Spread the Tourism Love: Make it Viral

Posted on March 1, 2010

Tourist Making a Video for Social MediaIn the social media world, the golden ticket comes in the form of the word “viral.”

Yes, there is a reason it sounds like “virus.” It spreads. Contaminates. Goes from one person to the next and stays for a while. It’s the “Charlie Bit Me” video on YouTube and the FarmVille application on Facebook, and it’s every marketers dream to make these lasting impressions on their audience.

But can you make a destination viral? With a well thought-out strategy and a little bit of creativity, the sky is the limit on your destination marketing efforts. To make your travel spot become the next most talked-about place online, don’t just start the conversation, but give people a reason to keep talking. But don’t stop there. Encourage your visitors to create content for you.

The beauty of social media is the ability to create and share content in minutes. This can be in the form of writing blog articles, snapping a few photos or rolling a quick video. Put into perspective, any way someone can share about his or her experience at a certain place can be on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube in a matter of minutes. This can be good feedback or not-so-good reviews.

Some may think that’s terrifying, but it’s actually good news. The idea is to put as much good publicity and buzz about your destination as possible on the Web, so in the off chance that someone didn’t like their stay, or the food was too cold, there are enough people raving about great service, good times and lasting memories that they will actually vouch for your destination’s appeal.

You may choose your level of involvement in aiding your tourists promote your destination, from telling them to become a fan on Facebook to literally handing out video cameras and asking them to shoot 20 second videos for you to upload to your YouTube channel. Replace the guestbook with a computer and a WordPress blog to tell users to go online and post their reviews and upload a quick picture before leaving. Invite your foodie tourists to write guest blog posts about your cuisine, and give your tourists login information to your Flickr account.

Social media empowers most people (creative to non-creative) to express themselves through many forms of media. Embrace it! And empower your tourists to do so! You’ll never know the far-reaching implications of this inexpensive, yet effective, form of marketing.

Jessica Swink is a freelance writer specializing in articles about social media for travel Web sites and European hotel booking services.

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