There was once upon a time when you could just tell your story with a website and be done with it. No extra frills, no tweets or status updates to be concerned about, no blog posts to do. No pictures to upload. Your ‘web guy’ did it all. Like your gardener or mechanic, it was their job to make sure your story worked on the web.
Ah, those were the days…
As everyone now knows, well, nearly everyone, it is getting more complicated by the second to craft a consistent and compelling message across multiple platforms that have meaning and relevance for your customers.It can sometimes feel like you just get juggling two balls in the air and someone chucks another one at you to add to the ‘mix’. Oh sure! No problem! I love Pinterest! you are expected to say but truthfully, you have no idea how to integrate it into your current communications and worse yet, you have the sinking feeling there will be no extra budget even if you do. Furthermore, you have to produce reports saying exactly what happened when you were learning to juggle all those balls in the air and, god forbid if you dropped any!
I really feel for you if you have been tasked with managing the social story at your company without the right training, support, or budget. Yet, I can’t help but wince when I see stories that are told in a halfhearted way, with a nod to the platform and a yawn at strategic content creation. I find it so odd that hotels–big brands–sign up for an account and leave it devoid of any human presence: Like a lunar landscape of abandoned social efforts that never found their voice because there was no strongly designed narrative for the company in the first place.
Companies with strong, powerful stories have more consistent, compelling identity across multiple platforms. You know that when you click on a link on their website out to their YouTube or Pinterest or Twitter channels it will show up in the same way and take you somewhere meaningful: On a journey you enjoy and want to discover more of. This is not limited to large-scale efforts that run like a version of Avatar with mind-blowing budgets; small companies can craft a social story that authentically speaks to the reason they started their business in the first place and what they are passionate about providing for their customers. These kinds of companies understand that social media is not a computer program! It is a living, breathing, community that expects a living, breathing person to represent their business in these shared digital spaces.
Destinations in particular are up against tough competition in the digital space because anyone, literally anyone with wi-fi, can create a compelling presence online these days if they have the know-how. How are DMO’s and hotels able to be heard, experienced, in the digital landscape in a unique way that converts prospects into loyal guests and visitors?
By telling their particular story as authentically as possible. No one else can. Only that particular organization, in that time and place, is equipped to do the best job. For instance, I follow Fairmont Mount Kenya on Pinterest because I adore their William Holden stories. No one else can tell that story as well as they can! So they’ve figured it out and regularly post to that board for us fans.
As technology use increases relative to our travel experiences, business’ need to value the staff that connect to the visitor in the mobile space. Leaving mentions, comments, questions, complaints unattended or worse, responding in an automated, robotic fashion, can damage your bricks and mortar business you have worked so hard to establish. Investing in education and training on managing your social business is critical to succeeding in the digital space just as you may have invested in the land you built your business on or or in the machinery that manufacturers your product.
Resistance is futile. Millennial will continue to use technology differently and expect to be allowed to do so in your workplace. Mobile stats are unbelievable. If you are part of a multi-generational workplace, you’ll need some help sorting out internal struggles as you establish your social story. Trust me. There’ll be struggles.
The big question you need to ask first is: How are you going to ensure your story is told well? Who is going to steward your story from the board room to Twitter? Facebook? Trip Advisor? Who is going to manage the participation, and co-creation of your business story with your customers in real-time? These are just a few of the questions that business’ must address before they wholeheartedly launch into the digital space.