Trying to Attract the Tourists

Unique tourism campaigns are nothing new. Governing magazine recently highlighted several:

As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That’s exactly what South Dakota did with a new tourism approach a few years ago.

After hearing from focus groups across the country that the Dakotas were nothing more than a “barren wasteland,” the state tourism agency came up with a unique campaign angle: At least we’re not Mars, an actual barren wasteland.

The voiceover in a TV ad says: “Mars. The air: not breathable. The surface: cold and barren. … South Dakota. Progressive. Productive. And abundant in oxygen. Why die on Mars when you can live in South Dakota?”

Their efforts may have paid off: The state has had a record number of tourists in the past two years. 

Instagram on the Road

Last year, Minnesota decided to tackle the perception that the state is just a cold, snowy place by bringing its attractions to you. Really.

Explore Minnesota Tourism, the state’s tourism committee, created traveling photo booths featuring two of the state’s main attractions: the First Avenue music club, which was featured in the 1984 Prince movie Purple Rain, and scenes of the Minnesota outdoors.

The state set up the booths in cities across the country, ranging from Denver to Chicago to Kansas City, and modeled them after Instagram to encourage people to share their photos on social media.

The Prince booth came complete with a fog machine, purple lighting and a drum kit, while the other booth featured a canoe and a machine that generated morning mist and bird calls.

Come Get an Operation

San Diego doesn’t need to do much to convince people to visit: It has legendary beaches, a world-famous zoo and plenty of sunshine. Even so, the city is now betting it can convince tourists to get that elective surgery they’ve always wanted in between getting a tan or frolicking on the beach.

In 2017, city leaders launched DestinationCare San Diego, a public-private partnership to get more tourists to think of San Diego as a place to get medical care — and recover afterwards. The city hopes to compete with world-renowned medical destinations like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota or the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

The city does have a strong medical sector. It’s home to the University of California health systems and Rady Children’s Hospital, which is ranked one of the best children’s hospitals in the country.

Mashable Asks Facebook to Face 2012 Mistakes

Mashable takes Facebook to task for some of its mistakes in 2012. Granted, we all made mistakes in 2012 … remember (that embarrassing event) and/or (person I dated)? 

But regarding Facebook, the "hidden inbox" was the really frustrating one. Looked like I’d missed messages from people and they probably think I’m a jerk for not responding, when the fact is I’m a nice guy — and I’ll be the first to tell you that. Mashable relays:

3. Instagram vs. Twitter and the Rising Garden Walls
In a move that has gone largely unexplained, Instagram disabled support for Twitter cards in early December. Instagram links no longer propagate as photos in Twitter streams, and users who’ve married the two in their social media lives are frustrated.

It’s clear Facebook still views Twitter as an existential threat, and perhaps rightfully so. The two networks keep adopting each other’s features (Twitter incorporating media, Facebook becoming a real-time news feed). But killing Instagram’s Twitter integration is a classic "walled garden" move by Facebook, and a sign that if you still want to use Instagram, you’ll have to play by Facebook’s rules.

Who loses in this battle of APIs? Users, according to Mashable’s deputy editor Chris Taylor. I have to agree.

4. Facebook Messaging Gets Weird
We’ve had email since the ’70s. It’s not that hard to implement.

Yet baffling quirks in Facebook’s messaging system came to light in 2012.

The first was a "hidden inbox" that stored messages Facebook deemed unimportant. Users in late 2011 and early 2012 were surprised to find outdated communications from friends and family buried there. While this "Other" inbox was not a new feature, it became black mark on Facebook’s user experience in 2012.

Remember kids: Users, not algorithms, should determine what is and isn’t important.

Another bizarre feature that bubbled up this summer was "Message Seen" notifications — essentially, a read receipt that indicates when users see your messages, chats and group posts. You can no longer hide from unwanted Facebook communications. Your friend will know as soon as you’ve read (and ignored) that request to attend her poetry slam next Thursday.

Oh, and you can’t turn it off (not without some fancy browser extensions, anyway).

If that’s not enough, Facebook just rolled out a dandy new feature that lets strangers send you a message for $1. Get ready for spam, unsolicited pitches and long-lost stalkers.

Zuck Does What Zuck Wants

As most of you know, Facebook acquired Instagram last week for about… (cue Dr. Evil) one BILLION dollars. But an article in the Wall Street Journal illustrates how the board’s input on CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision was virtually nil. Notwithstanding the fact that he holds majority voting rights and can technically do what he wants, it’s still a pretty bad-a** move, in this blogger’s opinion. WSJ reports:

On the morning of Sunday, April 8, Facebook Inc.’s youthful chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, alerted his board of directors that he intended to buy Instagram, the hot photo-sharing service.

It was the first the board heard of what, later that day, would become Facebook’s largest acquisition ever, according to several people familiar with the matter. Mr. Zuckerberg and his counterpart at Instagram, Kevin Systrom, had already been talking over the deal for three days, these people said.

Negotiating mostly on his own, Mr. Zuckerberg had fielded Mr. Systrom’s opening number, $2 billion, and whittled it down over several meetings at Mr. Zuckerberg’s $7 million five-bedroom home in Palo Alto. Later that Sunday, the two 20-somethings would agree on a sale valued at $1 billion.

It was a remarkably speedy three-day path to a deal for Facebook—a young company taking pains to portray itself as blue-chip ahead of its initial public offering of stock in a few weeks that could value it at up to $100 billion. Companies generally prefer to bring in ranks of lawyers and bankers to scrutinize a deal before proceeding, a process that can eat up days or weeks.

Mr. Zuckerberg ditched all that. By the time Facebook’s board was brought in, the deal was all but done. The board, according to one person familiar with the matter, "Was told, not consulted."

Mr. Zuckerberg owns 28% of Facebook’s stock, and controls 57% of its voting rights, giving him the freedom to act independently if he wants. Mr. Systrom, similarly, owns about 45% of his company. That control means investors must accept the fact that the CEOs can move quickly.