Train, then Trust


Warning:  this post is a bit of a rant.

Ronald Reagan made the statement “trust, but verify” famous.  I’d like to throw another one into the mix for your consideration.  “Train, then trust”.

Work with me here, people.  At some point management either has to trust their staff, or not.

There are really only two options.

  1. They need to have faith that staff has been effectively trained to carry out messaging for the brand, and send them forth to do so.  Or,
  2.  They will micro-manage every decision, every message, every post.

The most effective companies and organizations in social media have adopted the first strategy.  The American Red Cross even trains volunteers to represent them on social media channels!  If they can do that, any company can train its own staff.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s the 21st century right?  Aren’t we past the skepticism?  Haven’t we learned by now that social media isn’t just fun and games – it’s a real way to talk to real people who are interested in a real product or service.

Frankly, I’m tired.  I’m tired of trying to convince the powers that be that other people can carry the water now.  And do so competently and effectively.  It doesn’t all have to be a one-size-fits-all or top-down approach to messaging.  Or an approach that requires approval of every post before it is posted.

What many successful organizations know is that if you give your employees the training and the tools they need, empower them, and then TRUST them to do their jobs, they will do their jobs.  They will make you proud.  Not only that, those employee will have a sense of ownership.  Both in the company, and in the message they carry forth.  If they violate that trust, those employees also know that there are consequences.

At some point, corporate has to let go. They have to realize that they really don’t control the message anymore.  Shape it, yes.  But control it?  No way.  Social media has changed all that.  I think for the better.

Train, then trust.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

And while I’m ranting …

There are two fundamental schools of thought when it comes to social media communications.  There is the one brand/one channel/one size fits all school of thought.  Typically, this is where a communications department believes that they own the message and must control it.  Niche products or services under the main brand are discouraged.  My opinion?  I don’t like this model.

The second school of thought is exemplified by companies like Dell.  While they definitely have a solid single brand, they don’t shy away from promoting niche products to niche audiences.  Why?  Because niche is where the passion is!  Dell has no fewer than 13 niche Facebook pages – all Dell branded – that speak directly to the needs of specific audiences.  And they are blowing it up.  Dell knows that just because you like servers, that doesn’t necessarily mean you also like deals from the Dell Outlet.

This is the fallacy of the first school of thought.  One size does NOT fit all.

But here I am.  Beating my head against the wall.  Again.  Still.  They haven’t learned.  Will they?

Tired of Searching for Flickr Photos of Your Destination? Automate It!

Flickr Icon[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]As many of you already know, I am a huge fan of Flickr.  I use it personally to share photos from my life and my travels.  I also use it professionally to help promote the Colorado River Trail region with our Flickr group.  With this group, I’m able to get candid and often high-quality photos from people enjoying my destination.  I’ve used them in blog posts, on Facebook and Twitter, and even in a publication (with the photographer’s permission, of course).

Finding these photos can be very time-consuming – especially when your destination consists of 11 Texas counties.  Manually searching for town or attraction names is tedious at best.  What if there were a way to have great photography delivered to you on a daily basis?

What if you didn’t have to hunt for them any more?  What would that be worth to you?

Now.  What if I told you it was free and just takes a few simple steps to get set up?

Well, wait no more!   Continue reading

Fish Where the Fish Are

A man's man's breakfast

Courtesy of Coos Bay-North Bend VCB/David Miller

Back in June of 2009, I wrote a post about The Ones To Watch.  In it, I highlighted two smaller communities that were using social media effectively to help promote their destinations.  And while neither of them have really left the scene, Coos Bay, OR is back with a simple lesson to us all: Fish where the fish are.   Both literally and metaphorically. Continue reading

Sharing Your Destination with the World: Lessons Learned Using Flickr

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]Last week I had the distinct pleasure of being one of the presenters at the 2011 Social Media Tourism Symposium.  As cool an experience as this was for me, it was made even better by getting to present with my friend Katie Cook, Interactive Marketing Manager with the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Our topic was “Sharing Your Destination with the World: Lessons Learned Using Flickr.”  Katie and I both have Flickr groups for our destinations, and use them extensively as a source for user-generated content.

Check out the Colorado River Trail Flickr group and the Visit Austin Texas Flickr group to see the amazing material we have to work with. Continue reading

How To Treat Conference Speakers Like Rock Stars – #SoMeT Style

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]There’s a lot to like about the Social Media Tourism Symposium.  Like a whole lot.  As a practitioner in the industry, it’s hands down the best education out there.  We get to learn from the best and brightest in the field, and go home with ideas that we can put to work in our own destinations right away.  As a self-proclaimed Tourism Geek, I get to spend 3 days with my people.  We understand each other, both professionally and personally.  I’m home.  Continue reading

Bam! Market Research Made Easy

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]Social media changes on a daily basis.  So much so, it’s hard to keep up with the newest shiny toy that shows up to solve all our marketing problems.  It’s great to experiment and try new things, but sometimes we forget about the fundamentals as we chase after the brass ring.   That’s why I get so excited when I see brands that still do the simple – and often overlooked – things in social media marketing.  Take today for instance …  Continue reading

Thanks for Commenting

Thank You by nateOne, on Flickr[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]I’ve been a fan of Lisa Barone (@lisabarone) and her work for some time now.  If you’ve ever read her posts on the Outspoken Media blog, you’ll already know why.  She’s a prolific writer, and provides posts that are easy to understand and tips that are easy to implement.  While her depth of knowledge of all things online seems to know no limits, her most interesting and useful posts to me are about blogging, branding, online marketing, small business marketing, and social media.  Plus, she cracks me the hell up.

I’m an RSS subscriber to the Outspoken Media blog, as well as the Small Business Trends blog which she also writes for.  Basically, I hope to write like her when I grow up (never mind that I’m older than her).  She has a “no BS” style and a sense of humor that makes me laugh out loud in my cube farm at work.  She’s engaging and makes me want to keep reading.

I’ve chatted with her casually on Twitter a few times, regularly retweet her, and she kindly let me re-post one of her articles in a newsletter I write for work.  But in all the time I’ve been reading her blog, I’ve never left a comment.  Until a few weeks ago. Continue reading

Smart Businesses Watch Conference Hashtags

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]For the last couple of days, Texas CVBs have converged on San Marcos TX for the 2011 Texas Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Annual Conference.  I am fortunate to have joined them for the first time in several years.  The educational content has been first-rate and the San Marcos CVB and Embassy Suites San Marcos have done a terrific job hosting us.

But they weren’t the only ones who provided excellent customer service and hospitality.  There’s a local Twitter account called TwitBiz San Marcos (@TwitBizSM) that helps shine a light on some of the great local businesses and restaurants located in San Marcos.  They do a hell of a job. Continue reading

How Do You Say Thank You? Like This.

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]About a year ago, I was preparing for a presentation on social media marketing for a small town business group.  The focus was going to be about how small businesses could benefit from the use of social media to market their products and services.  I wanted to provide them with some examples of how businesses just like them are using social media marketing and seeing results.   Who better to ask for ideas than the social media world itself?

I put out a request for examples on Twitter and within the day I had several leads to research.  Becky McCray sent a few ideas to me, but one in particular stood out.  Continue reading

National Tourism Week Goes Social – 2011

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]About this time last year I wrote about some cool social media promotions that DMOs around the country were doing to help celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week.  This year, National Travel and Tourism Week is May 7-15, 2011.  Hundreds of events will be held throughout the week to inform the public about the economic impact that travel has in our communities.

Many groups are holding local rallies.  Some are doing outreach to the media.  And others are stepping up their advocacy efforts to elected officials.  Some DMOs are including social media as a major component of their National Travel and Tourism Week activities.

Last year, I featured the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Visit Indiana, and Visit Jacksonville, Florida.  Swing by the U.S. Travel Association for all the information and resources you need to launch an effective campaign in your destination.  And if you tweet, be sure to add #TravelTuesday and #travelrally to your tweets on Tuesday, May 10 to help spread the word.

Are y’all ready for round 2?

Continue reading