Social Media day was pretty exciting, although I think the group got more laughs on the account of my nine mayorships on Foursquare than on anything many of these apps will do for them or their agencies. Anyway, I digress, from that for now.
To walk all of us through the maze of the incredibly dynamic world of social media they brought in heavy-hitter and marketer Joel Warady. He spent the next four hours alternating between lecture and round-table discussions designed to maximize our experience. It really got all of us thinking “outside the box” to use an incredibly overused cliché.
Some of his best stuff included things like: “You don’t own your brand, the consumer does” and so basically “You RENT the brand, and they WILL become offended if you suddenly take it away or change it dramatically.”
Other really interesting information – 81% of online searchers read blogs, although many don’t realize it. (Did you know the Huffington Post was a blog?)53% of them read them daily and 70% of those that read daily, pass that info on to others via emailed link or share technology (think Delicious, Digg, Redditt, etc.) So that got many of us thinking, well should we have our own blogs? I know in Georgia it has been considered and even attempted with certain issues such as Urban Deer Management, but on a larger scale? Well Warady had advice for that question as well.
A blog is NOT something you can just give your PR department and expect it to succeed. It has to be an agency effort. (or division as the case may be) If you overburden yourself you run the risk of becoming just another homepage and then you are irrelevant. Blogs update at least once a week and ideally twice a week. You use guest bloggers and have anywhere from 3 to 5 people writing. This spreads out the work, keeps things transparent, dynamic and also keeps people coming back to see what’s new.Something else to chew on – if you are going to have a blog, put it on your homepage. That way people will continually visit, even if they have seen it a dozen times before. His advice, get rid of static pages that people visit one time. Dynamic pages take a little more effort to maintain, but in the end are worth it when you are driving people into your parks, WMA’s, or stores to purchase licenses.Just remember about the brand. You can’t start and stop. The consumer will become offended if you do great things….and then stop doing them.
Another idea – your homepage does NOT have to look like a state agency site. Utah took this advice and currently have one of the most popular fish and wildlife websites in their state. (scroll over their nifty media icons!! I love the flash capability) What they have done perfectly is given their customer a choice right off the bat that is easy to find, easy to navigate, and nice to look at.
We talked a bit about integrating online and offline marketing too. There are agencies out there that have done this fairly successfully now by using both table tents and mall signs with the wording ” Text W-I-L-D-L-I-F-E to 25678 and get a free park pass” or be entered to win some sort of drawing like a two-night stay somewhere. Pretty cool idea since everyone is carrying around mobile devices and texting.
When Joel wrapped up, he received a huge round of applause – handed out his business cards (which are very cool social media cards!) and reminded us that he is on twitter. (I gave him a nice ACI #FF and he was very gracious in his response.)
Our next speaker Gathan Borden talked to us about one of my favorite subjects, Twitter. He introduced us to Trazzler where you can write about places you have been in 160 words or less and how you can invite your customers to write in about parks, hunting and fishing experiences etc. in your respective states using this application. Very cool. He also showed us a very cool website called Yourls.org where you can create your own link shortner and then track who uses them! That opens up a whole new avenue of marketing data to use to target customers!!He also uses twitter for contests, give-a-ways and advertising campaigns/promotions fairly successfully with his primary job as the spokesman for the Urban Bourbon Trail in Louisville – which I highly recommend if you are ever in Kentucky! You have to be personable on Twitter. Find 3-5 interesting things about your followers and mention those on occasion, do shout outs for special occasions and always include links that are interesting, relevant and even fun (80/20 rule).
A big part of the remaining sessions focused not just on how to cater to a changing audience outside of our various agencies, but how to adapt and work better with the diversity that might be just one office over. Everyone has different strengths and it has become vital to incorporate all of them to ensure that the team remains strong as a whole. Nels Rodefeld, president of ACI and Chief of the Information and Education Division of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation made an excellent point about this when he said that he makes a point to introduce himself to the new people and let them know he is available for questions, that they can refer pone calls to him. He knows that while he may not know the answer, that later on, as that new person learns their job they will more than likely be able to return the favor. That is relationship building at its best and also learning the strengths of your team.
After all the great talks, people were more than ready for the 1920’s themed awards dinner where we got to see some of the best and the brightest work by agencies and organizations from around the country. Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Arkansas and Florida all did exceptionally well. I can’t wait to get started on something for next year. I have so many ideas.
Over all ACI 2010 was an excellent learning experience and I am tremendously proud that I was able to be a part of it, and even prouder that I was elected to become a board member so that Georgia will have representation for the next couple of years in such a prestigious association.
Thanks to all the wonderful agencies and organizations (and especially host Kentucky!!) that make ACI possible!! Can’t wait to get to Cincinnati, Ohio for ACI 2011!!
Special Thanks: Nevada Dept. of Wildlife, Nebraska Game and Parks, The Aldo Leopold Foundation, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Outdoor Alabama, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, MyOutdoorTV, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, Arkansas Game and Fish, Ohio Division of Wildlife, Southwick Associates, HuntFishregs.com, J.F Griffin Publishing, Joel Warady, Gathan Borden, Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Virgina Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, South Carolina DNR, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, US Fish and Wildlife, HuntFishBuddy, Dottie, Danny, Jeff, Bev, Nels, Stephanie, Michael, Steven, Penny, Lindsey, Robin, Amanda, Scott, and Micah for making this such a tremendous experience. (by the way – any and all photos will be posted to my flickr site! so come by and check it out if you don’t see yourself here.)