How a Rural Tourism Town’s Social Media Campaign Went Viral

by Joanne Steele on September 29, 2009


crashersquirrelHow to effectively use social media to market a business or destination is something many small towns are grappling with. Except, that is, Banff Lake Louise Tourism.

A few weeks ago a picture of a squirrel crashing the photo op of a couple visiting Lake Louise appeared on the Internet. The Crasher Squirrel went viral, thanks in part to an amazingly quick response by Banff Lake Louise Tourism.

Milena Regos of Out & About Marketing details the progression from photo to marketing campaign on her blog post, Banff Tourism – Small Squirrel Big Noise. Her post provides small destinations with a blueprint for creating their own authentic social media buzz.

At the end of her post she added information about the resulting benefits of this beautifully executed campaign.

It isn’t easy for a small town business to break into social media. I know that many of my readers are owner run and operated, which means you’re dabbling in social media after you’ve closed up shop at the end of a long day, but it’s worth becoming familiar with. Clearly Banff Lake Louise Tourism was familiar with social media sites and was poised to take advantage of this little photo.

If you’re completely in the dark about social media a good way to start is getting on YouTube. You can take a look without having to create an account. Search through the zillions of videos to see how other people in your business sector are using video for promotion.

When you’re to the point where you are saying to yourself, “I could make something as good as THAT!” you’re ready to join, learn how to upload your videos and add them to your own web site.

Tomorrow I’ll direct you to a place that will help you learn a little more about how to use Twitter.

Once you’re familiar with the workings of some of the most popular social media sites, you can begin to think of ways to integrate them into your marketing using Milena’s 5 steps that are integral to any successful social media campaign. Bookmark her post.

1 Milena Regos September 30, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Thank you for your great post and mention. I would say that doing the marketing for a small ski resort in Lake Tahoe, Diamond Peak I understand the time concern with many small operators. I do have passion for social media because it’s a two way communication. I suggest starting with listening (you can set up a free brand monitoring system in about 3 hours) to see what people are saying about you. Then, plan and strategize what tools to use – obviously a blog, Facebook, twitter, YouTube and Flickr would be popular with tourism destinations. Then, create a plan on how to engage with something fun and creative. You’d be surpised how quickly you can build your community!

2 Joanne Steele October 1, 2009 at 8:49 am

Your point about listening is well taken. The great thing about social media for small rural tourism businesses is that we don’t have to do any expensive focus groups or market testing anymore to learn what our customers are likely to respond to. They are telling us online every day, and all we have to do is set up the free systems like Google Alerts, Twitter and more in order to “hear” them or to engage with them.

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