How Australia’s Biggest Cycling Event is Leveraging Social Media

The 2014 Santos Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from January 19-26. The week-long race brings top professional cycling teams to compete in the capital city of Adelaide, as well as iconic regions of South Australia, and proudly remains the only UCI WorldTour race in the Southern Hemisphere.


Photo credit: Santos Tour Down Under/Graham Watson; Riders pave the way through South Australia in the annual Santos Tour Down Under race

The annual cycling festival is embraced by locals and thousands of interstate and international visitors who gather in South Australia to watch their favorite riders in action. As the first race on the world cycling calendar each year, the Santos Tour Down Under attracts top professionals eager to make their mark.

The six-stage race takes place in several unique regions surrounding the capital city of Adelaide, recently named one of the world’s “Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2014” by Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel” 2014 guide.

The race also features new routes for the cyclists, taking in some of the state’s most stunning landscapes. They will travel nearly 500 miles during the competition, passing through many of the attractions South Australia is known for: lush vineyards, sparkling beaches, charming towns, rolling hills and natural bushland.

Visitors to South Australia can organize their own “tour down under” that incorporates scenic cycling trails located in various wine regions, including the heart of the Barossa—Australia’s most famous wine region—which links the major towns of Tanunda, Nuriootpa and Angaston that offer panoramic views and world-renowned winemakers in between.

The Santos Tour Down under has its dedicated Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages for official updates and, during the event, will be the go-to source for real-time updates:

One quirky bit of activity that the STDU team has done via social media is to track what’s called the #PuppetPeloton – a fun promotional gag that can be seen traveling around Australia in 2013. By sending the STDU social media team picture of Puppet Peloton in action, using the hashtag #puppetpeloton, they can win some prizes. You can see more about this on their respective social media channels already:

Follow the tour this January and let us know what you think!

Lincoln Trailer to Premiere via Google+ Hangout

Lincoln FilmA teaser trailer for the upcoming film, Lincoln, appeared today online, two days before the official trailer will be debuted during a Google+ hangout:

Lincoln is a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office.

In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery.

With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come.

The film’s director, Steven Spielberg, along with actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Robert Todd Lincoln in the movie, will premiere the full-length trailer on Thursday, making this the first movie to have its trailer debut via social media.

Though this teaser is under a minute long, it provides some brief insight to the aura of film, featuring plenty of Civil War footage and an extended look at Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln.

It also contains a powerful voice over from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

If you want to be one of the lucky fans to join the Google hangout, Google is requesting the following:

-Let them know how you can be contacted:
-Upload a short video to your YouTube channel with the #lincolnhangout tag explaining who you are, why you are interested in “Lincoln” and what you would like to ask Spielberg and Gordon-Levitt
-Reshare the G+ event

Google Play will reach out to you if you’ve been selected to join the #lincolnhangout!

How to Increase Website Traffic Using YouTube

Some YouTube stats:

  • It is the second biggest search engine after Google
  • Every minute, there is 48 hours of video uploaded
  • Videos get about 3 billion views a month
  • It is owned by Google, so the content is always indexed by Google

Why use it?

  • It provides traffic:  If potential customers can’t find you, then they can’t do business with you. Videos uploaded to your YouTube account get indexed by Google and, if they are relevant to a specific search query, are served on the results page.
  • Exposure for your business: Videos provide exposure for your business and provide insight to your personality. People like to do business with other people, and this lets them see the faces behind the brands.
  • Not everyone is doing it: Even though there is so much content being uploaded regularly, many businesses are still not taking advantage of this opportunity. Why? Many seem hesitant to go in front of a camera, or they don’t know how to take advantage of the platform.

Why do people go on YouTube?

  • To get entertained: They look for videos that entertain and help them pass their time.
  • To get educated: They go there to look for content on a topic they want to learn about.
  • To socialize: They go there to see what others are doing, and then they share their content, leave comments, and like or dislike videos.

What should you figure out first?

  • Identify who your viewer is: Knowing your audience is critical because it will lead to better content for them. You cannot make a video for everyone; it has to be tailored to your audience.
  • How can you offer value to your viewer: Once you know who your audience is, decide on how you are going to deliver value. For a restaurant, this could mean recording the Chef making a popular dish in the restaurant, so that views can make it at home. The possibilities are endless.

So, how do you leverage this platform to drive traffic to your site?

  1. YouTube keyword tool: Most people know there is a keyword tool for Google search, but what most people don’t know is that there is one for YouTube as well. This tools tells you what search terms are popular specifically on YouTube.
  2. Category tags and description: Once you know what people are searching, this will give you keywords to optimize your own video descriptions and tags. When uploading a video, fill in all the information completely. The description is the text that appears below the video, telling them what the video is about.
  3. Provide a link: Add the URL of your site to the description of your video. Don’t forget to add http:// in front of the address as that will make the link clickable. Always make it easy for a visitor to click.
  4. Keyword in header/title: Always include a main keyword in the header/title of the video and keep it towards the beginning.
  5. Annotations: This option provides the opportunity to include a “call to action” within a video. A great example would be asking a visitor to click on a link or subscribe to your channel.
  6. Closed caption: This option allows users to upload a .txt file of the transcribed video in addition to the video itself. Why transcribe it? Because this text is indexed by Google. If you are looking for an easy way to get videos transcribed, check out (or give it an intern).
  7.  Video response: This is another way of adding authority to a video. If someone responds to a video, it is subsequently given more credibility due to the fact someone took the time to record something and post a response. This is also a great way of driving traffic: add a response to an already-popular video so that it appears below the original video as a response (which provides great visibility).
  8. Embed the video on your site: Take the video from YouTube and embed it on your site. Make sure to add a little explanation about what the video is about. Great cross-promotion.

YouTube will only continue to grow and Google is investing so heavily into it, they also just launched a partner program for original content, a clear indication of the importance of this platform..

This guest post was contributed by Raj Rajan. He writes about revenue management strategies, hotel internet marketing, hotel reputation management, and hotel technology at

Online Meetings Made Easy

In the digital marketing age, many hotel executives are finding themselves needing to be in constant communication with other properties, the eMarketing company that manages their website and/or social media, etc. There are many platforms through which to hold a face-time meeting, but one company that’s stepping up their game is MeetingBurner.

MeetingBurner is a fast, free way to hold online meetings and webinars. They want to build a community of online meeting fanatics who want to change the world by making meeting easier, faster, and more efficient.

meeting burner online meeting software

Some of features (optional) of meeting burner include:

  • Skype integration
  • Full-screen mode
  • Recording meetings
  • Advanced setting adjustments
  • Exporting participant lists
  • Connection infrastructure
  • Text message reminders
  • Improved sharing privacy
  • Meeting temperature analytics (including participation, real-time feedback and analytics data)
Even though they’re still in the beta stages, they’ve been getting great feedback from users who’ve tried it:

If you’re interested in giving it a try, sign up for a free MeetingBurner Beta account to give it a shot and see if it’s for you.

I’ve signed up for my account and am looking forward to some productive online meetings!

A Live Journey Through The World of Cinema

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of catching Cirque du Soleil’s IRIS, a journey through the world of cinema, followed by a Q&A afterward with some of the creative staff and performers.

The Los Angeles theater production presents an imaginary journey through the evolution of cinema – from the foundations of the art form to the bustle of the soundstage – through optical effects and film genres.

IRIS transposes into a language of dance and acrobatics displaying all of cinema’s splendor, inventiveness and, above all, its sense of wonder. It conjures up a place between motion and picture, light and sound, that shifts constantly between reality and make-believe, to explore the limitless possibilities of cinema.

By combining dance, acrobatics, live video, film footage and interactive projections, the show illustrates both the mechanics of cinema and its extraordinary power to deceive the eye.

Needless to say, IRIS defies being visually stunning and thoroughly entertaining. The company does a fantastic job of keeping the audience engaged, whether it be through physical obstacles or intentionally silly humor. The stunts are phenomenal and I can’t imagine the amount of strength, balance, coordination and other physical capacities that go into mastering them.

The artists arrived in Los Angeles in April, and rehearsed on a daily basis, oftentimes from 9am-10pm, for three months through the show’s soft opening in July. It’s been in the planning stages for three years. There are actors as young as 17 in the show’s 12 acts, which include aerial performers, film strips, comedy bits, trampoline sketches, contortionists, etc.

The film strip act was honestly one of my favorites. The timing is impeccable and it evolves from an already-awesome display to a film strip then ties in actual film in the background, interacting with the live performers. There is no way I can attempt to do it justice in words, but it’s a major trip to watch.

Cirque du Soleil Iris

 The show evolved from the cinematic theme and the acrobatic skeleton, then the incorporation of those two things together.

It features over 350 props all created specifically for this production, many of which are animated and remote controlled, and many of which serve actual purposes in the show in addition to their aesthetic value. Nothing is off a shelf — everything was specifically designed. Similarly, over 200 costumes from 1000 sketches were also created.

The music was composed by Danny Elfman, whom noted this project was different from assigning tunes to film since, for a movie, he gets to put music to a finished product, whereas here, it’s never really a finished product; it’s constantly evolving. Live musicians performed music in conjunction with recorded tracks, aligning with each segment.

IRIS was created exclusively for the Kodak Theater and will remain a resident production, Kodak’s only in addition to the Academy Awards. (This means the show will only be performed in this location; it will not travel like other Cirque shows.)

Proudly presented by Sun Life Financial, IRIS was written and directed by French stage and film director, artistic director, dancer and choreographer Philippe Decouflé.

Tickets can be purchased online, or visit IRIS by Cirque du Soleil on Facebook, Cirque du Soleil on Twitter, and #Iris for additional information, clips, tidbits and more.

QR Codes for Upcoming Theater Performances

Segerstrom Center for the Arts showcases a wide variety of the most significant national and international productions of music, dance and theater to the people of Southern California.

Segerstrom Center for the ArtsThe Center presents a broad range of programming each season for audiences of all ages including international ballet and dance, national tours of top Broadway shows, intimate performances of jazz and cabaret, contemporary artists, classical music performed by renowned chamber orchestras and ensembles, family-friendly programming, free performances open to the public from outdoor movie screenings to dancing on the plaza and many other special events.

Social Media for the Arts

They’ve done a phenomenal job of keeping fans up-to-date via social media: Their Facebook page has over 17,000 fans; their Twitter account has over 3,000 followers; their YouTube channel has nearly 300,000 total upload views; their Flickr account has over 90 sets of photos; and their blog boasts regular behind-the-scenes incite to show rehearsals and more.

As a subscriber, I recently received their latest brochure in the mail with information on the upcoming season.

What caught my attention as I first started flipping through was the inclusion of QR Codes throughout. I hadn’t before seen them in this capacity and found it fascinating that a venue of this magnitude would note the value of using QR Codes mobile marketing.

How to Use QR Codes

QR Codes are basically barcodes that people are able to scan very easily from their cellphones. They’re typically square, and take users to a specific website of their choosing.
There are various mobile applications that scan QR Codes, including many free options. As soon as you open the app, it knows if/when it’s looking at a QR Code and begins reading it accordingly.

Sonny Rollins Audra McDonald

The purpose is to simplify the process of visiting a website from a mobile device. Rather than having to open a browser and find the desired website, a user can simply scan the barcode and be directly taken to a relevant page.

Here, for the arts venue, when you click on the corresponding codes, it takes you to a YouTube channel featuring a trailer of the corresponding show or performance.

This is awesome in that fans can learn more about artists they may not know about and/or get a sample of a Broadway show they may be considering. Because it’s a printed brochure, people may not be sitting at their computers while sifting through it, and thus being able to grab their phone (rather than the computer) and swiftly scan the code simplifies the “research” process.

Have you seen any other venues using QR Codes in creative ways?

A Successful Social Media Campaign

Earlier in the year, PopChips ran an extremely successful social media campaign seeking out a “VP of Pop Culture.” With one of the most social-media savvy celebrities, Ashton Kutcher, on board, PopChips was able to not only award a winner, but create huge buzz, visibility and excitement about their brand.

popchips ashton kutcherContest overview:

  • Must “like” Facebook page to enter
  • Ask fans to submit 90 second video showing why they’re the best candidate for “VP of Pop Culture”
  • Encourage them to have their friends vote for their video (via also liking the page)
  • Votes narrow down the top three, then Ashton Kutcher chooses the winner
  • Specific “terms and conditions” page created
  • Create a YouTube page specifically for the brand/this promotion


  • Involve a celebrity – Ashton Kutcher – who will select the winner
  • “Pop culture” is something any/everyone can relate to, so it’s universally applicable to a wide audience
  • “Pop” (culture) is also a play on the name of their product
  • Winner receives an actual job that pays $50,000
  • Endorsement on TV shows (Jimmy Kimmel)
  • Having videos on YouTube also allows for additional online exposure
  • Create silly/fun videos as well


  • YouTube:
    • Channel views:  127,165
    • Total upload views:  783,803
    • Subscribers: 1,193
  • Facebook:
    • Fans:  112,708
    • Contest entrants: 236


Discovery Cube Reaches Audience via Social Media

In addition to hotels and restaurants, there are many other venues making a splash in the social media world. Twitter and Facebook are a great way for “recreational” venues to educate future guests about upcoming exhibits, events and more.

One such venue is Orange County’s Discovery Science Center.

Thanks to Jeff Friend of Social Good Today for this outline of Discovery Science Center and its social media channels:

Discovery Science Center Cube
You have probably seen this huge 108-foot cube off of the 5 freeway at Main Street in Santa Ana, and many of you have probably been there, but you may not know that it’s actually a nonprofit organization. For those of you who have not yet heard of the Discover Science Center (DSC), it is a 59,000-square-foot learning facility (est. 1998) that is dedicated to educating young minds, assisting teachers and increasing public understanding of science, math and technology through interactive exhibits and programs. There are nearly half a million people per year who visit the Discovery Science Center!

Within DSC there are approximately 120 interactive exhibits that encourage visitors to search for answers, think and explore. The center is divided into several themed areas including Perception, Dynamic Earth, Quake Zone, Science of Hockey, Space Exploration, and DinoQuest.

Their big Summer attractions are the The Adventures of Mr. Potato Head (he will lead you on a number of fun and educational adventures, from trips to outer space to jungle safaris and archeological digs), and Water Works: Soak Up The Science (exploring how water gets physical by creating a perfect rainbow, capturing a raindrop and examining snowflakes – one of nature’s most complex structures).

Hockey Exhibit at Discovery  Science Center

The Science of Hockey Exhibit from early 2011

Discovery Science Center is open 10am–5pm Monday – Saturday and 11am–5pm on Sundays. With regular admission at only $12.95 for adults, and $9.95 for youths (ages 3-17), DSC would be a great place to spend a day with the family!

Get Social!

See what fun stuff they’re doing on their social sites:
Facebook (Join the 4,000+ people who “like” them!)
Twitter (Follow and learn fun facts about their exhibits!)
YouTube (Watch nearly 40 videos of fun stuff people do at the Center!)
Flickr (Check out 200+ photos of the different exhibits and events!)

Which exhibit are you most looking forward to at DSC this summer?

Use Your Vocal Talents for Free Hotel Stays

Well, it’s that time of year. We’ve recently crowned another American Idol and fans have shown how passionate they can be cheering on prospective talents and casting their votes accordingly.

For singers who may not have the opportunity to make it onto a hit TV singing competition, there’s a unique new opportunity for travelers.

Joie de Vivre (which means “joy of life”) strives to create innovative hospitality services and products, and has designed numerous one-of-a-kind boutique hotels, restaurants and spas.

Their latest initiative, “Singing for an Upgrade,” transforms the standard hotel check-in process into a musical experience: At several Southern California hotels, guests are encouraged to sing in hopes of receiving an upgrade on their reservation as well as be put up for vote American-Idol style against other “competitors.”

Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach and Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach are among participating Orange County properties, while Hotel Angeleno in Brentwood and Hotel Erwin in Venice are among the Los Angeles ones. Each hotel will offer a variety of songs and singers are allowed to read lyrics as they perform.

There will be a daily prize for the first guest to sing a specific song each day, and performances will also be captured on video then uploaded to YouTube and Facebook. There, people can vote for their favorites and the selected winners will receive a two-night stay. Even if an upgrade has already been redeemed for a specific day, guests will still be eligible to enter the video contest and will have the chance to win the grand prize, which will be awarded in October.

Would you sing for an upgrade?

The State of Social Media

Last week I attended a webinar on The State of Social Media. Hosted by Mike Stelzner of Social Media Examiner and Kipp Bodnar of HubSpot (two fantastic marketing resources, by the way!), the webinar discussed current media trends and statistics.

Here are some of the key points made:

  • 73% of businesses plan to increase their use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogging in 2011
  • There are more than 550 million active Facebook users
  • 3/4 people use social media. 15 minutes of ever hour spent online is spent using social media
  • When asked marketers if social media was important for their business, 90% said yes with 62% said they “strongly agree”, 28% “agree”
  • The longer people have been using social media, the more time they spend on it
  • It takes time to develop relationships that leads to actual business
  • 92% of marketers are using Facebook, Twitter 84%, LinkedIn 71%, blogs 68%, YouTube/video 56% (Twitter and LinkedIn went down from last year, Facebook went up!)
  • 72% of marketers who have been using social media for more than 3 years report it helped them close business
  • Marketing in an asset and social media is an annuity

When they asked a surveyed audience, “What question about marketing with social media do you most want answered?”

Top 3:
1.  How do I measure the effectiveness of social media marketing on my business?
How do I show solid ROI? What measurement tools are available? How much is a fan/follower worth? (Management is demanding “proof” social media is  helping business.)
2. How do I integrate and manage all of my social media activities?
This moved from #9 in 2010 to #2 in 2011. Marketers understand that social can impact all other forms of marketing (you’re seeing commercials, mail, etc., with social components. Can integrate with and enhance traditional marketing.
3.  What are the best ways to sell with social media?
It used to be, “how can I converse with people”, but now, it’s “how can I make money?” Social commerce is emerging — people can buy stuff without leaving Facebook.

Top areas of focus for 2011:
1.       video

  • Marketers investing 40+ hours per week are more focused on video
  • 77% of marketers plan on increasing their YouTube/video marketing
  • Businesses with 1000 or more employees indicated this area is a key growth area, with 82% responding affirmatively

2.       Facebook

  • 92% already there; 75% plan on increasing
  • 80% of B2C plan on increasing FB efforts
  • 83% of large business will also increase FB activities

3.       Blogging

  • 75% of marketers plan on increasing their use of blogs
  • self employed: 79%

Case Study: Virginia is For Lovers

The Virginia Tourism Bureau has taken some unique strides to increase their social viability. As noted on a recent Brand Channel article, “one of advertising’s classic slogans and tourism campaigns, the 42-year-old ‘Virginia is for Lovers,’ is back with its first marketing push in four years.”

In addition to regular social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, they recently launched their own iPhone app, making it the first statewide personalized travel guide that provides users with information and access to thousands of attractions, events, accommodations, restaurants and special offers throughout the entire state of Virginia.

They have a commercial “promoting Virginia as the ideal place for loved ones to completely connect with each other on vacation” which is available on their website as well as their YouTube channel.

The Virginia Tourism PR Twitter account is also doing really well. With over 6,000 followers and regular engagement and interaction, they’re doing a great job connecting with potential consumers.

They’ve gone above and beyond to characterize, in life-sized fashion, the heart behind their tagline — aptly named Trip Heartmann, VP of Vacations. Along with his own Facebook page, photos have been captured of Trip gallivanting around Virginia and elsewhere. He recently visited DC where he hugged it out with fans and even took advantage of public transportation.

By creating this persona, Virginia Tourism is humanizing their brand and reaching consumers in a new way. Of the infinite destinations with an online presence, Virginia caught my attention amidst a sea of sameness, and I got a good laugh catching Trip’s escapades. This definitely helps aid the fun-loving vibe they hope to create around the state and they’ve set a great example of thinking outside of the box (or the  heart).