Vermont follows the @Sweden example with citizen Twitter account @ThisisVT
The @Sweden Twitter experiment has given over running of the Swedish tourist board’s Twitter account to a different citizen each week since December 2011. It has been a fascinating experiment to watch and learn from, especially when some of these citizens have not tweeted as necessarily expected. Letting individual citizens represent the whole country is a fascinating way of showing a multitude of opinions and perspectives for locals and tourists alike. Now the US State of Vermont has followed this @Sweden example.
The @ThisisVT Twitter account has been used since late July 2012 to let you ‘Get to know the people and character of our State’.
The model is fairly similar to that in Sweden – every week a different citizen is chosen to Tweet through the official account, they can (broadly speaking) say what they like and are chosen to reflect the diversity of the State. To add another level of participation, those chosen to Tweet on behalf of Vermont first have to be nominated by other members of the public (or indeed by themselves) and are then asked to write a little about themselves and their lives. This is no doubt a way for the Vermont tourist authority to mitigate some of the challenges some Swedish citizens presented.
This kind of Twitter activity is a great way for tourist authorities to draw attention to the region they promote. First through the stories and engagement that individual citizens present every week. If chosen carefully we will be taken on a journey through the region, and the people that live there. We will see a diversity of people and interests, and enjoy the place they call home. There is also the novelty value of the exercise (at least for the first few examples of it) that will attract other attention).
The exercise is also great for the citizens themselves. It provides a way of focusing and using enthusiasm for the place that they live. For taking those people who share great stories, great photos and great experiences on social media and giving what they say a wider audience. If only for a week.
These experiments are really a form of brand ambassador programme. Finding those people who are enthusiastic for the place that they live and letting them represent the brand for a short period – the ultimate brand ambassador. There is no reason this model need be restricted to tourism and regions – perhaps a retail or FMCG brand should consider handing its social media presence over to a different mum each week and see what the impact is.