By Stephen Rhodes
In our recent newsletter , I talked about how social media has taken the marketing world by storm and how traditional marketing tools like newspapers, radio and television are struggling in this economy.
This idea of trusted communities found in applications like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is rooted in social interaction, where decisions are made based on the strength of a recommendation. Does it come from a trusted source? Do we value their opinion?
Seldom do we make a purchase today without consulting someone else’s opinion. And sometmes we solicit the views of people we don’t even know.
Recently I spent 10 wonderful days in Newfoundland, including the beautiful village of Twillingate in the title. My wife and I prefer to use bed and breakfast accommodation because it affords and opportunity to meet new people, both our hosts and other travellers, who are a source of useful information. Most of our trip was pre-planned so in searching for b&bs across the province I consulted a number of websites and read all the reviews before making a selection. I don’t know any of the people who wrote the reviews or their wants and needs, their standards or their expectations, so I am careful to read between the lines when someone writes a negative review. This kind of research provides a guideline not an absolute.
Tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc are all capable of building communities of people who want to share content, information, news and travel advice. Over time you develop trusting relationships with the people in these communities, much like you do in other networks, whether personal (school associations, church, service club) or business (chamber of commerce, networking organizations).
So, a simple request for a recommendation for a bed and breakfast in St. John’s produces multiple responses. Ask for restaurant recommendations, things to see and do, places to go and you have wealth of information at your fingertips. Literally. Pictured, at right, is our view of the narrows (Signal Hill in the distance ) from the Cantwell House, a beautiful bed and breakfast in downtown St. John’s.
Newfoundland Tourism has done a tremendous job marketing The Rock this year with attractive newspaper ads and television commercials. But once we made the decision to go, we relied on our community of friends to plan the details. Our community has expanded to include our online world through Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn. As we travelled we kept our friends up to date with status updates on Facebook.
Think of the possibilities for business. Social media provides opportunities to connect with communities of interest. In our case the door was open for hotels, motels and b&bs, restaurants, pubs and old fashioned church suppers (we went to one), car rental agencies, points of interest and activities including ice berg and whale tours.
Social media is a powerful tool, even twittering in Newfoundland. And by the by, Newfoundland is completely wired.