Do you remember how you were first introduced to social networking?
I joined MySpace when it first became popular (I think it was 2004). I loved that I could reconnect with friends from high school and college, no matter where they were living. Plus you could change the colors and backgrounds and add graphics and music to your profile. (By the way, have you seen it lately? WOW! It looks different.)
When I first heard about Facebook in 2005 from some long-time friends who were still in college, I was too old and too far out of college to join, so I had to patiently wait until Facebook was opened up to the masses. Even though I did join Facebook about a year after it finally opened to us older/non-collegiate folk, I remained loyal to my trusty MySpace because it was familiar and had lots of options for customization that Facebook didn’t offer. Finally in late 2007, I decided to bite the bullet and join Facebook. In all honesty, it took me quite a while to ditch MySpace and become a full-on Facebooker.
Then in mid 2008, I joined Twitter to see what all the fuss was about… and was immediately hooked. For me, Facebook has always been all about connecting with people already know, but Twitter in entirely different. I loved being able to engage with people I didn’t know without having the concern of allowing them in to my personal life.
At the time I was the electronic marketing manager for a destination marketing organization (or DMO), and it dawned on me after really getting to know these last two platforms that these were tools we really should be using to connect with our audiences of visitors, potential visitors, meeting planners, tour guides, regional/national/international media, etc. So I approached my boss and our CEO and asked them to put their full faith in me and allow me to start using these platforms, with which they were not familiar, to promote our destination. Thankfully, they were rad enough and trusted me enough to let me give it a whirl.
I launched our DMO’s Twitter account in February of 2009 and our Facebook page a day later. While I was familiar with the platforms on a personal level and had been following some of the few destinations that had already jumped on to the platforms, I had NO IDEA what I was doing. And my bosses new that. But they also understood that my love of the destination plus my love of the platforms would probably equal something good. Lucky for me, it did. It was definitely a trial-and-error approach. I tried different types of posts to see what worked. I loved the casual, conversational nature of the interactions I could have via these platforms with our audience. I sought out conversations and questions about our destination on Twitter. We helped visitors on the fly as they were walking through town looking for something and tweeting about it. We shared up-to-the-minute information about activities and events. Rather than simply shoving our message out via the traditional methods and hoping it would stick, we got the chance to really TALK with our audiences about what was important to them at the exact moment that it mattered.
So, I ask you: How were you introduced to social platforms? Which platform did you dip your toe in first? Which platform have you fallen in love with, both personally and professionally?