Monday, January 11, 2010

More to Learn: Social Media Webinar Wednesday

How big of a deal is social media anyway?

During IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 this past November, IAAPA reached capacity during an education session on using these ubiquitous online tools to communicate with customers. So we're reprising the content from the trade show into a webinar Wednesday at 1 p.m. Register now and find out what the buzz is about.

In the meantime, I caught up with one of this week's speakers, Paula Werne of Holiday World, who shares some straight talk on how important these tools are and why operators need to be tuned in.

This webinar is a continuation of a maxed-out session at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009. Why do you think social media is such a hot-button issue right now?
Did you ever see the old movie “The Blob?” That’s what social media is. This ever-growing, oozing, moving glob of scary stuff. Unfortunately, a lot of folks run from it screaming. So when a couple of communicators from smaller parks offer to talk about what chunks they’ve successfully lobbed off of this monstrosity, it catches their attention.
There’s not a social media rulebook or textbook. But we can learn the basics from each other. Sort of like guitar—how many of us actually took guitar lessons? Most of us can play at least a few songs—enough to impress others around the campfire—thanks to our friends teaching us. We want to show how we started our social media programs, step by step, and hopefully reduce the anxiety so many seem to feel.

Why is it so critical for attractions managers to understand and use these networking tools?
This is how people communicate. They’re texting like crazy; they’re on Twitter; they want to be your Facebook fan. They want to hear from you, and if you’re not talking to them, they may move on to another attraction that is actively tweeting, etc. Social media is not a fad; if you’re waiting for it to pass by you may wait yourself right out of those improved attendance numbers your owners want.
Social media is also increasing how members of the news media communicate. Reporters might pick up a story idea from one of your tweets, embed your YouTube video in their article, or you might catch a lead off of a reporter’s Twitter feed. Just be assured that you'll miss out on opportunities if you're not plugged in.

What advice can webinar participants expect to take from this session and apply to their businesses right away?
What I hope everyone carries away is we are not tech geeks. We are communicators. As communicators, we must be determined to learn how to use the tools our audience is using. That doesn’t mean we need a degree in computer engineering. Starting a Twitter account takes about five minutes. A little longer for Facebook. YouTube the same. Fear not the technology, and don’t get all wrapped up in “where will I find the time?” As a communicator, you’ll find time—because it’s fun! And isn’t having fun part of every IAAPA member's brand?

To register or learn more on IAAPA’s e-learning programs, click here.

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