Tourism through Twitter: It sounded like a good idea

How much should the State of Minnesota spend every year promoting tourism? On the one hand, it’s not the role of government to advertise and promote the State Fair or your private fishing resort. On the other hand, every state does it, and attracting people to come to Minnesota does create job opportunities for many towns and regions in the state.

One of our Golden Turkey Award nominees for wasteful spending shows how easy it is to move from legitimate state purpose to just plain silly. In the name of tourism and promoting the state, Explore Minnesota (our Department of Tourism) recently paid $57,000 to celebrity chef (and erstwhile Minnesotan) Andrew Zimmern to tweet twice a month as a “social media influencer.”

Nothing against Zimmern – he is certainly proud of his adopted home state and not shy about promoting Minnesota to his 1.2 million followers on Twitter. But $57,000 for two tweets a month is a lot of money to most Minnesotans and it’s awfully hard to track whether or not we got that much in return for his “influence.”

It didn’t help that Zimmern used the hashtag assigned for this project (#onlyinMN) to also tweet nice things about his favorite Minnesota Democratic politicians.

Did Explore Minnesota want Democrats and Republicans to travel to Minnesota? I bet our resorts and restaurants didn’t ask for party affiliation when they took the reservations.

This is just one small example of wasteful state spending featured in our new Golden Turkey Award competition. Click here to read about the other nominees and help us select the winner.