How local residents can help people visit Prince Rupert

Many times over the past few years I’ve written about social media in this column.

Many times over the past few years I’ve written about social media in this column.

More and more potential visitors are turning to social media for travel information and advice, and the tourism industry has taken note. This year Tourism Prince Rupert has launched a social media strategy to help us use these new tools. For it to be truly effective, we need your help.

To begin with, we’ve streamlined all of our online marketing, making it as simple as possible for visitors to find us. Our website, completely redesigned and just launched last month, is now found at www.VisitPrinceRupert.com. Our Facebook page is “Visit Prince Rupert,” and our Twitter account is @VisitRupert. All of our online accounts use this consistent “Visit Prince Rupert” brand.

On the social media side of things, we have a few well-defined goals. We want to provide up-to-the-minute traveler information. We want to engage our visitors, to hear feedback and troubleshoot issues that visitors might encounter in Prince Rupert. And, to provide more information, we want to drive visitors to our website.

In two areas, the true success of these initiatives lie beyond our control. To begin with, we need to get these Twitter and Facebook accounts publicized with visitors as quickly as possible. They are included in our new <I>Visitor Guide<I> and other marketing materials, but to reach the widest possible audience we need your help. Whether you are in a business that serves visitors, or even if you just encounter visitors on the street, please ask them if they’re on Twitter or Facebook. Tell them that the very latest events, wildlife sightings, and other things of interest are being updated on an ongoing basis. With social media they can join the online conversation to learn more or leave feedback.

The other area where we really need your help is by participating. If you’re in a tourism business, it’s in the best interests of your business to become active – particularly on Facebook and Twitter – and let us know that you’re doing it. It’s not just to promote your business by itself. It allows us to help rebroadcast your information to the larger community audience; and, the more of us are involved, the more Prince Rupert will gain a reputation as a vibrant, happening community. Use your online following to promote the Visit Prince Rupert accounts as a place where visitors can find out what’s happening right now, and by doing so you will once again strengthen the voice of the community as a

whole.

Getting started with social media doesn’t have to be intimidating. Setting up an account is relatively straightforward, and the best way to decide how to present yourself or your company online is to find others with similar products or interests and take guidance from the way they do it. If you’re a tourism business looking for more guidance, we’ve joined with Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest to present a social media workshop on May 10. For more information or to register, please contact them at 250.622.2332.

Once you get started, you will find that there are many online resources to help you improve, and many other networks you can join for mutual benefit. For example, in cruise, check out www.cruisetoprincerupert.com on Facebook, and @cruise2pr on Twitter. The Northern British Columbia Tourism Association maintains the general account @TourismBCNorth on Twitter, but also maintains the more specialized @RVNorthernBC and @FishNorthernBC for current updates meant for those particular groups of visitors.

The resources are there, the networks are easy to join and increasingly effective for marketing – and best of all, the only investment is time.