Tourism Minister’s “social media” programme needs some attention
Our Minister of Tourism, Richard L. Sealy, was quoted on CBC TV8 News a couple of days ago stating that the Barbados Tourism Authority and his Ministry of Tourism are using Social Media to a greater extent, and how we hired some outside experts to assist our online tourism efforts. Indeed, Minister Sealy went on and on about the wonderful benefits of Facebook, Twitter etc and how effective and cost-effective online social media is. As Minister Sealy said (and I’m going by memory here), “There is no advertisement that can match the recommendation of a friend.”
True. Very true.
Too bad that Minister Sealy (above) doesn’t have time to log into his own Ministry of Tourism website. The gruesome details are at the end of this article, but the short story is that there are no visible links on Minister Sealy’s website to any Barbados tourism website or social media. Really.
The Ministry of Tourism’s website does contain a “Latest News” section though. Here it is in full…
Latest news here
Type text here”
It is also too bad that the Minister doesn’t have time to log into the various Barbados Tourism Authority social media sites once every few months to check up on the, ah, status. I was about to say “progress” of his social media programme, but I think I’ll let the following speak for itself.
How much is Barbados paying for Social Media?
For all the money we’re spending on social media (however much that is, we’re not allowed to know), Barbados tourism has one active Facebook page and a solitary Twitter account that automatically rebroadcasts the Facebook feed. That’s it.
There are some other, rather pathetic stillborn little efforts that we’re not counting, but we’ll get to those in a minute.
Meanwhile, let’s look at our “active” or “main” social media effort on Facebook: “The Barbados Beat”.
“I thought there would be much more activity by the Facebook author(s) who are taking our money. Twenty original words or a cut and paste every two or three days doesn’t make the grade.”
I presume we’re paying someone or a company to author this Facebook site, but I hope we’re not paying much more than a hundred dollars a week or less because here’s what we’re getting…
Every couple of days or even three or four days, the Facebook author links to an item somewhere. If we exclude the steady feeds from JetBlue, American Airlines and one or two holiday groups, there’s not much being posted by our Facebook author that requires writing effort or scanning for new and exciting Barbados items. (And some of the existing posts came from BFP tourism stories but that’s another story for another day!)
True, “The Barbados Beat” Facebook page benefits from the links posted by friends, vacation advertisers and passersby, but I thought there would be much more activity by the author(s) who are taking our money. Twenty original words or a cut and paste once every couple or three days doesn’t make the grade as a serious effort, in my opinion anyway.
Here are the Facebook author’s posts for early September, 2010
September 1, 2010 – Nothing.
September 2, 2010 – one post: “14 year-old Dutch sailor Laura Dekker just completed the first leg of her global journey from Gibraltar to the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa. She will remain there for two months, until hurricane season is over, before attempting an Atlantic crossing to Bridgetown, Barbados! The Beat will keep you updated when she is about to embark for her transatlantic adventure!” with a link to an online story.
September 3, 2010 – one post: “Don’t forget about Barbados when booking your JetBlue “All You Can Jet” pass! JetBlue flies direct from New York’s JFK airport to Bridgetown, Barbados!” with a link to JetBlue.
September 4, 2010 – nothing
September 5, 2010 – nothing
September 6, 2010 – nothing
September 7, 2010 – nothing
September 8, 2010 – one post: “HURRY TO BOOK! JetBlue’s Summer’s End Sale is offering $119* fares one-way to Barbados. Book by midnight tomorrow for travel between September 14 and December 15, 2010! *Taxes, fees and restrictions apply.” with a link to JetBlue.
September 9, 2010 – nothing
September 10, 2010 – nothing
September 11, 2010 – nothing
September 12, 2010 – nothing
September 13, 2010 – one post: “Great surprise performance at the MTV Video Music Awards last night by Bajan Babe Rihanna with Eminem and their current hit “Love the Way You Lie.” Check out the performance below if you missed it!” with a link to a Rihanna video.
September 14, 2010 – one post: “Make sure to stop by the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival booth at this year’s New York Food & Wine Festival in taking place in Manhattan from October 7-10!” with a link to the New York Food & Wine Festival website.
So that’s five posts in two weeks: Two JetBlue adverts, one link about the 14 year old sailor, one Rihanna video link and a link to the NY Food & Wine Festival.
We’re only spare time hacks at Barbados Free Press but we’re able to post one or two articles every day and sometimes more. We’ve never really counted how much we write, but our original content creation is many thousands of words every week.
The Barbados Beat Facebook page has a little over 1,200 “People like this” followers. I don’t know what to think about that when compared to 2 million plus visits a year to Barbados Free Press. Maybe it’s apples and oranges, but the number of Facebook “likes” seems really low to me.
The Twitter feed (which is simply an automated re-posting of Facebook) has just over 1,000 followers. Considering we have maybe half a million people enter or pass through Barbados each year I thought that our national tourism Twitter feed might have more than 1000 followers. The Frugal Traveler blogger has over 70,000 Twitter followers, so, I don’t know. Maybe apples and oranges but I expected that the official Twitter feed for Barbados Tourism would be doing better.
The Twitter feed is “following” over 500 feeds – and I see that a good many of the Tweets appearing on the feed have nothing to do with Barbados. For instance the current “Tweet” on the Barbadostourism Twitter feed is posted by the Amsterdam Tourism portal and takes our readers to a video about “Muziekgebouw” at Amsterdam’s Concert Hall.
“How does a video about Amsterdam’s Concert Hall benefit Barbados tourism? I don’t know, but that’s what is on the Barbados Tourism Twitter site.”
It looks like much of what we’re posting on Facebook and Twitter is simply rebroadcasting other people’s content, and a good deal of that is either automated or quasi-automated – like we’re linking to everything that JetBlue puts up that contains the word “Barbados”.
Once a day the author checks in for five minutes to make sure no one has posted any naughty stuff, and every two or four days the author links to somebody else’s content. The author is posting a dozen or so original words every couple or three days. That’s it.
HOW MUCH money are we spending for this Barbados Beat Facebook site and automatically linked Twitter feed?
Here’s what we found for official Barbados Tourism online social media sites. If we’ve missed something, please let us know…
Official Barbados Tourism Authority online social media sites
Barbados Tourism Authority – Main
Twitter – Can’t locate.
Blog – Can’t locate.
Barbados Tourism Authority – USA
Website (same as BTA HQ) – http://www.visitbarbados.org/
Facebook “The Barbados Beat” – Last updated 4 days ago October 1, 2010 (Shown above in article)
January, 2010 – 8 wall posts by The Barbados Beat
February, 2010 – 6 wall posts by The Barbados Beat
March, 2010 – 12 wall posts by The Barbados Beat
April, 2010 – 16 wall posts by The Barbados Beat
May, 2010 – 13 wall posts by The Barbados Beat
June, 2010 – 14 wall posts by The Barbados Beat
July, 2010 – 14 wall posts by The Barbados Beat
September, 2010 – 11 wall posts by The Barbados Beat
Most tweets are repeats of the Facebook posts.
Barbados Tourism Authority UK
Stillborn: Only two wall posts on July 19, 2010 – nothing before or since.
Twitter – Can’t locate
Blog – Can’t locate
Barbados Tourism Authority (Canada)
Stillborn – dead.
First post on Facebook was May 17, 2010
Last post on Facebook was June 6, 2010
May 2010 – 10 wall posts by Barbados Tourism Authority (Canada)
June 2010 – 2 wall posts by Barbados Tourism Authority (Canada)
Barbados Tourism Deutschland Germany
Facebook “Barbados Tourism Deutschland”
August, 2010 – 6 wall posts by Barbados Tourism Deutschland
September, 2010 – 3 wall posts by Barbados Tourism Deutschland
Twitter: Can’t locate
Blog: Can’t locate
Barbados Ministry of Tourism
Website – http://www.barmot.gov.bb/
FaceBook – Can’t locate
Twitter – Can’t locate
Blog – Can’t locate
The website of the Barbados Ministry of Tourism contains NO LINKS to any other Barbados Tourism websites or social media! No links to the Facebook, Twitter, Visit Barbados.org. Nothing!
Oh… wait. I found a link to visitbarbados.org three pages deep on the Tourism Ministry’s website. I can’t remember how I found it, it is that deep in the website. Nothing on the sidebars or link page. No Facebook, No Twitter link, no links for prospective visitors. Nothing.
The Ministry of Tourism “Links” page displays links to the following…
Caribbean Tourism Organisation
Government Information Service
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
Nope… no link to our country’s main tourism website: VisitBarbados.org
Oh well, I’m sure the link to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is very inspiring to any prospective tourists!
The “Latest news” section contains nothing. Zip. Nil. Well, not “nothing”. It says…
Latest news here
Type text here”
So, Minister Sealy… How much have we spent on Social Media? How much do we spend each month on an ongoing basis?
Hey… We’re just asking!
(Our thanks to BFP reader “Q” who suggested this article.)