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Alabama Tourism Industry Members Learn About Social Media, Prepare For SoMeT13

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Social media was among the topics on the agenda today at the Alabama Governor’s Conference for Tourism.

Attendees got some unique advice on building tourism momentum through the use of social media, and you may play more of a role in that strategy than you realize.

After all, if you think social media is only the domain of teenagers and the like, then you haven’t met many marketers.

At the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, marketing professionals heard from the experts about how to turn smartphones and iPads into megaphones.

Think! Social Media Strategist Dave Serino says,”It’s really developing into this customer-relationship management tool.  If you see the airlines, the hotel industry, they’re always out there listening, and they’re always out there reacting.  And they’re finding key influencers who have a lot of reach on Twitter, and they’re also influencing those people.”

But here’s a little industry secret, posts from these folks can only do so much.  They count on posts from you to spread the word about Alabama’s tourist destinations.

Serino notes, “People are using it now to make decisions.  After they reach a destination, they use it to tell other people about their experience.  They’re sharing that information and almost becoming advocates or evangelists for each location they visit.”

The room hears of a new duty to take – as social media curators – gathering content from vacationers and tourists and spreading it as far and wide as possible.

It’s low risk, high reward.

Serino explains, “It’s a low barrier to entry, and there’s not a lot of expenses related to it, but a good strategic approach could pay off big dividends for a destination.”

And Alabama hopes these lessons pay the same dividends.

But Serino also spoke to WHNT News 19 about the Social Media and Tourism Symposium.

You may remember the major push for Facebook votes to bring the conference here earlier this year.

Serino says, “The event will bring in about 300 people, and we’ll probably have 500 plus room nights.  It makes a nice little economic impact.  It’s a really tangible measurement for everybody to see here in the community.”

But much like this week’s event, the messages shared at the conference will spread far beyond its walls, due to its very nature.

Serino points out, “We have people blogging, tweeting, instagramming through the entire three or four days they’re here, and that’s a lot of content that’s shared with their friends and followers and people throughout the entire world wide web.”

You can see from the gathered crowd today that tourism means a lot to Alabama, and Serino credits the community’s appreciation of that for Huntsville’s success, “I think what made Huntsville’s strategy unique actually is the involvement of the community.  They leveraged everyone they could from the bottom up, and they built a grassroots program and expanded the reach and amplification of the message.”

But those who worked to bring the conference believe it could expand the reach of the city as well.