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Courting Brand Evangelists to Twitter

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25 Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Update: Read the comments to learn how to win a free cruise. I believe this is the first #freecruise contest held exclusively on Twitter.

Case Study: Effective Online PR by Travel Brands

Working at GSD&M, I got to see some of the cool interactive and broadcast work we did for Norwegian Cruise Line. The creative campaign translates well across print, outdoor & direct and the TV spots have been well-received.

Norwegian Cruise Line   Norwegian Cruise Line   Norwegian Cruise Line

In the social space, Carnival has cruised to the front of the Twitter line. They have a brand evangelist, @CruiseSource, tweeting live from a Carnival cruise that is currently underway. His current bio reads “Your Source for Everything related to Cruising. Live from CCL Destiny 10.16.08.”

CruiseSource.us is a blog about cruising, not Carnival persay. My clients in the travel industry tell me that they enjoy perks from cruise lines and destination resorts in exchange for bookings and promotion. Presumably, that arrangement exists for CruiseSource, and it’s a good way for Carnival to dip their toe in the social ocean.

What is notable about this case is how effectively brand evangelists utilize micromedia to generate buzz and online PR for brands. This is also a good example of small businesses being nimble with social strategy and engagement.

Best Practices in Social Media Strategy & Engagement

CruiseSource is using Twitter to establish themselves as experts in their niche. Rather than just constantly link back to their site, an early mistake they seem to have overcome, they relate with their audience in meaningful ways. Examples:

Apparently their efforts have led a major cruise line to invite CruiseSource to participate on a web 2.0 advisory board. If this is Carnival, then kudos for building a smart partnership and generating inexpensive online PR. As long as CruiseSource maintains an air of industry promotion and authentic human interaction, Carnival will benefit from the company’s peer recommendations.

For any travel brand, I suggest a few more tips in establishing a genuine social presence online.

I’m interested to see what travel brands develop on other social platforms, both in external marketing and within the company’s internal organization of staff, partners and sales channels.

Comment Below Tweet me @shannonswenson


20 Comments For This Post

  1. Tyler Banfield

    There are a LOT of companies on Twitter that could benefit from your advice to be more personable. However, I have found several examples of companies that are doing a good job of putting real people on Twitter, including @zappos (their CEO Tony Hsieh), @comcastcares (Frank), @richardatdell (part of Dell’s Digital Nomads campaign), @kodakcb and (Jennifer Cisney, who is the chief blogger for Kodak).

    In addition to their CEO, I also noticed that Zappos seems to have most (if not all) of their employees on Twitter: http://twitter.zappos.com/employee_tweets

  2. Shannon Swenson

    Thanks for additions, Tyler. Yes, those are exactly the examples I had in mind! I see Gary Vaynerchuk just posted similar advice to Britney Spears (@TheRealBritney)

  3. RichTucker


    I am back from my cruise on the CCL Destiny. I was extremely excited to see that you picked up on what I was doing on Twitter and on my blog CruiseSource.us! My goal was to utilize my Carnival vacation to try to pick up as many followers as possible on Twitter who share my passion of Cruising. I only get to cruise a couple of times a year, so I wanted to take full advantage of it.

    On Twitter, you are correct, I want to be seen as the resident Cruise Expert. I have quickly become a Twitter Addict because of the access to experts in the my other interests outside of Cruising like the Stock Market and Social Media.

    Last December, I was on the NCL Pearl and Posted daily from the Ship on my blog: http://tinyurl.com/627cqw . The NCL Posts and pictures were very successful for generating a large number of visitors to the blog thanks to Google Search Results for the NCL Pearl.

    On this trip, utilizing Twitter and the blog together flowed very naturally up until I no longer was able to use my Cell Phone. I think it is much more effective than the blog itself. It was an experiment and I look forward to doing it again on my next Cruise.

    Rich Tucker – http://Twitter.com/cruisesource

  4. Shannon Swenson

    Hi Rich, thanks for chiming in with your experience and aspiration. I want to encourage you on your work applying social media to a real business need. Keep it real and keep us posted.

    And thanks for the pimpage on your blog :)

  5. Marcel van der Laan

    referred to this article by rich after he read an article i wrote about social media implemented by carnival.

    From my perspective carnival is one of the few that is really doing great and getting a return on their investments in social media. Indeed, companies who wish to use social media such as twitter, should participate in the conversation as you described above, same like carnival is doing on twitter.

    article about social media within carnival cruises (their social network, blog, twitter etc.); http://tinyurl.com/5z38te

    best regards, marcel http://twitter.com/marcelvdlaan

  6. Shannon Swenson

    Hi Marcel, thanks for dropping by! I recommend your article as a an example of what Carnival is doing to directly engage its customers. You have good examples in blogging, @carnivalcruise on Twitter as well as campaign metrics.

    Your reference to the Guy Hagen’s case study on Carnival’s social outreach is enlightening too. I am particularly drawn to the discussion about ROI & Carnival’s qual/quan measurements of success prior to launch. Many brands struggle with this, although they were certainly in good hands with Ave A | Razorfish. Carnival seems to embrace social media for brand awareness, as well as positioning itself as fun and approachable.

    I am curious, can anyone share how Carnival uses social media for enterprise communications, if at all? With employees? Vendors? Partners?


  7. RichTucker


    @CruiseSource and @CruiseDeals is expirmenting with a Twitter contest…The first Free Cruise given away to Twitter users. for details checkout http://tr.im/WINACRUISE >>> The Cruise will be given away before the end of the month. We have high expectations for the number of entrants, but anytime you experiment like this with new media there is always the chance for failure.

  8. Shannon Swenson

    Hi Rich,

    Wow! how cool is that? I’ve entered your contest and started a #freecruise hash to help you search for dialog in Twitter. I love the idea. Thank you for making an announcement on my blog and please check in with the results of your experiment!


  9. Dillion

    Commenting usually isnt my thing, but ive spent an hour on the site, so thanks for the info

  10. Chance

    Thanks for the linkedin… Cool blogman.


  11. Bram Londen

    Came here via a search engine. What a great resource is this. Much focus too. Just curious on how Carnival uses social media for communications. You have a new follower in me.

  12. Shannon Swenson

    @Bram, I haven’t followed Carnival closely recently, but I know Rich Tucker, @Octane89 and @cruisesource have done a super job promoting Carnival as influencers and brand evangelists in the cruise industry. Check them out!

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5 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. CruiseSource Highlighted on Web « CruiseSource

    […] CruiseSource Highlighted on Web While utilizing twitter to give followers semi-live updates from our Carnival Destiny Cruise, CruiseSource was picked up by a Social Media Blogger as a Case Study for the Effective use of Social Media in the Travel Industry.   Read the entire Article: http://shannonswenson.com/courting-brand-evangelists-to-twitter/ .  […]

  2. Free Cruise Give-Away, Final Update « CruiseSource

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About Me

I am an executive-level interactive producer specializing in social media, online community management and buzz marketing for national accounts. I provide agency support & client service across multiple industries. I love integrated campaign strategy, working with creative teams, kicking-off projects and driving them through launch.

I am currently working at Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

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Left Brain
SEO, media strategy, web analytics, web application architecture, server architecture, e-commerce platforms, data modeling
  Right Brain
SEM, creative strategy, social media, community management, WOM / buzz marketing, online memes, online brand stewardship

Contact Shannon

Shannon Swenson
Austin, Texas
512-472-3090 x1

hello [at] shannonswenson [dot] com