By Dan Andrews

While “Visit Knoxville” may have been out of the spotlight lately, the old saying “out of sight… out of mind,” does not apply here.  The organization continues to do great work for the Knoxville community.


One specific example is their social media unit run by Erin Donovan. From their Search Engine Optimization to their rapid social media interaction with their followers, this unit continues to be an influential force in the community.  Erin Donovan is the social media guru that keeps Visit Knoxville at the vanguard of the social and digital media revolution.


Visit Knoxville’s interactive and promotional environment focuses on more than just tourism.  The combination of news, weather, political, and community retweets, has made this organization become one of the most followed Twitter profiles in Knox County.


Currently, Ms. Donovan’s is rapidly crowdsourcing the Knoxville community to become force multipliers in an attempt to win a major magazine promotion for Knoxville using the hashtag #besttowns2015 on Instagram.


The contest, pitched by Outside Magazine, is seeking Instagram entries of your favorite town. Simply upload your favorite picture of Knoxville to your Instagram account including Knoxville, Tennessee and the hashtag #BestTowns2015 in each photo’s description. Complete rules can be found here.


Creating a great tourism environment is instrumental for our local economy. One of the most effective tools Visit Knoxville utilizes is the citizens of the community.


I experienced this first hand when I recently took part in the Visit Knoxville “Gotta Know Knoxville” ambassador program. It is an amazing program that gives community members great insight into both the professionalism of “Visit Knoxville” as well as interesting community facts.


As a journalist who is downtown almost every day, I enjoy interacting with the tourists. This program gave me extra tools and knowledge for assisting tourists. The program also gave me insight into just we as a community can create a more robust economic tourism engine with small effort.


The current hashtag program #BestTowns2015 is a perfect example of how citizens can help their community. A simple snap of a picture and a hashtag can result in more exposure and more revenue. Before I took part in this program, I would normally dismiss such a simple gesture. However, now that I have taken part in the program I see how vital it is to our community.