WV Tourism Department Hosts First Training Session

A view from above the dome of the stunning state capital building in Charleston, WV. Photo courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office.

A view from above the dome of the stunning state capital building in Charleston, WV. Photo courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office.

By Cassidy McCoy

The West Virginia Tourism Department, under the new Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby, is hosting training sessions and regional meetings throughout 2018. The first training session was held on January 23, 2018 at 11 a.m. with more already scheduled for February and March.

The January tourism training was hosted by Candace Nelson, Digital Marketing Coordinator at the WV Tourism Office with the topic “Showcasing Your Destination Through Social Media.” The presentation began by defining social media in basic terms, revealed that 4 out of 5 people in the country are on social media and then moved to the topic of where to post.

Fifteen popular social media sites that may be used were laid out in a graphic and there was an interesting media comparison quote from Gary Vaynerchuk that reads “It took 38 years before 50 million people gained access to radios. It took television 13 years…It took Instagram a year and a half.”

The four widely used social media sites were broke down to provide a little insight into the potential marketing reach. Facebook accounts for 2.01 billion monthly active users with a reported 76% of online U.S adults with over $75,000 yearly earnings. YouTube boasts 1.5 billion users, Instagram 800 million and Twitter 328 million but each has a different demographic breakdown provided in the slideshow.

The presentation helps tourism marketers know what to post and suggests the kinds of content, such as videos or short stories, for each of the big social media sites. The tourism department provides examples and engagement data from their own accounts while providing helpful tips about engaging content and effective posts. It suggested posting to Facebook once per day, YouTube 2-3 times per week, Instagram once per day and Twitter at least 3 times per day in order to capitalize on the post activity.

The presentation also covered when to use paid social posts and what the difference between a boosted post and a paid ad are when it comes to paid content. It was suggested that sponsored timeline posts let organic reach start before paying to boost the content. Customizing buttons and target audiences for boosted posts was also covered with some examples available.

To wrap up the training session Nelson talked about how to engage audiences and potential customers with posts. She said “reach out to those who post relevant content, reply to positive comments, share their posts, and build genuine relationships.” She also focused on the benefits of offering good customer service relationships when people want to complain or have a need and taking the opportunity to market before, during and after travel.

Destination Marketing is using social media frequently to make an impact on travelers and the January 23rd training hosted through GoToMeeting had an overwhelming response and participation. In fact, the event maxed out and the tourism department has decided to increase the capacity allowed for upcoming training opportunities. On February 27 Jeffrey Lusk, Executive Director at Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority, will present “Connecting Local Partners Through Advertising” and then Justin Ferrell, Digital Relativity Technical Director, will present a “Google Analytics” session on March 27. For more information, find the slideshow at https://gotowv.com/industry-information/industry-trainings/ and don’t forget to follow @gotowv for fun posts and industry news.

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