When you consider which companies are active on social media, a tourism council is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But the Tourism Council of Frederick County’s (Md.) use of social media shows how social media platforms can be used to promote tourism beyond bland “A new play is premiering” or “A new restaurant is opening” type postings.
Using social media to promote tourism
The council’s Facebook page contains links from the council’s website, links from local businesses and links from outside media, the last of which is key. If the page only included links from the council and the businesses it promotes, it would feel like the page was talking at the user: “Hey, isn’t Frederick County great?”
But including the outside links lends an air of credibility. A user may not trust the tourism council’s assessment of a restaurant or attraction, but he may consider DininginDC or The Huffington Post to be a trusted source.
The tourism council recently posted a link to its Facebook page about a Maryland Public Television special about historic barns in Maryland. This posting probably won’t directly result in an inflow of tourist dollars to Frederick County, but it keeps users educated and engaged, perhaps leading to tourist dollars in the future.
Kershner noted that the council has used social media to engage with people about and track interest in Frederick Restaurant Week, which begins March 5.
Social media also enables the Tourism Council of Frederick County’s to effectively provide users with customer service, Kershner said.
Other ways to engage
One of Frederick County’s key tourist attractions is the Museum of Frederick County history, operated by the Historical Society of Frederick County. The Historical Society is another company that is active on Facebook and Twitter.
The Historical Society primarily uses social media to post historical facts and questions. For instance, the society’s Twitter feed recently noted that U.S. Major General George B. McClellan paid a visit to Frederick on Feb. 26, 1862.
If there is any doubt about social media’s impact on the tourism industry, you only need to take a look at Tourism Currents, an online social media course specifically aimed at tourism professionals. E-Tourism is Here, a website that covers social media marketing for the travel industry, noted that Pinterest, the rapidly growing two-year-old social photo-sharing site, is ripe for use by the tourism industry: “Travel products, from hotels to destinations, rely on visual imagery in the selling process, which makes Pinterest a natural social marketing arena for them.”
Meanwhile, the Tourism Council of Frederick County’s also has plans for engaging users online beyond Facebook and Twitter, Kershner said. She hopes to soon expand promotion of Frederick County to Pinterest, blogging and an online newsletter.