Feature Article - March 2010
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Expand Your Reach

Marketing in a Web 2.0 World

By Stacy St. Clair

It's one thing to be on Facebook and Twitter. It's something altogether different to be doing it right.

Together, the two social networking sites have more than 300 million users who can be reached at no charge with an intelligent, creative marketing plan. But simply registering on the various sites is not enough. You must engage fellow users, promote your agency without being overbearing and be willing to put in the time.

But don't take our word for it. We went out and found three agencies that are doing it right and reaping the rewards. The fact that all three represent State Park agencies—from Arkansas, South Carolina and Virginia— is no surprise. The various state park systems nationwide have carved out a niche in the social networking world, launching inspired plans to help promote their agencies and succeeding well beyond their expectations. They now network with each other, trading tips on how to attract followers and boost the effectiveness of their already well-received messages.

Learning the Territory

Facebook: Named after the books given at the start of the academic year by university officials so students can get to know each other better, Facebook allows recreation managers to create profiles for their agencies and facilities. They can post pictures, videos and calendar events to help build their fan base. Other users can link into the site, declaring themselves "fans" or "friends" of the agency.

Twitter: This free micro-blogging service enables users to send and read messages known as tweets, text-based posts of up to 140 characters. Recreation managers can use it to send out information about events, post links to pictures or convey short messages. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. Recreation managers should leave their accounts open so anyone can see the information.

MySpace: Once the king of social networking, MySpace has fallen behind Facebook in terms of users. The site allows users to post photos, videos and blog entries. While still well-known, recreation managers would be better off going with Facebook to meet marketing needs if they only want to do one.

Digg: Digg doesn't get as much fanfare as some social networking sites, but it's still a very powerful tool. It's a social news Web site that allows users to share content from anywhere on the Internet by submitting links and stories. Voting stories up and down—known respectively as digging and burying—is the site's key function. It's a great place to post positive stories or interesting pieces on recreation opportunities.

BuzzUp: Like Digg, Buzzup is a social media site for the stories generating "buzz" on the Internet. But rather than letting content editors decide what's hot, users submit their own stories to be voted up by others.

Flickr: This wildly popular image and video hosting Web site and online community offers recreation managers an excellent place to post photographs and videos from their various parks and venues. In addition, it's a wonderful opportunity to see pictures and other videos taken by park users.

YouTube: Birthplace of the "viral" video, YouTube allows recreation managers to post commercials, videotaped speeches and other videos about their agency. Videos stored there can easily be placed on other social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

Sonico: With many of the same features of Facebook, this site is extremely popular among Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking populations in the United States. The site would be an excellent marketing tool for recreation managers looking to reach the Hispanic market.

Tumblr: The site hails itself as a user-friendly blogging platform that allows users to post text, images, video, links, quotes and audio to their tumblelogs, which are essentially short-form blogs. Just like Twitter, users can "follow" other users and see posts on their dashboard. Users also can reblog and recommend other blogs on the site.