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?

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

#SoMeT Wrap Up

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]I’m back home from one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended.  I’ve even had a few days to digest all the great information, but honestly, my head is still swimming.  There was just so much to learn.  Some of the information served as a refresher, or even a kick in the pants to get started on things I should already be doing.

Other presentations shared information that was new to me, and my mental wheels are seriously turning.  In addition to all the great content, probably what excited me the most was the opportunity to meet people IRL that I had only known online previously.  What a fantastic group of smart and creative people!

So what conference had such an impact on me?  The Social Media Tourism Symposium – or #SoMeT – held in Loudoun, VA from November 17-19, 2010.  Kudos to Dave Serino of Gammet Interactive for putting together the conference of the year – regardless of the industry you’re in.

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Go Behind the Scenes with Tourism Currents

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]There’s just nothing cooler than a behind the scenes tour.  Getting to see something that most people don’t?  Well, that’s the stuff that bragging rights are made for! Come on.  Admit it.  Going behind the scenes makes you feel a little special, doesn’t it?  Well it should.

That’s just how I hope to make you feel with this post.  Special.  You’re going to get an insider’s look at Tourism Currents (affiliate link) – one of the best places to get social media training for tourism industry professionals around.   I wrote about Tourism Currents in a previous post. Go ahead.  Look for yourself.  You’ll see – it’s good stuff!

So here is some Q&A with Sheila Scarborough, half of the Tourism Currents team.  Becky McCray is the other half of the team.  Together, they possess a treasure trove of knowledge and experience.  They are the dynamic duo.  Trust me.  You’ll think so too.

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#tourismchat – Q&A with Its Creators Anne Hornyak and Betsy Decillis

tourismchat logo[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”] Social media is a two-way street.  It’s about the give and take.  The conversation.  It’s about sharing what you know, and knowing that others will reciprocate when they can.

In the tourism industry, I think this comes naturally.  We’re all a pretty friendly bunch, with he sole goal of helping people have a good time in our destinations.

It works the same way with fellow tourism industry professionals.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard one DMO person say to another, “I’m gonna steal that idea!”  To me, that’s the highest form of flattery.  Someone else thinks your idea is good enough to use in their own efforts.  Why re-invent the wheel, right?  If there’s an idea you can use, modify for your situation, and put to good use, then why the hell not?

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5 Tourism Industry Tweeps You Should Follow in 2010

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]David Letterman gets it.  His Top 10 list is usually the part of his show that everyone looks forward to.  I know I do.  I love lists.  To me, they’re like when you’re at a presentation and the speaker says, “If you only remember <insert any number here> things from my speech today, remember these.”  It catches your attention, right?  Now, you’re really listening.  Lists distill all the great content down into bite size pieces.  Things that are relatively easy to remember.  The good stuff.

I’ve seen several “Top 10” lists since the start of 2010.  You’ve got your top 10 predictions, top 10 trends in one industry or the other, top 10 reasons why something is the greatest thing ever, top 10 companies to watch, etc., etc.  And the list goes on.  Truthfully, I’ve probably read most of the ones I see.

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School’s in Session: Social Media Learning Resources for Tourism

class picture[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]School days.  School days.  Good ole golden rule days.  Now that Fall is in the air, many people are heading back to the classroom.  Whether it’s my own (soon to be) 8-year-old who is starting the second grade, or if you’re heading back to college yourself, September is synonymous with “back to school”.  That, and college football.  But that’s another blog post entirely.

If you’re in the tourism industry, you’re wrapping up the busy summer season and beginning your preparations for holiday celebrations.  Sure professional development is important, but who has time?  If we’re lucky, we can attend a seminar sponsored by the chamber of commerce.  Or we might make it to our state’s Governor’s Conference on tourism.  To top it all off, now there’s social media marketing to try to get a handle on.

There are plenty of conferences, seminars, and other learning opportunities that cover social media and marketing with social media.  There are few, however, that deal specifically with using social media in a destination marketing organization (DMO) setting.  Until now.

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