By Special Correspondent Brian Ward
A good chunk of New Hampshire’s wealth comes from the tourism trade, its second largest industry. Between Sept 2012 and August 2013, 34.23 million travelers came to the state, spending $4.6 billion while they were here. $527 million of those dollars were the direct result of PR efforts by the Division of Travel and Tourism Development (DTTD), resulting in the state and local governments earning $8.97 for every dollar they invested.
To talk about New Hampshire’s tourism trade, you have to bring up Tai Freligh, the state Communications Manager.
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For the past six years, Freligh has been in charge of marketing New Hampshire as a tourist destination at the local, national, and international level. He runs the state’s advertisements, press releases, answers media questions, brings in visiting journalists, and markets New Hampshire to the U.K. and Canada. He is also the man in charge of New Hampshire’s social media; the state’s Facebook, Foursquare, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram accounts are all run by Freligh.
“[Social media is] part of what we do,” Freligh said, “It’s an important part because we are getting to the consumers directly at their homes, on their phones, and on their laptops.”
Freligh says that when it comes to social media he measures success through engagement; how many comments, shares, and likes a post receives. He says that by crafting the perfect question or post on Facebook he can get people engaged and have his followers promote the state for him.
“One that we did was, ‘What can you get in New Hampshire that you can’t where you are?’ and we got hundreds and hundreds of comments,” Freligh said. “That was success, because there was a lot of engagement and it help promote the state. Other people could see the comments being left; ‘oh you got this,’ ‘you got that,’ ‘I want to see that,’ ‘that’s cool.’”
Freligh uses the same criteria for success for all the social media accounts, including Twitter retweets and Pinterest re-pins. Lately he’s been having problems reaching his followers on Facebook. Facebook recently changed its news feed algorithm so posts from pages appear less often in a person’s feed.
“It’s a small percentage of people who follow your page who see your post; it doesn’t appear on surface feeds,” Freligh said. “We used to be able to put up a photo of a lake or beautiful scenery [and] get 200 shares, 200 comments, and 1,000 likes. These days we put a put up a similar image we get maybe two shares, two likes, sometimes no comments.”
Despite the problems with Facebook, Freligh says New Hampshire has been using its social media effectively; retaining the same level of engagement on the state’s Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts. One issue that he did bring up was the difficulty in determining social media’s role in bringing people to the state. The only way Freligh knows if a tourist came to the state due to social media is if they make a comment saying so on a New Hampshire account.
“I think that looking into better use of tools, scheduled programs, content management type of tools would be helpful,” Freligh said. “Having one person doing all the social media; sometime other duties call so you can’t spend as much time as you like on social media.”
Freligh will be resigning as Communications Manager at the end of the month so he can move closer to family in California. ∞