Facebook Interest Lists are going away

Screenshot of a Facebook Interests List we set up for some Tourism Currents clients. Very handy for tracking what folks were talking about on their Pages.
Screenshot of a Facebook Interest List that we set up for some Tourism Currents clients. Very handy for tracking, in one place, what folks were talking about on their Pages, rather than manually going from Page to Page to see their latest posts.

 

Boy, I hate just stumbling without warning on the demise of a favorite feature….

I was a big fan of setting up Facebook Interest Lists of the Pages run by Tourism Currents clients and prospective clients. Such lists meant that I could click one link on my News Feed left sidebar, see all the latest posts from a certain group, and Like/Share/Comment on each one as appropriate.

It was an easy way to keep in touch with folks, stay visible to them, and give their posts a little algorithm help, too. It was smart business. We showed people how to do it all the time in our social media workshops for tourism.

Now, it looks like Facebook is removing the Interest List feature. I discovered this when I went to confirm the list setup process – in case it had changed, as things do – and I couldn’t find the “Add a List” feature on my News Feed left sidebar any more.

It’s also buried in this post about changes to Facebook metrics and reporting:

“Interest Lists – Follower Counts.

Interest lists are a way to organize and view content on Facebook. Given low consumer usage of interest lists, we have decided to retire this feature, [emphasis mine] which will result in a drop in the total number of followers for profiles that created interest lists or were featured in lists. There are two reasons for this: 1) For people that created or were featured in an interest list, profile follower counts include the followers of the interest list; 2) People can follow someone from a profile and through an interest list, which means a profile’s follower number could double count that person. This update does not impact News Feed distribution or Page Insights. The impact to profile follower counts will vary, depending on the number of interest lists the profile created and was featured in. Most profiles will see a drop in followers of less than 5%.”

 

I am NOT happy about this; it was super-handy to be able to show a CVB, DMO, Chamber of Commerce, or Main Street organization how they could see tourism partner Facebook updates all in one place.

This is another reminder that Facebook controls Facebook, not you, so don’t get too fond of any of its features.

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Posted in Facebook, Tourism Currents, Web Communications | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This is how hotels and tourism folks screw up social media

I’m in a big city for a conference.

My original hotel plans for my last night in this city fell through – a local college football game drove up prices in my preferred area to insane levels that I would not pay.

There is another hotel available not too far away. It is reasonably priced. Reviews look pretty good. I book a room there for a Friday night.

I love the hotel. I love the location. The staff is cheery and friendly.

I love my room so much that before unpacking, I set my suitcase aside in the entryway, turn on all the lights for a better presentation, and take photos. Even the Do Not Disturb door hangar gets a photo, because it is unique and funny.

My room’s balcony has a nice view; the next morning at sunrise, I roll out of bed and get out there to take a photo of the tranquil scene.

I paid for the room myself – about US$200 with a AAA rate, one of my standard tips for traveling like a pro. The local tourism board has no idea that I’m in town. This wasn’t a freebie press trip or influencer gig.

I post about the hotel to a couple of different social media channels, simply because the place is awesome and I want people to know about it, and taking care to include photos and tag the hotel so they’ll see my positive mentions of their lovely property.

Nothing.

No response from the hotel’s social media accounts, except for a Like of my photo tweets on Twitter two days later.

No friendly greeting in response like, “Hey, so glad you’re in town and enjoying our hotel; thanks for your business.”

Nothing.

And this happens all the time. This is unfortunately the norm in my travels, not the exception.

So much effort is expended to bring people to town – to get them to book a room and spend money – only to ignore them when they actually visit.

I try to be understanding. I know people are busy, but this lack of attention to basic online communications is pathetic in this day and age.

It happens with hotels. It happens with tourism partner restaurants, attractions, and merchants. It happens with organizations whose entire reason for existence is destination marketing and making visitors feel welcomed.

I don’t want a response because I work in the tourism industry, or because I’m fortunate enough to have a few followers on social media.

I want a response because I am a guest and that is the hotel’s JOB – to be hospitable to guests. They should be especially hospitable to guests who, without any quid pro quo or handouts, are enthusiastically telling friends and family positive things about the property.

Too many otherwise smart people still do not seem to understand that social media is a powerful way to connect and communicate – publicly – with visitors, guests, and customers.

Ignoring social mentions is like turning your back on your front desk, or ignoring your business phone when it is ringing.

The silence is deafening. Your visitors and customers (and their social networks) notice it.

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Posted in Hospitality and Hotels, Tourism Marketing on the Web, Web Communications | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Does B2B marketing on Facebook make any sense?

Add B2B marketing on Facebook to your To Do List (courtesy Geneva Vanderzeil A Pair and a Spare on Flickr CC)
Does an active Facebook Page belong on your To Do List if you’re a B2B business? (photo courtesy Geneva Vanderzeil A Pair and a Spare on Flickr CC)

Is it worth the time and effort for a B2B (business to business) brand, consultant, or staff team to maintain an active Facebook Page, on top of other social media demands?

It might be, if you get a lot of good business from personal referrals and word-of-mouth.

Here is a recent question from a friend and professional colleague …

“I’m considering bringing my business Facebook Page back online. It’s been dark/unused for several years, because I felt like it was a time suck since potential clients aren’t looking for me on Facebook. Over time, I’ve started thinking that while they may not be looking for me, they are on Facebook for their own work, so maybe it makes sense. Doing this [social media] for others is easy. Doing it for myself – not so much.

Two questions: (1) does it make sense? (2) how do I jumpstart and not look lame that it was dark so long?”

My advice back to him:

1)  Yes, it makes sense to have an active brand Facebook Page, because Facebook is where everybody on the planet spends their time right now, including your current, former, and prospective clients.

I think there’s too much focus on B2B vs. B2C business communications – it’s kind of a silly differentiation especially when it comes to social media. Most B2B communications advice seems to consist of, “Stop being so boring! Do stuff like a B2C business would!”

People prefer to work with people they like and trust. An active Facebook Page highlights your business as human, fun, smart, and worth people’s hard-earned money.

2)  Nobody really notices that you’ve been dark, so don’t worry about it. Frankly, because you’ve been dark, no one will notice that you’re posting, at least for awhile, because the Facebook algorithm will ignore you. 🙂

Most people only interact in the News Feed anyway, less so directly on Pages. If they DO go directly to your Page, as long as a few of the most recent posts are not from 2011, they probably won’t scroll back far enough to notice that you “came alive” fairly recently.

3)  To jump-start your Page – make a list of the top 5-7 questions people ask you all the time, or problems/issues you come across all the time in your business. Make a simple editorial calendar addressing each one – on Mondays you’ll share updates about X, on Tuesdays the topic is Y, on Wednesdays it is Z, and so on.

Re-share evergreen blog posts from your archives. It’s OK if they’re a few years old as long as they’re still accurate (check and tweak them first.) You can get more elaborate and organized later with some sort of content marketing editorial calendar that ties in email newsletter, blog posts, tweets, Page updates, etc.

Be prepared to drop a little money on a few Sponsored posts, to get back in front of followers.

Once your Facebook Page is reasonably lively, it will have a lot of “Google juice” authority – like all social profiles do – so it will come up high when people search for your brand name. That’s a nice SEO benefit.

Don’t forget to add a Facebook Page social button to your website, and make sure it’s linked correctly. You can also send a note to your email list that the Page is now active, announce it on other social media, and invite your personal profile Facebook connections to Like the Page, if you think it makes sense for them (don’t blast all of your connections.)

Did I miss anything? Am I way off the mark? Let’s talk down in the comments!

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The 2 things you must do for online marketing

The two things you must do for online marketing
Advice brought to you by the number Two

What if your time for online marketing is incredibly limited, and the boss or powers-that-be simply will not budget for another staff member, or even part-time freelance/contract assistance?

What do you absolutely HAVE to do to avoid being invisible online?

What can you absolutely NOT ignore, or blow off because you’re “too busy?”

Here’s what I’d recommend:

1)  Claim your business profile on Google My Business.

Why  —  This will help your visibility when people search, for example, for “antique shop in XYZ town,” and it also helps to literally put you on the map – Google Maps.

How  —  Fill out your brand profile as completely as possible – including adding photos – and make sure that your name, physical address, and phone number are accurate and consistent across all online profiles. Respond to any reviews, positive or negative.

2)  Have a rocking Facebook Page.

Why  —  You need to be where your customers are online. I can almost guarantee that they are one of the over one billion people on Facebook….so don’t screw it up. Your Facebook Page URL will come up when people search for your business name, too, so it helps your search engine visibility. Even smaller destinations can have great tourism Facebook Pages.

How  —  Fill out your Page information as completely as possible, decide what sort of Facebook posts will support your overall business or organization strategy, and post at LEAST 2-3 times a week. Learn more here about setting up a successful Page. Budget for occasional Sponsored posts (ads) to ensure that you stay in front of your Page followers despite the recent drop in organic reach.

That’s my answer to Tourism Currents social media training clients who say, “What do I really have to do for online marketing?” (and you’d be surprised by how few tourism partners do either, much less both, very well.)

Do you agree with the two things I recommend, or disagree? The comments below are open.

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Posted in Economic Development, Facebook, Tourism Marketing on the Web, Web Communications | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A snapshot of Snapchat for tourism

My Spidey sense tells me that it is time for DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations) to take Snapchat seriously as a way to connect with visitors.

It’s been more than two years since I wrote a post on here titled, Why Snapchat? Because they’ll open it, after attending a tourism summit in Philadelphia and hearing from the Philadelphia Eagles marketing team.

Then, about a year ago, I wrote about finding travel stories on Snapchat when I realized that I was checking it almost every day for the latest Story snaps from places and events around the world.

Team Sri Dasmesh Pipe Band at Bagpipe World Championships Glasgow on Snapchat
Team Sri Dasmesh Pipe Band at the Bagpipe World Championships Glasgow on Snapchat

Since then, I’ve played around on a personal Snapchat account and watched tourism pros figuring out how to use it to connect with people, especially if their marketing goals include connecting with a young audience.

If your market is not there or you don’t have the resources to take on another social channel, THAT IS OK. Lurking and learning is fine.

Claim your Snapchat brand name so someone else doesn’t get it, set up a personal account to experiment with when you have time, and don’t stress about it. Go write a blog post or Facebook Page update or send an email to your list or update your website. 🙂

Meanwhile, as college basketball coach Shaka Smart says, “take ownership of your learning.” There’s a How to Use Snapchat Guide that’s pretty well buried on their site; hat tip to Lauren Cleland from Visit Savannah for telling me about it.

Here are some ideas for you….I picked up my phone this morning and took a series of screenshots of snaps, to show you how different brands are using it across one, single day.

 

When in doubt, talk about the weather, like Adirondacks, USA

Screenshot of Adirondacks USA on Snapchat showing Lake Placid Main Street weather
Screenshot of Adirondacks USA on Snapchat showing Lake Placid, New York’s Main Street weather & open shops. They’re adirondacks usa on Snapchat.

Share upcoming festivals & special events, like Visit Savannah in Georgia

Screenshot of Visit Savannah on Snapchat sharing a music festival poster snap
Share upcoming events on Snapchat, like Visit Savannah is doing with this simple snap of a music festival poster. They’re VisitSavannah on Snapchat.

Invite everyone to the bar, like Nautical Beach Resort in Lake Havasu, Arizona

Nautical Beach Resort in Lake Havasu Arizona uses Snapchat to invite everyone to the bar
Nautical Beach Resort in Lake Havasu Arizona uses Snapchat to invite everyone to the bar. They’re nauticalresort on Snapchat.

Do some newsjacking; get involved with celebrations & National/International “Day of the….”

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto celebrates International Women's Day 2016 on their Snapchat account by featuring museum bees in the Biodiversity Gallery
The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto celebrates International Women’s Day 2016 #IWD2016 on their Snapchat account by featuring museum bees in their Biodiversity Gallery. They’re romtoronto on Snapchat.

 

Snaps on Snapchat don’t have to be long, complex multimedia creations. Start with just a still photo or two, add some text or drawings, and keep it super-short. That’s what people want anyway.

Finally, when in doubt, talk about your destination’s special food or drinks.

The screenshot below from Pure Michigan tourism was a few weeks ago and not part of today’s one-day roundup, but it illustrates my point. It’s one of a series of snaps from a tour around the state eating pączki Polish pastries, a local favorite.

Pure Michigan on Snapchat sampling pączki pastries across the state
Pure Michigan on Snapchat sampling pączki pastries across the state. They’re Pure-Michigan on Snapchat.

Tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!

Update: Belatedly, I realized that I DO have a food example from today’s snaps – the San Francisco tourism folks (OnlyinSFTV on Snapchat) have a story up featuring La Urbana Mexican restaurant.

Pollo con Mole at La Urbana Mexican restaurant from San Francisco tourism on Snapchat
Pollo con Mole at La Urbana Mexican restaurant from San Francisco tourism (OnlyinSFTV) on Snapchat

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Posted in Mobile, Photos and Images, Tourism Marketing on the Web, Video, Web Communications | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thoughts after 10 years of blogging

Publish box in WordPress blog software
The Publish box in WordPress blogging software

 

“I should write a blog post about 10 years of blogging, but I’ll do it after I watch this basketball game.”

That’s how I was thinking tonight about acknowledging a decade of publishing online. No careful marketing plan, no organized campaign – only wondering if I can pop out a coherent post after a gin and tonic plus some hoops on TV.

For a moment, I worried about writing this. How long it would take? Did I have anything profound to say? Did I have a photo to go with it….because we can’t just WRITE any more; we must have images with every post or we’ve broken the visual storytelling “rules.”

10 years ago today, I published my first blog post – the next one was about (WTF?) American Express traveler’s checks, because who needs an actual blogging plan or editorial calendar – on my new family travel blog hosted on the BootsnAll Travel Network.

I had just retired from a 22+ year seagoing career in the U.S. Navy and decided to become a travel writer. An old friend, Dwight Silverman from the Houston Chronicle, told me that “a writer should have a blog,” so I went and got one.

I had no idea what I was doing.

Folks, if I had a $1 over the last decade for every time I’ve said, “I wish I knew what the hell I was doing!” I’d be a rich woman.

Here’s what’s changed in the media landscape since February 10, 2006….

1.  I worked in such isolation back then. I didn’t know anyone who did what I did, until I found a travel writer’s BBS bulletin board (now defunct) and got active on the BootsnAll travel community forum boards. When I told people I was a blogger, they looked at me like I was a complete nutball.

2. To get people’s attention, I linked to them in my blog posts. I couldn’t tweet to them or tag them on Facebook or LinkedIn – those platforms didn’t exist yet or if they did, I’d never heard of them or didn’t know how to use them. So, I was really big on outbound links as shout-outs, plus I commented a lot on other people’s blog posts.

3. Comments by actual humans on my own blog posts made my day (they still do.) I had conversations with readers of my blog via the email they provided when they left a comment, and I am still in touch with people like Kara Williams from the Vacation Gals who I met through their blog post comments.

4. WordPress software was not as easy to use as it is today. My early posts with photos were butt-ugly because I did not know the small snippet of HTML code that would nicely wrap my text around my photos. I had no idea about re-sizing photos or any of that, so I just sort of eyeballed things and jammed them in until they pretty much fit.

What is not very different in 2016…

1. I still get a thrill when I hit the blue WordPress “Publish” button. Hello, world!

2. My blog is still MY house; my personal web real estate. Mark Zuckerberg does not have any control over it. The Twitter people don’t either, and Lord knows the Google+ weenies can take a hike. For a perfectionist control freak like me, that means a lot. I will never give it up.

3. My most popular posts on here are often the ones that I least expect to get any attention; the ones that I toss off without much thought. They often reflect whatever I’m personally dealing with at the time, like how to set up a trade show booth when you don’t have any money.

4. I am still so grateful to have a publishing tool that reaches around the world, 24 hours a day, at a very small cost. If I have something to say, I always have a place to say it, and I don’t have to play “Mother, may I?” with an editor.

Thanks to Sean Keener and the BootsnAll team for giving me a place to get started.

Thanks to all of my readers over the years; you’ve made it one hell of a ride.

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Posted in What This Blog's All About | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A hashtag for every day of the week

Hashtag made of fries (courtesy Matthew Gilbert on Flickr CC
Hashtag with those fries? (courtesy Matthew Gilbert on Flickr CC)

(Part of my “Better Online Content” series of posts: quick tips on creating more effective content that takes advantage of the social web’s unique publishing environment.)

If you’re a marketing communications person who wants to connect with new customers, guests, or your “perfect visitor,” plus increase the chances of your online content being noticed at all, then you need to use hashtags when it’s appropriate to do so.

A hashtag – #wordgoeshere – is a way of grouping together all related content items in one place and, most importantly, making them searchable and more easily trackable.

You might also think of them as a flexible way to set up a focused micro-search engine, because people use hashtags to search social networks for specific information and influential people around a topic, rather than Googling around and dealing with huge piles of possibly irrelevant results.

Quick Hashtag Examples & How-to

When you add a hashtag to the body of a tweet on Twitter, it will be included when someone uses Twitter’s search engine to look for tweets with that hashtag.

On Instagram, you add it to the photo description, or in the photo’s comment box, and people searching that hashtag within the Instagram app or using a desktop tool like Iconosquare will see it.

Let’s say you are in the marketing department at a museum or historic site, and you want to learn more about digital marketing best practices and trends. Here are all the latest tweets with the hashtag #musesocial – people who added that hashtag to their tweet because it related in some way to the use of social media in museums.

To give you a more comprehensive picture, there’s a service called Tagboard that lets you collect all hashtagged content across multiple social channels.

Here is a Tagboard of all the current #musesocial tweets, Instagram posts, and Facebook updates.

Where Do Hashtags Work Best?

Twitter, and even more so on Instagram.

Do hashtags work on Facebook? Yes, but few people use them and they’re mostly seen as clutter.

Do hashtags work on Pinterest? Yes, but in Pin descriptions only. Although I think the power of Pinterest search is under-appreciated, I’m not sure that hashtags are particularly valuable there. Regular words work just fine in the search box.

Do hashtags work on LinkedIn? No. They don’t even hyperlink. A bunch of hashtags and @ symbols on LinkedIn tells me you’re auto-posting from somewhere else and ticking a delusional box that says, “Yeah, I’m active on LinkedIn!”

Do hashtags work on Google+? Yes. Does anyone care? Probably not.

Hashtags in Tourism

Many tourism organizations use and monitor a specific hashtag, like #LouisvilleLove in Louisville KY, #MTLmoments in Montréal, #SeeOKC for Oklahoma City OK, #VisitMS in Mississippi, #ILoveSharjah in the United Arab Emirates, and #LoveFL for the state of Florida. Many times you’ll find the hashtag that they’re using in their Twitter or Instagram bio.

Beyond using conference hashtags as free distance learning, here’s how I’d recommend getting started….

**  Make it simple. Participate in the “hashtag of the day:”

  • #MusicMonday or #MountainMonday
  • #TravelTuesday
  • #WineWednesday or #WaterfallWednesday
  • #TBT (the very popular Throwback Thursday, which you actually WILL find people using on Facebook)
  • #FridayFunday
  • #SaturdayNight
  • #SS or #SelfieSunday

**  My personal favorites for tourism-related niches:

  • #BuiltHeritage – historic preservation & architecture
  • #EconDev – economic & downtown development & revitalization issues
  • #MuseSocial – museums & social media
  • #MuseTech – museums & technology
  • #FindYourPark – parks in the U.S., because 2016 is the National Park Service’s centennial. Can be state & local parks, too.
  • #cycling – bike tourism is huge
  • #birding – NOT “birdwatching”
  • #craftbeer & #craftspirits
  • #EatLocal
  • #ShopLocal

That’s my quick-and-dirty introduction to using hashtags in social media, especially in tourism and destination marketing.

If you have hashtag advice or want to share some of your own favorites, the comment box below is open!

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Posted in Better Online Content series, Photos and Images, Tourism Marketing on the Web, Twitter, Web Communications | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

LinkedIn vs Facebook ad campaign: a case study

LinkedIn ads vs Facebook ads; know your goals and data. Ad illustration in 1874 book about the history of advertising (courtesy Internet Archive Book Images on Flickr Commons)
Know your goals and data. Ad illustration in 1874 book about the history of advertising (courtesy Internet Archive Book Images on Flickr Commons)

 

I’ve tried LinkedIn advertising a few times, mostly using the $50 freebie codes that they send via email. Most recently, I ran a $6 Facebook ad campaign at the same time, and thought you’d be interested in a quick comparison of the two.

Both campaigns were to boost visibility of the same Tourism Currents post, about downtown and Main Street social media marketing, in the News Feeds of our Facebook Page followers, and the feeds of tourism industry people on LinkedIn.

You can’t put a Sponsored (paid) post in the News Feeds of LinkedIn Company Page followers like you can for a Facebook Page. This is annoying, since those are precisely the people I’d like to reach, so in order to show the post to the likeliest industry prospects on LinkedIn, I chose members of various tourism-related LinkedIn Groups like the DMAI Convention and Visitors Bureau Network.

The Data: LinkedIn vs. Facebook

On LinkedIn….to put our Sponsored post in the LinkedIn News Feed of several pertinent LinkedIn Group members, for four days….

**  2,062 impressions

** 11 clicks on our blog post URL

**  2 “social actions” (one Like on the post, one new Tourism Currents Company Page follower)

**  Average Cost per Click or CPC  –  US$4.89

**  Total cost  –  US$53.78 (US$50.00 of that was free through a LinkedIn promo code)

On Facebook….to put our Sponsored post in the Facebook News Feed of our current Tourism Currents Facebook Page followers, for about three days, in the United States plus those in many other countries….the ad goal was to maximize engagement with the post (Likes, Comments, Shares, and clicks on the link itself.)

**  712 impressions (“reach”)  —  1,284 if you include organic, non-paid reach. We didn’t pay to boost the post until we’d let it run its course a bit organically, and could see that it was doing well with our Page followers.

**  45 post engagements, including 19 clicks on the post URL

**  Average Cost per Click or CPC  –  US$0.11 (yes, that’s 11 cents.)

**  Total cost  –  US$6.00

Worth noting: most of the interaction with the ad was on mobile devices, not desktop.

Which Ads Work Better, LinkedIn or Facebook?

The only way to know which one is best for you is to know your goals, know your budget, and review your data.

It’s a little early to get the complete picture from our website Google Analytics, but indications so far are that while the traffic to our site is higher from Facebook, the people who come to us from LinkedIn spend more time onsite.

“Sticky” traffic is more likely to learn more about us and consider purchasing, if they are the right audience to begin with.

Looking back over a full year, analytics (look under Acquisition) show that Facebook and Twitter send us more traffic than other social sites. LinkedIn is a distant third, but again, the people who come to us from LinkedIn stick around longer onsite.

Even more important to us is which social media sends us traffic that responds best to our two website conversion goals: email newsletter signups and looking at a page with details about our online course in social media for tourism.

The winner over the last 12 months is Twitter, both in raw numbers and in the conversion we value most – email newsletter signups. You can put monetary values on your goals, so we chose an arbitrary $5 value for looking at our Details page, and $10 value for a newsletter signup.

This tells us that maybe we need to experiment with Twitter ads!

Our runner-up for social media referral traffic is LinkedIn. In raw numbers, it’s tied with Facebook, but LinkedIn traffic converts better for us.

Does that mean it’s worth almost US$5.00 per click for LinkedIn ads?

At this point, no, not for us, but I’ll keep experimenting with those ad promo codes as long as they send them to me.

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Posted in Facebook, LinkedIn, Tourism Currents, Tourism Marketing on the Web, Web Communications | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Strong individually, strong collectively

How it should work all the time! Local Winnsboro Texas Main Street merchant Clara Ida Frances shares our Tourism Currents Facebook post about another downtown merchant, Monk's Oven restaurant.
How it should work all the time! Local Winnsboro Texas Main Street merchant Clara Ida Frances shares our Tourism Currents Facebook post about another downtown merchant, Monk’s Oven restaurant.

One of my Tourism Currents business partner Leslie McLellan‘s favorite quotes is this one….

“It’s the CVB, Tourist Board, or Chamber’s job to get people to your town. It is YOUR job to get them through your door.”

Leslie and I are leading some social media workshops for Wisconsin Main Street this week, in downtown Kenosha (I’ve never been to Wisconsin, so I’m looking forward to exploring the area including a little bit of nearby Milwaukee, plus cheese and beer!)

One of our sessions will emphasize the need for everyone to not only develop his or her own expertise and effectiveness in social media, but also to help spread the word on social media about their partners next door, up the street, down the road, or in the surrounding region.

The destinations that are most effective at engaging visitors online are those that have partners who are social-savvy …. not just one or two, but most partners, and those partners take it upon themselves to champion one another whenever possible, online and offline.

They do not wait for the CVB, Tourist Board, or Chamber to do everything.

Top-level promotion efforts from the DMO should be icing on a very solid cake of self-reliant partners who take responsibility for their own marketing, and support one another, too.

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Posted in Economic Development, Facebook, Tourism Currents, Tourism Marketing on the Web | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Travel Post Friday: On the Air with King Biscuit Time

Sonny Payne at the controls of King Biscuit Time blues radio show Helena Arkansas (photo by Sheila Scarborough)
“Sunshine” Sonny Payne at the controls of the King Biscuit Time blues radio show in downtown Helena, Arkansas (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

 

(Disclosure – I was a guest of the Mississippi Delta Tourism Association on this trip, so my travel expenses were paid for.)

“Is it okay to sit on these benches?” I asked.

“Those are the $10 seats. You wanna come in here [to the broadcast booth,] that costs $15,” said the 90-year-old host of the King Biscuit Time blues radio show, “Sunshine” Sonny Payne from behind his microphone.

“Well, I’d pay $50 to go back there!” I laughed, and Sonny shook his head, smiled and waved me into his booth that is tucked into a room at the Delta Cultural Center in downtown Helena, Arkansas.

I shared seats during KBT Show Number 17,353 with travelers Chris and Mike from Indiana, plus Linda Broome who is the Executive Director of the King Biscuit Blues Festival that was coming up in Helena later the next week.

Exterior of Delta Cultural Center King Biscuit Time section in Helena AR (photo by Sheila Scarborough)
Standing on the sidewalk looking in – the exterior of the Delta Cultural Center King Biscuit Time section in Helena, AR (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

 

“Pass the biscuits, ’cause it’s King Biscuit Time!”

They’ve been saying that since 1941 on KFFA AM radio 1360. If you’re in broadcast range in the upper Delta, Mondays through Fridays 12:15 – 12:45 p.m., tune in on your AM radio and hear the scratchy sounds of musical history. This show took blues music and its artists from the obscurity of juke joints and cotton fields, and shared their rhythms to the entire region through technology – radio.

Today, technology helps to share the blues far beyond the Delta, around the world.

“By 6:30 p.m. local tonight, the show’s in London and Australia,” said Sonny. “They put it on the internet. We film it on Fridays, too.”

Even better, go see it broadcast live; it’s a memorable and intimate experience that forces you to slow down, soak it in, and live in the moment, similar to seeing the Grand Ole Opry broadcast from the original Ryman Auditorium.

Section of King Biscuit Time booth, with over 17,000 shows broadcast from downtown Helena AR (photo by Sheila Scarborough)
Looking out from the King Biscuit Time booth, with over 17,000 shows broadcast from downtown Helena AR (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

 

Sonny Payne expertly pokes buttons on his console, waves his hand to the music, shuffles playlist CDs in and out of the player, occasionally stretches out an achy shoulder, makes jokes and talks to visitors on air, and encourages listeners to patronize show sponsors like the local Ford dealer, and the Shack Up Inn over the river and to the south in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Ever the perfectionist, he says as he turns the microphone over to the next show, “You got it; don’t give me no dead air.”

Photos, artifacts, and placards about the show and the blues surround the broadcast booth and line the room, so be sure to spend some time wandering through it and the rest of the Delta Cultural Center, either before or after the show.

Display case of King Biscuit Time radio show artifacts in the Delta Cultural Center downtown Helena Arkansas (photo by Sheila Scarborough)
Display case of King Biscuit Time radio show artifacts in the Delta Cultural Center in downtown Helena, Arkansas (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

 

If you want to see and hear my own experience, here’s the 30 minute King Biscuit Time archive video and broadcast for the day I was there, being teased by Sonny and tapping my feet to songs like Robert Junior Lockwood’s “Kind-Hearted Woman.” I’m on air to be welcomed as a guest at about time 13:40 of the video.

There are music festivals and events in and around Helena in addition to the King Biscuit Blues Festival – see Bridging the Blues for musical happenings throughout the Delta. If you want to stretch your legs and see more scenery, try the nearby Delta Heritage bike trail, a newly-opened Rails to Trails project.

But visit with “Sunshine” Sonny first.

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