When you have very little money to spend on marketing, you’re constantly trying to think up ways to stretch your reach. We had great help getting our Social Media program off the ground initially by asking others (tourists) to help us spread the word about events they were attending – crowdsourcing at its finest. Several months ago I started wondering if the same type of program would work by enlisting those in the community who are using Social Media, or want to use it, to assist in the marketing of our destination. Since 2009 we have been marketing our area primarily via Social Media due to lack of marketing dollars. It has been exciting, exhilarating, and extremely grueling. And as time has gone on, as a department of one, the need for help has been growing and growing. I had an idea of what could be done, but there never seemed time to get all the pieces together. (Bet that sounds familiar doesn’t it?).
The Creation of a Community within a Community
Our small town recognizes the importance of Social Media, but our small businesses have not really embraced it due to lack of knowledge and feelings of intimidation. Since our community is made up of a variety of small businesses, I want to help them use about Social Media and in turn hope that they will assist in promoting the destination to their friends and followers. The end result is to build a strong Social Media Community within our own Community. This could be a win for everyone – a win for our small businesses as they will have a group of others helping to promote each of them and a win for our destination as we’ll get some help promoting the area.
It seemed like the best way to go about this was to host a Social Media Meetup. The first one was held at the end of 2011. Anyone could attend. You did not have to be affiliated with any organization. At the Meetup we had 35 people representing 28 businesses. It was quite a mix of people – from those who use Social Media to those who hope to use it in the future and are looking to get started.
The first Meetup covered the following items:
- The purpose of the Meetup group – Education
- How we can help each other – Using Social Media to help promote each other
- What they would like to see covered at future Meetups
- Provided each attendee with a page of posts that could be used throughout the next 30 day period covering events and activities around the area.
For resort area marketing, you have to sell the destination first. After that you can “drill down” to small businesses that make up the community. We all have times when we can’t think of what to post, so by all of us combining what we’re offering, we should be able to post more frequently and extend the reach of not only the destination but our small businesses as well.
Building a Community within a Community
Will this work? I don’t know…I sure hope so. Our second Meetup is on the horizon and we have a full agenda including:
- Facebook Timeline overview
- Who to Follow on Twitter and Facebook – we will share monthly who has provided great content links for the group to follow
- Discussion regarding social media advantages for small business
- Monthly Q & A session
- Distribution of social media posts to use for the following month
Each Meetup is scheduled to be no longer than 1 ½ hours long. We’ll see how it goes ~ I’ll keep you posted!
The Goal of the Social Media Community within our own Community
It’s simple. To crowdsource our efforts to increase awareness about each of our small businesses as well as the destination. Let’s hope that by the end of the year we have a strong Meetup group that continues to develop and we can each look at our own marketing statistics and see that our Social Media efforts have grown.
Do you have something like this in your community? If so, please share what you’re doing and let us know what is working for you.