Social media diary 21/11/2008 - Sydney

Sydney uses MySpace to attract visitors

This week saw the launch of MySpace MySydney, a community for people who want to move to Sydney on a working visa. The page pitches itself as an online community and 'Ben' is your host (he's the one on the video on the homepage). The site contains information on how to get a visa, travel information, advice on Sydney as a place to live and work and also aims to be a hub for networking with others in the same situation as you.

The site is from the Tourism New South Wales who are hoping to capitalise upon recent changes in the work and holiday visa regulations for US students. It's now easier than it was for those from North America to get these visas and this MySpace site supports a wider marketing and social media push accompanying the change.

So what can we learn from this?

We've covered a lot of travel initiatives recently in the Social Media Diary - from BA's Metrotwin, to Amex's community for travel managers and Air France-KLM's Bluenity. Travel is certainly an area where social networking and online communities are being used more and more to engage people. We see this at FreshNetworks, where the latest community we helped to launch this week is for a big UK travel brand. Travel has a number of great hooks for activities in social media - some people need information and have questions that other users can answer based on their experiences, it's a subject that lends itself well to media and there is the opportunity for connecting people doing similar things in similar places. We're seeing different travel brands trying different things - from setting up their own online communities, to interacting with people on Facebook or MySpace, providing social networking tools or just blogging.

Some of these initiatives are successful and some aren't. What it seems that Sydney hope to achieve with this site is to present a lot of genuinely useful information in a way that is relevant to their target audience. They also hope to leverage some social networking - getting people in similar situations to get together, meet each other, share ideas and thoughts and between them build the usefulness of the site. This is an interesting proposition and I'll be following how it pans out. Whilst I can see the clear benefit of the marketing and informational element of the site, I'll be watching to see how (and in fact if) the social networking side of the proposition develops.

Whilst we often say that it is difficult for a brand to get a real presence in a social network, there is a real power of social networks to help people find others going through the same situation or with similar interests to them. It may be that getting people considering a move to Sydney to meet each other in MySpace might just work. We'll wait and see.

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Matt Rhodes

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