Account Start: 6/9/2008
Background: Lonely Planet Publications is one of the largest travel guidebook publishers in the world.
Lonely Planet has a unique Twitter strategy — The company is using its account as a cross between a content aggregator and a crowdsourcing tool. Rather than just posting promotional items about its travel guidebooks, Lonely Planet asks followers to post their favorite travel tips, resources, and other information.
It’s a simple strategy, designed to foster a sense of community among travel enthusiasts. Most importantly anyone visiting the company’s Twitter page can immediately understand how to participate.
Page Elements – Bio
Lonely Planet’s strategy extends into every element of the company’s Twitter page. The Bio section illustrates a best practice; it concisely explains the intent for the company’s Twitter page.
In 138 characters, Lonely Planet has skillfully outlined its entire Twitter strategy, even giving helpful hints along the way. “Retweeting the best in travel,” gives the overall mission statement for the page. “Very simple,” let’s followers know that they can jump in without feeling confused. Lastly, the numbered step-by-step process lays out exactly how the page functions.
Page Elements – Hashtags and Retweets
Hashtags and retweets form the foundation of Lonely Planet’s Twitter page. Followers tweet their travel tips and info, followed by the #LP Hashtag. This way the company is able to sift through the posts, selecting the best for use on its page. This use of Hashtags serves two important functions – it allows the company to pre-filter content that appears on the page, and it gives followers a sense of recognition and pride when their posts are selected for publication.
Aside from giving recognition to followers, using the retweet method for posts allows followers to talk to one another. Seeing the @ symbols, followers know who has posted interesting information. They can follow up directly, taking their conversations off the Lonely Planet page and communicating one on one. Using this hashtag and retweeting method means that Lonely Planet is the gatekeeper of information, but in a way that encourages community interaction.
Page Elements – Transparency
There are no secrets on the Lonely Planet page. In another illustration of a best practice, the company includes names and photos of editors for the Twitter page.
There is the team (the group that selects the best posts) and then the Spokes Tweeple (experts that can answer any travel-related questions).
This allows followers to interact directly with those responsible for the page. There is no mysterious team of experts vetting followers’ posts; the editors names and Twitter accounts are available for all to see. If you’re post isn’t selected, you can even message one of the team and get their feedback. If you need a travel tip or have questions about Lonely Planet publications, you can message Robert Reid, Lonely Planet’s US Travel Editor and spokesperson for the US, @reidontravel.
Other Page Elements
Lonely Planet uses a striking image for the background of its Twitter profile. It immediately gives a sense of the company ethos and it bound to draw in travel fans. There is very visible mention of the source of the photo, which is taken from flickr. This underscores the community aspect of the account, encouraging fans to check out more photos from the contributor, or submit their own photos.
As all the Lonely Planet posts are retweets, I didn’t analyze the last 100 as suggested by Kathy. Instead, I looked at the posts for a given day (July 9, 2009). In 24 hours, 23 retweets were posted on the page. It’s a large amount of tweets, which well exceeds the Twitter Book’s suggested four posts per day, but it doesn’t seem excessive in terms of the company’s strategy.
Lonely Planet’s well-defined Twitter strategy is illustrated in every element on the company’s page. From the bio to the background photo, everything serves to promote the idea of community and interaction.