The Idaho Division of Tourism is constantly looking for ways to improve our effectiveness, especially when it comes to getting the message out. Social media has become an integral part of this strategy in recent years. With this mission in mind, we recently enlisted the services of Think! Social Media to audit our social media strategy. The results opened our eyes to many important trends in the industry and highlighted several areas for improvement. Below we share a few points that we feel are important considerations for social media and marketing professionals in both the public and private sectors. These insights are a combination of our own internal perspectives and some helpful pointers we received from Think! Social Media.

“Social media is a great way to engage and connect with consumers but it’s important to be strategic about which networks to use and what role they play. Every network is a different tool for a different job.”
—Think! Social Media

facebookFacebook— Quality is more important than quantity. Maintaining a high volume of followers for your business page is only useful if those people are interacting with your content in a manner that shows you some return on the time and resources you dedicate to your page(s). Try to limit your daily posts to one or two so as not to water down your message or scare away followers who may feel like they are seeing too much of nothing from a single place.  Posting engaging and thoughtful pictures and challenging your followers to interact with your brand will produce a better long-term social media result.

twitterTwitter—Being concise, connected and thoughtful is key. Tweeting a variety of interesting pictures and articles, paired with accurate-but-creative hashtags can help the Twitter community see what you represent and find ways to relate to your brand. Simply broadcasting a one-way comment to the world is not utilizing Twitter to its fullest potential. Twitter is designed to be concise. Meet the challenge by being creative in your approach and looking outside of your immediate wheelhouse (while staying in the appropriate realm) when tweeting. Demonstrating more than just your precise function by looking to similar industries can broaden your reach. Actively listening to your audience can enhance your message.

pintrestPinterest—Demonstrating value is the name of the game with Pinterest. It allows users to showcase what they do in an interactive and connected fashion. The graphic layout of Pinterest affords dynamic opportunities for message building, as long as the content is thoughtful and appropriate to the brand. Ask yourself, “If I had never encountered what my brand does, would I look at and interact with me?” In other words, are you representing your brand in a way that is universally appropriate but also personal and engaging? Be sure to utilize opportunities to connect with other like users and spread your message by using hashtags and @ signs.

google+Google+—This may be the way of the future for the simple fact that Google has cornered the search engine and email market and will be able to reach virtually anyone on the web as the Google+ format gains steam. Having a regularly updated and thoughtfully worded Google+ account will boost your SEO rankings and can create opportunities through Google’s ownership of YouTube as well. Use of hashtags is important on Google+.

wordpress blogBlogging—High quality and consistent attention to your blog will yield more SEO results and help you build an inviting brand. This format allows you to generate your own content, so use it wisely. If you don’t have time to dedicate to a blog it may not be for you — in many cases, a poorly run blog can do more harm than good. If you are regularly building your content, be sure to connect to and distribute through other social media platforms, and make your content link and search friendly. Also be sure that your navigation is easy and empirically sound.

instagramInstagram—Consistent hashtags and frequent, appropriate content are the keys to gaining a healthy following on Instagram. Be creative but focused in your hashtag use. Simply stating the obvious about what you do works to an extent, but consider other ways of looking at your content that might be appealing to users in other segments. For instance, if you sell winter apparel, you might consider a hashtag for a picture of a winter coat that includes an active or emotive feeling like #powderday. Instagram is also a great clearinghouse for redistributing and finding brand appropriate content. Be sure to credit the originator of any pictures you use.

youtubeYouTube—A colorful banner goes a long way to capture users’ attention. With the volume of content on YouTube, what you post needs to be compelling and relatable. If you don’t have the time or resources to build a YouTube channel, you might be better off having one or two good videos rather than several low quality videos that can erode your message.

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