WIGCOT 2017 Sheds Light on Big Social Data

WIGCOT-2017, Boelter Lincoln, Blog, Travel

The 30th Annual Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism took place last week at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee.  Close to 1,000 attendees converge on a city once a year to learn what’s new in the tourism industry and, of course, catch up with old friends.

This year Andrew McCarthy – yes THAT Andrew McCarthy – shared his stories of travel across the world.  His travel memoir THE LONGEST WAY HOME, became a New York Times Best Seller.  Andrew’s keynote was more inspirational than educational – talking about the spiritual journey he has gone through on his many travels.  Even a walk down 42nd Street in New York City, where he has lived for many years, became an eye-opening experience for a native New Yorker.  His talk was a reminder that when visitors come to destinations in Wisconsin, you never know what journey they may be on.

While his stories of travel were interesting, I couldn’t quite get this image out of my mind.

On Day Two, the entire group was practically scared to death by Dr. Jennifer Golbeck’s insightful take on Big Social Data.  Dr. Golbeck is the director of the Social Intelligence Lab at the University of Maryland.  She is a pioneer in the field of social data analytics, discovering people’s hidden attributes from their online behavior.  One of her papers dives into how a person’s interactions on Twitter can predict their personality.  While this is data that we love as advertisers, it’s a bit scary from a consumer standpoint.  It’s fairly harmless to use this data to determine if a person is in the market for a vacation or a new car, but does it cross a line of privacy if employers are using this type of data to vet potential employees?

If you are starting to feel a little freaked out about this level of data being stored in cyberspace there are ways to delete your historical social media history and interactions in order to fly “under the radar.”  While this seems counterintuitive for someone in marketing, it does seem like an interesting experiment to conduct to see how advertisers find you and if they are able to serve relevant messages.  This practice is also a good way to clean up old accounts you might have opened in the past that were allowed to access your information.  Deseat.me is one tool that can help you clean up your online presence efficiently.

On the positive side of Big Social Data, there are now tools popping up that use this information to help us determine how to interact more effectively with those in our business circle.  Crystal Knows is an intuitive site that analyzes you and your contact list based on social media information and other public data. These profiles are a combination of estimated personality insights intended to provide a “best guess” about a person’s preferred communication style.  While these are best guesses, my personality assessment was pretty spot on.

Dr. Golbeck’s keynote was a reminder that the depth of data at everyone’s fingertips can be used for good or bad.  As marketers, let’s continue to be responsible with the information we can access. The brands you represent will only succeed because of it.

As we see every year, the tourism industry is constantly changing.  How people research and book vacations is in constant evolution. The one thing that does remain constant is that Wisconsin is made up of thousands of tourism professionals who love showing off their great state to the millions of travelers passing through each year.

I hope to see you at next year’s WIGCOT in Appleton!