Social Media in Travel Programs: Part 2 – Twitter in Travel, growing the base.
In an earlier blog post I wrote of my addiction to Twitter and my thoughts on the service as a professional development tool, however now through our use of MKA’s Irish Studies Program Twitter profile – irishstudies – I have been amazed at how it is serving as a communications and marketing tool.
Prior to departing on our trip I had been “tweeting” information about the program, our work in the States as well as general information and progress leading up to the trip. A widget was added to the programs home page to display the latest posts so that those not familiar with Twitter could get the updates and information easily and without visiting our Twitter profile page or set-up their own Twitter account. The primary goal was to provide a means of communication that could be easily and frequently updated and keep people informed of the happenings and progress of the trip. It has done that and so much more for the program.
Twitter is our voice; it carries our message and content to the world in a way unimaginable to us even last year. We are able to communicate with those following our program and even those that have yet to follow us by thoughtfully and deliberately crafting our post to include key terms and hash tags (#). Each day I am amazed by the number of new followers we have which can only be attributed to our use of Twitter. These have grown to include other Irish Studies programs, individual’s interested in Irish culture, a member of the European Parliament and those curious about our use of social media in travel. It is through the meaningful and authentic use of Twitter that we are able to indirectly market the program and reach a greater audience than we would be able to through simple blog posts and the addition of content to either Flickr or YouTube.
As we have travelled throughout Ireland I have been using my iPhone and a Twitter application to post tweets and pictures, complimenting the galleries we are posting on Flickr. The iPhone has provided us with a consistent means of communicating. While we have been able to secure a USB based broadband modem from Vodafone, access to the data network has been limited in certain areas of the country, particularly when we have been in Northern Ireland.
While our use of Twitter is limited to my postings (due to the availability of Internet access) we will be exploring the possibility of having students post to provide a different perspective and to expand their voice within the program beyond their blog post, pictures and videos they create.