Last week, a few of us from Spindustry Digital attended the Iowa Tourism Conference (#iatourism) in Waterloo (@WaterlooIowa). We built the site for Travel Iowa, so it was a great chance to see how their team interacts with the tourism and destination marketing professionals around the state who are learning how digital marketing is changing their world.
First, it was interesting just how much of the program centered on digital marketing. There was a presentation by Mary Neubauer of the Iowa Lottery (@ialottery) on how they have implemented social media, including lessons learned, and how they measure return. In addition to Neubauer’s presentation, there were workshops covering Blogging, Facebook, Pinterst and Twitter.
During the lunch session on the first day, there was a very interesting dissection of an elusive goal – making your video go viral. While we started out skeptical, we were impressed with the six tips provided by Tod Maffin (@todmaffin). Knowing your audience, embracing the unofficial spokesperson and building off a win with successive rounds were just some of his tips. There are no guarantees, and he admitted that, but a strategy and framework can certainly help. Everyone in attendance will remember the Diamond Shreddies campaign.
While it can be daunting to learn new things, the destination marketing / tourism industry should be excited by what is taking place. Yes, an informed consumer and one who shares presents new challenges. It also presents opportunity to enlist an army of supporters promoting your winning location. Also, while certainly there are routes that require investment, the essential tools of social media are free and the cost of producing video and other content is dramatically less than in days past.
So, as you go on vacation, tell people about your hometown, or simply explore the world from your desktop or phone, know that there are professionals learning to embrace these tools as well. Watch them as they grow and know that you can be a part of helping them succeed and sharing great places to live, visit and experience.
Many presentations and speaker information can be found at the 2013 Iowa Tourism Conference page.