In this day and age, it is likely that the vast majority of business owners understand the importance of having a presence on social media to connect with current and potential customers.
Through our efforts at the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Center, I witness first-hand the power of social media, having seen it contribute to increased recognition, traffic to our website and ultimately visitation.
However, I also continue to be surprised by the new, innovative ways these platforms are used to do so.
There are almost 2.5 billion (and rising) social media users, providing businesses with an unprecedented opportunity to connect with fans and also build brand awareness.
In the tourism industry, it is paramount to maintain market share through continued interaction with past visitors – which we can do daily through social media posts and interaction – but just as important to introduce the destination (and its unique personality and offerings) to potential visitors as well.
To do so, the BACVB uses our social pages to share content and specific details of the destination to help personify our brand. Our platforms also provide forums for questions and real-time, personalized responses to individual comments and even concerns.
As such, we use our pages to initiate relationships and build connections, resulting in brand loyalty.
However, our efforts expand beyond the organic reach of our posts and comments to also include paid social media advertising – the most cost-effective digital marketing method that exists. Through boosted ads and posts, we ensure we are targeting the best audience for our brand and doing so at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.
Beyond that, our team works to harness and leverage the power of social media influencers by hosting top bloggers and video bloggers with thousands of followers, and also factors in the social following of traditional media who come to town to cover the destination in print and online travel stories.
We also partner with other like-minded marketers who share in our goals, including the state’s marketing arm, Visit Florida, to promote the destination on its social channels as well to increase reach.
Working with Visit Florida, the BACVB takes part in Twitter chats during which Visit Florida’s more than 166,000 followers can engage in a conversation about the state’s varied offerings.
On the days it participates in a chat, the CVB has seen up to a 486 percent increase in impressions (the number of Twitter streams the tweet is delivered to). And, during each, we share not only important general information, but also work to tag our industry partners, which can also be retweeted or used by the partner to engage with followers taking part.
While Visit Florida chats are limited to its partners in the tourism industry, businesses in all sectors can find ways to partner with other like-minded organizations on similar initiatives.
There is no denying that social media is here to stay and there are virtually no reasons for a business not to incorporate social media into its overall marketing strategy.
For those looking to get started, my team would advise you to familiarize yourself with the demographics and best practices of all options (from Facebook to LinkedIn, Twitter to Snapchat, Instagram to Pinterest, there are many avenues to explore) and invest in the correct platforms for your business with which you are more likely to reach and engage with your audience.
For readers in the tourism industry or others interested in our efforts to drive visitation, I implore you to connect with us on social media, join in on a Visit Florida Twitter chat and talk to our team about other ways you can support and be supported by our destination’s social media efforts.
Elliott Falcione is the executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and can be reached at Elliott.Falcione@BACVB.com or 941-729-9177, ext. 3940.