UPDATE: The first round of the Social Media Tourism Symposium competition is over and Missoula is moving on to the Elite Eight with seven other cities.

In the final tally, Missoula took second place, giving the overall win to Huntsville, Alabama, which led the pack throughout the voting.

No. 1 seed Huntsville edged out Missoula by around 700 votes. That might look like a large margin, but considering that the population of Huntsville is around 180,000 whereas Missoula has only around 67,000 people, and it is clear that Huntsville was wiped off the map in per-capita voting. Sadly for Missoula, population size is not factored into the vote count.

Missoula is now set to compete with Grand Rapids, Michigan on Wednesday, March 20 in a head-to-head, 12-hour duel to see who will move on to the final four. The polls will open again at 8 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m. (mountain standard time).


On Wednesday, March 13, Missoula and 12 other cities will compete in a digital contest to host the Social Media Tourism Symposium.

"This is one of the premier social media conferences in the country, and we have actually made it into the first round of the voting contest on Facebook," said Director of Destination Missoula, Barbara Neilan.

To cast your vote for Missoula, you'll have to wait until 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning. If Missoula wins, the city will be one step closer to a large amount of revenue.

"It will have a good economic impact to this city, just from the conference alone," Neilan said. "From the preliminary estimates that we have, it's going to bring in about $350,000 in economic impact to the city in just the four to five days that they're here."

Perhaps more importantly is what the meeting will mean for bringing future travelers to the area.

"The PR value of this is huge," Neilan said. "Last year, they were in El Paso and they had 232 attendees. In the five days they were in El Paso, they generated 6,678 tweets, reaching 962,900 people, for over 10.7 million impressions during the short time they were there."

The contest will only last for 48 hours. Only eight cities will move on to the next round of the competition, in which the cities will compete head-to-head for social media supremacy.

The contest will be determined by the sheer number of votes and is not weighted per-capita. For Missoula to edge-out other cities like Eugene, Oregon and Tampa, Florida it will need every click it can get.

So, as they say in the world of dirty politics, "Vote early, vote often!"

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