Yesterday, I talked about the 5 Reasons Why Travel & Tourism Destinations Need Social Media, and how social media is being used by more and more people than you may have realized.
Social media helps people share news about their lives with their friends and family. Not only are they telling people they went on vacation, they’re able to show them where they went, what they did, and all the good times they had. They’re especially doing it on the photo and video sharing sites. Here are fives sites you should use to promote your own travel and tourism destination.
What it is: This is the website everyone knows when it comes to video sharing. According to one source, there are 1,500 years worth of videos on YouTube right now. But that’s because they make it so easy.
Get started:Go to YouTube.com and set up your account. If you already have a Google account of some sort (Gmail, iGoogle, Google Docs), you already have an account, because Google owns YouTube. Start finding other friends and guests by importing your email address book. Then follow the instructions to upload your videos.
Strategy: Encourage guests to upload their own videos and tag your destination in it. (This helps you get found for any searches on YouTube.) Upload your own videos (regular or HD) and embed them in your blog or link to your Facebook account.
What it is: Vimeo is another video sharing site that’s not nearly as big as YouTube. The benefit to you is that you get to be a bigger fish in a bigger pond. According to their website, it was originally “. . . created by filmmakers and video creators who wanted to share their creative work, along with intimate personal moments of their everyday life,” so there tends to be more of an artsy feel to it, but you’re not limited to only being a filmmaker or artist.
Get started: Go to Vimeo.com and set up an account. Import your email address book (Google or Yahoo), and make connections with your guests.
Strategy: Same as Facebook. If your guests use Vimeo, encourage them to upload videos and tag your destination in it. Upload your regular and HD videos, and then use the embed code to place them in your blog or link to your Facebook account.
What it is: Flickr is one of the two most popular photo sharing sites. In fact, by strict definition, it’s a social network centered around photo sharing (actually, all the video and photo sharing tools are considered social networks). You upload your photos and share them with your friends, embed them in blog posts, and link to them in Twitter messages.(Note: Flickr has begun accepting 90 second videos for uploading. While they won’t give YouTube a run for their money, they are making it easier for Flickr fans to keep their video in one place too.)
Get started: If you already have a Yahoo account, you have a Flickr account. Otherwise, sign up, import your email address book, and then start uploading photos. If you have an iPhone or Android, you can also upload photos directly to Flickr from your phone. There is also a digital camera storage card called the Eye-Fi that will not only store your photos, but upload them whenever you’re in a wifi hotspot.
Strategy: Hold a best photo contest and encourage guests to upload the photos to Flickr and Picasa (next section), and then embed the photos in the comments section of your website or your Facebook page.. Post the entries to your website, and allow voting for the best photo (use SurveyMonkey.com). Use the best photo(s) on your promotional materials. Also, consider using a Creative Commons license with your photos (this lets other people use your photos as long as they give you credit), and let them use photos that link back to your Flickr page.
What it is: Another photo sharing site, but this one is owned by Google. I like Picasa a little more because it’s easier to integrate with a Blogger blog, plus they have different paid subscription levels. You can get 20GB for $5, or 200GB for $50.
Get started: If you have a Gmail account or a YouTube account, you’re all set. Otherwise, go to picasaweb.google.com Next, go to Picasa.com and download the Photo Uploader. This will let you upload photos in batches, rather than a few at a time.
Strategy: First, don’t worry about whether you can upload videos to Picasa, because you can also use YouTube. (Remember, they’re both owned by Google.) Next, just like with Flickr, hold a photo contest, and use the best photos in your promotional material. And consider using a Creative Commons license with your Picasa photos.
What it is: The biggest social network in the world. We talked about it previously.
Get started: Hopefully you already started a Facebook account, but if not, go to Facebook.com and start an account. Get comfortable with it and then start a business page (what they used to call a “Fan Page”) for your own business. Invite friends to “Like” your business page, and do it more than once (people need reminding).
Strategy: While this won’t be the hub of your social media campaign, it needs to be a major part of it. Facebook will have more of your guests and customers on it than any other social network. This is where you need to push a lot of your marketing message, which will drive people back to your main website or blog.
Where should you start?
While there is a chicken and egg question about whether you should join social networks first or start with photo and video sites, it ultimately doesn’t matter. It will take a few days to get everything ramped up. Focus on one video site and one photo site. Pick the one you like the best, and the one that is easiest to use, and just start using it.
At the same time, pick the social network you want to start on (I recommend Facebook, since that’s where everyone is), and work on that one as well. You’ll ultimately spend more time on Facebook than you will on your photo and video sites, so consider these sites as supporting sites for your social network.