Latvia recently showcased the power of social media in creating buzz around its country as a tourism destination. This interactive and cost efficent marketing tool provides an excellent example for those making strides in creating the same kind of buzz around sustainable activities. Rick Mans explians how a call to create a Facebook page on a specific topic inspires real results.
While this topic may not be immediately tied to sustainability innovation/activity, we can look at Latvia as a great example of how to organize a call to action through social media.
Recently the Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia & the Latvian Institute (with the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) as a supporting partner) launched a competition to create a Facebook page for Latvia. And there are already quite some participations, however when somebody ask you to do something, first ask what, in this case, Latvia really wants. Since I think they don’t want a Facebook page, they want a sharable experience with Facebook as a distribution platform:
The assignment is to create a unique and engaging Facebook page in English to communicate internationally about Latvia. The page’s target audience is Facebook users who are interested in or could be interested in Latvia. The aim is to help Latvia communicate more effectively with the rest of the world using social media, informing and engaging people across the globe.
You don’t need a page, you need a sharable experienceHow I interpret the request from Latvia is that it is about sharing Latvia and all the things within Latvia with the world and show and tell them what can be done in Latvia. And it is not only about broadcasting, it is about sharing the Latvia experience. Latvia should be(come) an experience, since experiences are worth sharing.
As soon as things are worth sharing, make it easy to share. Since everybody has a mobile phone though roaming costs are manic (understatement…) Latvia might want to focus on free (or very cheap) wifi / 4G networks. Since if I can be really easy connected to Facebook on my phone, it is really easy for me to share what I am doing now in Latvia.
Make it a relevant experienceWhat Latvia needs is not a Facebook page, they need something with which I can easily share my experiences, or to add an additional requirement: something that makes it really easy to share my experiences on Facebook with my friends.
The downside for me regarding Latvia is that I just know one person there and I don’t know anything about Latvia. The classic approach would to provide me with a brochure with a lot of information I am not interested in. What Latvia could do is provide me with a digital brochure which could be installed on my mobile devices and as an app on Facebook.
By authorizing this app to use my Facebook data, it can make the brochure relevant. Plus what might be even better: it could show me the experiences from my friends who already are in Latvia or have visited in the past. Plus it could use my interest graph to filter the brochure for the topics I am interested in.
Frictionless sharingWith Facebook recently announced frictionless sharing Latvia could make sharing easier for everybody. Since everybody wants to remember the highlights of their holiday and if you are a citizen of Latvia you probably want to record your most important things anyways.
Allow people to plan, using the app I mentioned earlier, where they are going to, let their mobile device being their travel guide. And when you reach the place, just make sure people are checked in automatically together with the people who are there. Invite people to take pictures and to record video and share it with their friends.
Go beyond just asking people to share: Latvia could provide every tourist with a photo album based on the information shared on Facebook, it can delivered just the morning before they are leaving or that they can pick it up on the airport: “Your holiday memories, powered by Latvia”. And for citizens this is something that can be done as well: “Your year in Latvia in review, powered by Latvia”.
What about the Facebook pageHowever, what about the Facebook page Latvia requested? The Facebook page is the hub. It is where all the sharing comes together. It shows the things Latvia wants to broadcast, however more important: it shows the Latvia experience by everybody in Latvia. It is connecting the dots and it shows what is worth sharing, not necessarily what the government thinks is the best for you, but what the people in Latvia thinks is best for you or even more relevant: what your friends think is best for you.
By letting other people share the content, it doesn’t mean that Latvia doesn’t need 1 or 2 people who are full time curating this Facebook page. Latvia will need people to do this, you need people who guide others, who structure information, who highlight important things and who filter things, you need people who lead and who are proud on Latvia. Leading by example is key, it not about building a page or building an app, it is about making it worth sharing, about leading by example, about making it relevant for people and by providing people with a strong incentive to share with their friends.
Promoting Latvia? There should be an app for that.