Where can I find parking? Where’s the best BBQ? How late does public transportation run?
Cleveland’s tourism bureau set up a storefront headquarters where volunteers sit in front of computer screens, monitoring keyword and geotagged searches like the ones above. The idea is to slide into visitor’s mentions, engage them, and point them towards a good pulled-pork sandwich.
The initiative is called #AskCLE, and so far, that’s mostly been how it has been used. Still, these kinds of hashtags have a habit of going pear shaped. Previous attempts at outreach like #MyNYPD and #AskJPMorgan turned into public relations nightmares for those organizations.
Corinne Allie, senior interactive media manager with the tourism bureau, tells Inverse that they haven’t been getting too many trolls. “Not as bad as you’d think,” she said, knocking on the desk for effect. “We just don’t respond.”
Some Twitter users are having fun with the hashtag though. “What happens if a sociopath gets hold of the nuclear launch codes?” tweeted @chrispilgrim77.
“When are we going to get to see Trump’s tax returns & medical records?” asked @StopTrumpPAC.
That might be an understandable form of social media protest, but the program itself isn’t aligned with the RNC, and probably isn’t going to answer any Trump trolling.
“We knew social media was going to be very important for this convention,” says Allie. The initial plans for the headquarters were floated a year and a half ago, and started researching what it might look like. Other cities have had similar set ups: “Kansas City had done one for the All-Star game, Tampa did one for the convention four years ago,” she said.
“You see them pop up at South By Southwest,” added Madison Bender, social media team manager at Thunder Tech, an agency that partners with the tourism bureau.
Social media posts here fall primarily along two lines – delegates here for the convention, and activists here to protest. “We’re not necessarily monitoring any political conversation,” said Allie. “It’s coming through, and we’re keeping an eye on it to get a pulse of the city, but what you’re going to find is all visitor related.”
On Monday, they helped out a confused and lost visitor by Tweeting a Google map screenshot at them clearly identifying the route the person needed to take.
Law enforcement is certainly monitoring social media for what they consider dangerous or provocative speech. There are several firms that provide that service to cops — including Geofeedia.
So rest assured that someone is reading your political Twitter, but you probably don’t have to worry about the tourism bureau.