s deal is a whole ‘nother post- or ten posts.

Anyway in his space the Gloucester Destination Marketing organization led by Linn Parisi invited Art Haven director and good egg Dawn Gadow and I to come and give a presentation on Social media for tourism related business.

There was a good amount of people that showed up of all levels of sophistication as far as the web goes and how to use it but most of the folks that attended would probably admit that they are in the dark about how to use such things as twitter and Facebook to promote their business or organization.  After all that was why most showed up.

The key observation from the meeting to me was that the biggest obstacle for people getting started is some type of fear that they are going to somehow screw up and it is somehow too complicated.

Now I don’t know that I’m any kind of “Guru” on this stuff as Linn tabbed me in the promotional material but if anyone considers me somewhat competent at blogging or tweeting they should know that I only started three years ago.  Granted I am intensely committed to GMG and learning the ways to make it better and push the boundaries further but I didn’t know about any of this stuff three years ago.

You want to know how I got started?  I didn’t take a class or go to college in it.  I’m a dumb ass lobster dealer for Christ’s sake.  I just signed up for a free blog account on WordPress and filled in the blanks where they asked questions like username and password.  If there was something I got stuck on I didn’t call a help desk, I clicked on the support button that allows you to type in a question or keyword and they give you the answers.  Trial and error and tweaking and reading feedback and looking at statistics to see what worked and what didn’t.  It didn’t cost a dime initially.

So I started out the presentation talking about Trip Advisor and a story about how when we went to St Lucia we used Trip Advisor to determine what activities we were going to do on our vacation.  The number one thing listed in the area of St Lucia where we were staying was this Segway tour.  The Segway tour was lots of fun and at the end of it the tour guides reminded us a couple times very subtly that if we enjoyed ourselves to please leave a good review on Trip Advisor.  It was brilliant.  It cost the tour operators nothing, and it boosted their tour to the number one spot on an international widely used travel site-Trip Advisor.  You can’t pay for that type of positive exposure in the tourism industry.

The point was that all kinds of people are using social media to get their message out there and if you aren’t then your competition has a huge leg up on you.

I spoke about twitter but really Facebook is the monster right now.  It is taking over the way people communicate world wide.  The numbers are astounding.  Ideally if you own a business, you have a Facebook page where you upload photos or post specials or interesting stories about what is going on in your industry.  Then you link your Facebook page to your twitter account so every time you post to Facebook, the title and link back to your Facebook page gets listed on your twitter timeline.  Also when you post you should include keywords or hashtags so that search engines will pick up those areas of interest and like minded people or potential customers can find your information.

You don’t want to be perceived as spammy and just continually beat people over the head with products you are trying to sell.  Being somewhat funny helps and when you create a Facebook update or Tweet, try to think of the end user and make it worth their while to read what you are writing.  People love visuals.  Pictures can be taken with any new smartphone and uploaded directly to twitter or Facebook in mere seconds.

Here are examples I would use in each industry off the top of my head

Whale Watch-

every day the naturalist or captain takes a 20 second to 2 minute clip of whales breaching and uploads it to Facebook.  Your customers, people that love whales would have a reason to come back to your page every single day.  you will be present in their consciousness and when they are sitting around with their thumbs up their ass trying to figure out what to do in August because they’ve already been to the beach 30 times it might just click with them, hey, lets go on a whale watch.  I saw this cool video and every single day you get to see these real like monsters of the ocean just yards away from you.  Boom!  Sales!

Video gets uploaded to Facebook and linked to twitter account

Restaurants-

Daily specials, pictures of any new dishes and new seasonal menus posted to to Facebook with a direct automatic link to Twitter. See The Farm Bar and Grille, or Minglewood Tavern for very successful Social media campaigns.  The farm Bar and Grille has over 2200 Facebook followers.  That means every day when they talk about 35 cent wing night on Thursdays every one of those 2200 followers gets reminded.  Not to mention their twitter followers.  Now even if they only converted 10% of those people into customers isn’t that an incredible bang???

Deep Sea Fishing-

Every Trip a mate or Captain takes a photo of the largest fish caught that day with the person that caught it holding it up and post it to their Facebook page.  Believe me when I tell you that everyone loves to see their picture taken with a huge fish.  You hand a sheet of paper to each passenger as they leave the ship with your Facebook page web address and tell them to look for pictures from that day.  I am fucking telling you, you will have an incredible amount of people checking out your page from the customers and family members that they want to brag to all their friends about the huge fish they caught and forward the pictures to them.  Link the Facebook page to the twitter account for automatic updating.  If any unusual fish are caught highlight those.  If you have some regular funny customers do little video clips with them that are like testimonials as to what keeps bringing them back to your deep sea fishing operation.  also fishing reports as to what kinds of fish is being caught.

Artisans-

Any new works, several updates as to the work in various stages of completion.  Any art shows that the artist will be showing at or local events.  Links to twitter account automatically.

It was great to get to talk to these folks. I hope we made an impact as if you’ve been reading these pages you know I’m committed to getting people involved in promoting all the cool stuff going on in our city.  I told these fine folks that once they get themselves set up with accounts that I would highlight them here on these pages as an incentive to get off their ass and make that first step. So expect to see more promoting of local twitteratti soon.

You gotta start somewhere.  Take the leap into the Cape Ann Social media pond, the water’s just fine.

I know most people don’t give a crap about yarn but please listen to Robert talk about his success at local yarn shop Coveted Yarn which has a global reach and how social media has helped him gain instant sales for no money at all-

Please watch the video and if nothing else from the five minute mark when he talks about how big Facebook is for his business and how it has led to his recent expansion.

5 comments

  • You are spot on and I am of the opinion any business should give social media a try. The days of I don’t do that and I don’t understand are over. Would you think a barber shop could use Social Media? If you have a funny barber that puts after classic quotes – why not post to facebook? I think one thing businesses forget is the value of loyalty programs. I was in Florida and would do a business case on a casual restuarant called Duffy’s. Place is packed day and night. They have a loyalty card that is top notch offering deals/free lunches based on how much you spend. I think it is better in the long run for a small business than a quick groupon.

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  • You are so right and your examples of how business should do it are spot on. Now I can see Fred’s Deep Sea Fishing trying a Facebook page and tweeting for a few months and think they are wasting their time. No feedback, like talking into your hat. But everyone starts that way. You have to get the words out there. Get the video of the caught fish and the story how much fun it was to catch it. You might go a year and get only three visits. But google will visit and then google will rank your video higher as you post more. Pretty soon a google of Gloucester deep sea fishing brings up your video.

    Google ranks history and longevity very high. I have a website that has had the same name and address since 1995. That helps. By getting your blog, your videos, all those links to your Facebook page about catching the big one listed today in 2011 will page huge dividends. Maybe not today but years from now.

    There are 30 places to get breakfast in Gloucester. None have a Facebook Page. None of their customers care. But don’t you think a few new customers would not be turned away? First one on Facebook with a loyalty secret word announced on the page to get free hash every day wins those new customers. The loser is the 20th or 30th facebook page about Gloucester Linguica specials. Got to do it now, and as Joey says, lose the fear of doing it wrong or looking foolish. Joey has certainly lost that! ;-)

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  • I started on Facebook after someone set up a free account for me and then went off to college. A customer came in and said she thought maybe I had gone out of business because my Facebook page had not been updated. I learned it through trial and error just like Joey. As for looking foolish, I do it well. People understand mistakes and errors, we all make them. If your intent is good and pure you will win people over even if your computer skills are minimal.

    As of right now there are 2360 people following what we do on Facebook and more again who follow us on Twitter which we have linked to our Facebook. I can generate cash flow in a matter of 10-15 minutes through my website in conjunction with Facebook. Think about how liberating that is as a small business owner. We are growing, and we have a following that would not be possible without our use of social networking. The business is there you just have to go get it.

    Want proof? We just had a yarn crawl (think pub crawl but for yarnaholics) here last weekend. We had a little raffle and we had people from 20 states (based off area codes) come through here. That is the power of social networking and anyone can do it.

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  • Excellent summation, Joey. Even I understood it all- well, almost all…. !

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  • I attended that meeting and was glad I did – I now have a twitter account – even before my adult kids!!! I felt so smart when I told them. Now my daughters new business (Wingear Chic) and I are linked on twitter and FB. Thanks for the recap Joey, I needed that. There were a few details I needed explained. Now on to the next step ……

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