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Why should attractions use social networking?


Social media is the fastest growing category of internet marketing, and it’s easy to see why when Facebook alone has more than 500 million users – or potential customers. But do social media actually benefi t attractions operators and how can they track who’s using it? Kathleen Whyman asks the experts.


S


ocial media is important for all businesses


MARC A SMITH


because it’s the place where many customers form and express their opinions about your products and services. It’s also a powerful way to provide better support before, during and after the sale to customers who may understand the strengths and weaknesses of your product better than you do. Using accurate targeting, it can also be an effective way to get your message out to a potentially wide audience at a modest cost. When you properly use a collection of social media, like email,


chief social scientist, Connected Action / Social Media Research Foundation


blogs, wikis, web discussion boards, Twitter, Facebook, or leading- edge applications like location-based services, you can build or reinforce a set of relationships with the key people talking about your category of products or services you offer. These infl uential people may already be widely known as industry leaders or journalists, but social media has opened the fi eld to people who may be passionate about your sector albeit relatively unknown [to you]. Finding these people is the fi rst challenge, followed by building an authentic rela- tionship. The stream can be daunting, however, and even dedicated staff can be overwhelmed without tools to focus in on the key people and topics that matter to you. One method for creating a clearer picture of the sea of posts, messages and tweets is to apply the social science techniques of social network analysis (SNA) that builds maps of collections of connections between people and things. SNA has been an esoteric topic for years but the rise of social media and social network services has made SNA more accessible than ever.


6 Attractions Handbook 2011-2012 6 S


ocial media sites such as Twitter and Fa-


SIMON JONES


cebook are already used by large com- munities, so tapping into these is an excellent way for visitor attractions to create immediate awareness about special events, offers or news. It’s also an excellent way to gather feedback about what your visi-


marketing director, Digital Visitor


tors did and didn’t like, to make loyal customers feel special and to quickly deal with any unsatisfi ed customers. But, ultimately, the aim should be to direct people back to your own website where they then can make an enquiry or booking. These offsite social media sites are however only one aspect of


social media marketing and an effective social media marketing strategy should consider both offsite and onsite social media. Encouraging your online users to upload comments, photos and


videos of their experiences on your own website provides you with information and imagery to use in other marketing campaigns. It increases the browsing time of your online visitor, increases organic search traffi c, encourages repeat visits, increases your site's overall interactivity and its attractiveness, while building brand loyalty. Our clients include attractions such as SS Great Britain, Longleat,


Bristol Zoo and Thermae Bath Spa and our results consistently show that crossing over content from the onsite social media solution to offsite social media solutions such as Facebook and Twitter can generate additional visitors to your site. For example, crossing over just 10 reviews to your Facebook page per month will generate extra visitors up to 2.5 times within your community per month.


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