Facebook, Twitter and YouTube users will have the opportunity over the coming months to add a new friend to their network - the Minot Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"Over the last year there's been a movement toward social media (within the CVB business) - it's been the topic of conversation at (CVB) conferences and we knew it would be a great idea for us," said Wendy Howe, executive director of the Minot CVB. "Visitors to Minot range from teenagers and young families that come to the (North Dakota State) Fair to retirees who come to (Norsk) Hstfest ... and all of those individuals use some of the social media tools, so this will give us a chance to get Minot out in a new venue not available before."
As many social media users can attest, maintenance of these sites can become a full-time job in themselves, and with a limited staff, the decision was made to add another position to the CVB devoted to that cause.
Whitney Pandil-Eaton/MDN --
Shown at the Minot Convention and Visitors Bureau office are executive director Wendy Howe, left, and Sarah Strasburg, communications coordinator. Strasburg was recently hired by the CVB to manage its social media marketing efforts.
Sarah Strasburg, a graduate of the University of North Dakota, was hired in May to fulfill the newly created position of Communications Coordinator. She will be in charge of managing social media marketing, which includes creating a Minot tourism presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as well as implementing an interactive blog on the CVB Website and maintaining its content.
"We are really excited about Sarah and the new and exciting opportunity to grow in a different direction," Howe said. "With the growth we've experienced the last few years, the CVB is growing up with new staff and new tools and its nice not to be doing the same thing. The status quo isn't cutting it anymore."
She added that with the popularity of smart phones and advancement in technology, visitors' approach to traveling has changed dramatically in the last decade and the use of these Websites is meant to cater to those changes.
"These Websites won't just be a medium of why Minot is so great. It needs to be an open forum where everyone - (business) members, visitors, residents - is engaged," Strasburg said. "We have the possibility for synergy but at the same time allow the CVB to be the epicenter of what's going on in town."
Although the Minot CVB is jumping on the national CVB bandwagon of social media marketing, the group is also engaging in ideas to separate themselves from other regional CVBs.
The first is a 24-hour informational touchscreen kiosk which the organization will debut to the public in the coming weeks and the other is their own YouTube channel which will feature short videos that highlight area attractions and events.
"(The YouTube videos) will give a better picture of our businesses and community to those outside the area," Howe said, "but we also want to get our own community excited about the events we have because they are our best form of advertising."