Thanks very much to marketing expert Simon Salt for some dynamite thoughts in his 3 Myths of Social Media Influence.   The title I’ve given this post pretty much sums up the myths. You should take a sec and click through to read his work….

Simon nails the current “land run” about chasing influential people in social media, and it will get the attention it deserves because if someone like me had written it rather than a marketer, I’d be accused of being “naive” or some such silliness.

I did thoroughly enjoy writing this comment in response:

“Number Three [changes to the mythology that working with influencers is free and so can be counted as earned media] is happening with lightning speed. Many, many of my fellow travel bloggers are well aware of their value to the tourism industry, for example, and a freebie press trip to write a bunch of free coverage for someone else will not cut the mustard much longer, because it does not pay the light bill or put food on the table (emphasis mine.)

Pam Mandel and Gary Arndt, for example, have entered into contractual arrangements with two different tour companies; they’ll be paid to provide content, in addition to having their travel expenses covered (on tour company trips.) I expect to see more and more of this as we go from being seen as “bloggers” (wooo, scary) to being seen as “online publishers” (like that crazy Tina Brown, who went off to launch The Daily Beast and now pwns Newsweek.)

[Note to CVBs, DMOs, Tourist Boards and other tourism organizations: you really ought to be considering this with some of your best local bloggers and online champions.]

To be brutally honest, most mainstream entities wouldn’t give bloggers the time of day when I started [my BootsnAll (now WhyGo) Family Travel blog] in early 2006. Now, we’re the Flavor of the Month because of all the hard work we did to create content and build online networks. Those who want access to what we’ve worked so hard to build can darn well pay to do so.

And yeah, sorry, but the fact is, you’re late. You could have joined me in my sweatpants and T-shirt at 2 am about five years ago, busting tail to figure this stuff out. Your search for shortcuts to get yourself or your company to where I am now is your problem, not mine.

Do the work. Put in the time. Learn the craft and the space. Build the relationships.”

Some tourism folks need to hear such blunt talk.  I tell you as a blogger because as an educator and consultant, I want you to succeed!

Yes, the possibilities for connecting with us are almost endless. On Tourism Currents we advise you to find and connect with those online who know and love your destination. But, from me in my blogger hat, you must understand why many of us may not exactly fall all over ourselves in response to any mass blogger outreach or other quickie stuff.

One at a time. Person to person.  We’re mostly on your side, really, but we have bills to pay.

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