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Getting Social in the Middle of the Amazon River

Semester at Sea on the Amazon River
Wifi isn’t the first thing that comes to mind out here.

As director of social media for the Institute for Shipboard Education and Semester at Sea, I find myself in a very enviable position in relation to industry colleagues working elsewhere: I have a ready-made, enthusiastic and generous community to work. Engagement through social networks and other means has never been a big problem for us.

Now, would I like to see more? Of course.

Would I like to find new ways to engage our alumni and other supporters? You bet.

So when I had the chance to be on the ship for a few weeks back in January, that’s exactly what I set out to do.

First, a little background
Rarely does anything go up on our Facebook wall unnoticed. Our community is active and well-informed. So if someone has a question, answers are fast and generally accurate.

  • conversations typically average four or five comments
  • Posts from us typically average seven or eight ‚Äúlikes‚Äù and three or four comments
  • Questions or comments about the ship inspire the most discussion

How we posted in real-time from the ship
We have an amazing communications team on board the ship for every voyage that consists of a communications coordinator, photographer and videographer. The content that they create is what fills our voyage blog with amazing videos and slideshows, as well as stories about the shipboard community. But all of this content usually hits the blog about a week or so after the actual experience.

My goal during my time on the ship was to try and add some real-time interaction and then see if it could be incorporated into the regular workflow.

While we were at sea, I gave people a choice of certain areas of the ship they could see. I then took a picture of whichever choice got the most votes and posted it on Facebook. While we were sailing 900 miles up the Amazon River to Manaus, Brazil, I started posting images of the bugs that landed on deck or what we were seeing on the banks as the ship slowly made its way upstream.

The results
Engagement went through the roof. People loved being able to see what we were seeing when we were seeing it. Parents thanked us for letting them simultaneously –even if vicariously – experience the same things their children were experiencing. Likes and comments soared:

  • In all, I posted 14 pictures
  • 397 total likes for an average of 28 per post ‚Äì or 4X our average
  • 146 total comments for an average of 10 per post ‚Äì or 2X our average

In the end, the time that the communications team spends working on their own projects makes it difficult – but not impossible – for this to happen. What we’ve decided to do is set up a separate place to feature the great images from around the ship that don’t get used in slideshows in a bigger format. They can be found on our new Semester at Sea Tumblr site.

But you can rest assured that any time I’m on the ship, I’ll be live-posting anything and everything I can.

  • Culture
  • Education
  • Life on Land

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