Community Management Advice From Tourism Pros

Posted: January 13th, 2022

To all you content-creating, troll-fighting, Tourism Geeks out there, your day is coming – Community Manager Appreciation Day is Monday, January 24, 2022. We know how hard it is to be a good community manager and we appreciate you!

To help celebrate the day, we’ve put together this post of tips, advice, and humor from some of the top community managers in the tourism space!

Combined, these community managers used all the top networks to promote their destinations: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Not only are they creating content and monitoring engagement, they’re also advocating for partners, recording weekly radio segments, updating event calendars, optimizing paid content and ads, and building relationships with local photographers through social media.

What do you love about managing your communities?

As tourism social media managers, you’re facilitating online conversations about your community to inspire travel, providing recommendations and customer service to those currently in your destination, listening to locals share their pride, and leveraging content from local influencers and ambassadors.

“It’s also rewarding when I hear a client say something I posted brought in a lot of business. Just recently a business I work with had a shipment of a new product come in. When I shared an image, I’m told people flooded the store specifically because they saw it on social. Makes me feel like what I’m doing really is worth it. We all know it is, but sometimes a little proof is nice.”

– Jarrod Lyman – Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory

TwoSix Tips:

To me, it’s about supporting our local small businesses and organizations in areas where they may not be familiar or restrained by time in fully leveraging. Owning and running a business is a challenging task which often leads to many missed opportunities, especially when it comes to effectively marketing themselves. The DMO can play an important role in helping to build awareness for all of the various partners and businesses in a community. They in a way are an extension of their partners’ marketing departments.

How has community management changed over time?

Social media is always changing so it makes sense that the needs and wants of your communities have also changed. Most of us in this post started managing communities in 2009-2010 so we’ve seen a lot of change. From creating MySpace accounts and becoming a social media guru/ninja/specialist to watching networks like Flickr, Vine, and Google+ come and go, the early days were filled with pushing out (organic) content to anyone who may stumble upon it in their feeds because there were no algorithms.

Then random visitors started tagging your destination. Your focus turned towards generating engagement, training staff and partners, and convincing board members that this was something that would stick around. Add in content calendars, influencers, ambassadors, user-generated content, algorithms, paid ads, and data analysis and you’ve got all the parts needed for your social media strategy today!

“Exactly half of my employment time now with the CVB has been under the pandemic, so community management has evolved in unexpected ways. What do you share on social media when you are promoting a destination during quarantine? How do you encourage safety and travel? With the pandemic our staff grew smaller in number, so our individual job duties increased. But this gave us an opportunity to learn more “outside the box” skills and a greater respect for what our fellow employees are accomplishing.”

– LaShelle Mikesell, Digital Media and Marketing Coordinator, Visit Muskegon

TwoSix Tips:

Community management has changed a lot in the last decade. The job has grown from simply posting on social organically to a much more analytical and paid role. Being able to manage and interpret data is key along with being able to create robust marketing plans that leverage the tools we have today that simply didn’t exist before. It’s a legit marketing role and likely one of the most important in an organization. Social media used to be something that was cute and fun. In a way it still can be but today it’s arguably the most important aspect of the entire DMO’s marketing presence. Those community managers have a significant role to play and in many ways are the tip of the spear instead of an afterthought with emojis as they once were.

To stay up-to-date on changes and trends, check out blogs or sign up for e-newsletters from sites like Mashable, Social Media Examiner, Business News, Social Media Today, MeetEdgar, Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Buffer, Adobe, SimpleView, and the TwoSix Digital blog, of course! There are also many podcasts and even TikTok videos on these topics. And don’t forget about Facebook groups!

What makes managing tourism communities unique compared to other brands?

On one hand, promoting a destination with beautiful photos is easy. But you’re also trying to convince your audience to choose your destination over hundreds of other destinations, most of which are trying to be everything for everyone. Creating unique content and providing excellent customer service are two ways to connect with your audience on a more personal level.

We are helping people plan a very special time – it’s not something being used every day, it’s not buying a can opener. We are helping to guide them to time off, time to decompress, time with family. That’s a pretty trusted position to be in.

– Laura Tyunaitis, Marketing Director

While I make a lot of jokes about the negativity, the majority of tourism marketing is positive. We’re inspiring travel. We’re helping people make memories. We get to show off what makes our area special. There’s another layer of authenticity there than when you’re with a large corporate brand. There’s (hopefully) a lot less “Let’s run this past legal” before you post anything than there is when you’re with some large company pretending to be cool.

– Jarrod Lyman – Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory

TwoSix Tips:

Destination marketing is challenging due to the vastness and variety of the things that need to be promoted. Defining our audiences, targeting appropriate segments with content that will resonate with them, and staying on message with those individual consumer interests is key to maintaining engagement. There is no one size fits all approach here. In addition to that, DMO marketers get pulled in a lot of directions as to what they should be promoting whether for political, membership, or purely selfish reasons. They have a very challenging task in prioritizing and delivering the right messaging to the right people at the right time without watering down or overexposing their destination product. They often wear many hats too which can hinder the focus that is needed to clearly communicate with the variety of personalities they encounter along the way.

What tips do you have for writing, organizing, scheduling, posting, and/or analyzing content?

On one hand, promoting a destination with beautiful photos is easy. But you’re also trying to convince your audience to choose your destination over hundreds of other destinations, most of which are trying to be everything for everyone. Creating unique content and providing excellent customer service are two ways to connect with your audience on a more personal level.

“If you don’t have a strategy in place, you can use your website’s navigation (Stay, Play, Eat, Shop, Events, etc.) as larger themes and a starting point for your content calendar. I use spreadsheets as content calendars and have one sheet per network. As you’re sourcing the content, be sure to include fields for assets, like the photo file name and its folder path so it’s easy to grab a photo as you post or schedule the content. Copy and paste evergreen content throughout your calendar on different networks but make small edits so the content is always different and fits your audiences.

Create measurable goals for your social strategy, campaigns, and paid advertising. You can’t be everything to everyone so choose the networks that fit your destination or your personal interests best.”

– Anne Swoboda

“We love Sprout Social!!! All of the tools we need in one place with awesome customer service!!!! Reporting is amazing too.

Also, planning your year in advance is super helpful – then you just fill in with current needs. Big picture content is already planned out for you.”

– Laura Tyunaitis, Marketing Director

“Follow other brands similar to yours. You don’t want to copy them obviously, but I do find inspiration from them. I can also see what may not work and (hopefully) avoid those missteps. While I am not a fan of Facebook’s Creator Studio, I am won over by their newer “Planner”. I especially love the A/B test options for organic posts!

If the rest of your staff is not involved in your content plan, see if this can be changed. Fresh eyes and voices really help with keeping your content exciting and fresh. And it is reassuring to know that everyone is on-board with every message being shared.”

– LaShelle Mikesell, Digital Media and Marketing Coordinator, Visit Muskegon

“I rarely schedule. I like to be in the app natively, I like to post the most current content I can a lot of times, and scheduling is when mistakes happen. When it comes to writing content, try to match the post’s voice and language to how you’d actually share something with someone if it were a face to face interaction. Would you say this to someone in real life? If not, it may read a little too forced or fake.

Finally, always double check the post. Nothing increases engagement like a typo, but man those self-righteous people who think they get awards for finding a misspelling on the Internet are annoying.”

– Jarrod Lyman – Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory

“Because I started off in news, I am still working on how to be better at scheduling everything out more than a few days out in advance. I would say that having that flexibility has allowed me to be more adaptable during the pandemic and not so stuck in my ‘we always do a business post on Mondays’ schedule.”

– Beth Ridgeway – Social Media Specialist – Huntsville / Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau

TwoSix Tips:

Try to stay away from shooting from the hip each day. Developing a monthly content calendar is key to ensuring you’re touching on all the important aspects that drive travel to your destination. To help make content planning easier, assign daily themes for each day of the week. Daily themes can help to guide you in telling a well-rounded destination story. Daily themes should focus on the core destination drivers and experiences that differentiate your destination and the motivating factors that entice consumers to visit. From my experience, daily themes, when integrated into a content planning process, are a game changer in fostering an effective social media marketing strategy.

Here are some fun things we learned about these community managers!

I am a TikTok junkie. This morning I watched a video of a woman doing yoga while wearing an inflatable squid costume. Why? I think the question is WHY NOT? Dance trends, cute puppies, songs that get stuck in your head, and serious laughs – TikTok videos are exactly what we need in the 2020s! I also enjoy cooking and adventuring with my husband, playing fetch and snuggling with my Saint Bernard Marla, and reading.

– Laura Tyunaitis, Marketing Director

On the personal side we are (completely!) rehabbing a 110 year old house while we live in it. This has pretty much consumed our free time for the last 2 years. Outside of working on our home, I love listening to podcasts (luckily I can do that while working on the house!) watching movies, attending concerts, hiking the North Country Trail, kayaking and bicycling our beautiful trails and visiting my children in Chicago and Detroit (great cities to get to visit!).

– LaShelle Mikesell, Digital Media and Marketing Coordinator, Visit Muskegon

I’m really into photography and also in the past year and a half started forging knives and a few other blacksmithing type of items.

– Jarrod Lyman – Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory

I do improv, binge Netflix/Hulu/Disney + shows and be the coolest mom ever to my 4-year-old.

– Beth Ridgeway –  Social Media Specialist  – Huntsville / Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau