(In our Tourism Currents course – which is now open to new enrollments! – we call your online fans and supporters “online champions.” Please join us to find out more about using social media tools for connecting with visitors.)

Look beyond the obvious (courtesy Becky Colley at Flickr CC)Spend some time in the online world, and you’ll rapidly discover that those “online influencers” who all the marketing folks are chasing are only a part of the digital communications story.

Even worse, tourism PR and marketing is often fixated only on travel bloggers because they see them as an alternative to something they’re familiar with: print travel writers. They do not appreciate the possibilities offered by niche blogs, or the Long Tail’s impact on travel.

If you look beyond the Hype-o-Meter, there are plenty of people who blog sporadically, if at all, but have a significant online presence in other ways….

  • Photography with Flickr
  • Video on YouTube or Vimeo
  • Podcasting on iTunes or Blog Talk Radio
  • On Facebook
  • On Twitter

There are even people who are active and engaged in old-school forums and bulletin boards, like this forum on geocaching (and geocachers love to travel to new places to look for stuff.)

If you scoop them all up and dump them in one big “blogger” category like some of your less-savvy marketing peers are doing, you won’t have a complete picture of how to find those online champions.

Be smarter than that; have a more complete picture of the online space where you’re trying to compete for attention.