<strong>By Chelsea Ruby <\/strong>\r\n\r\n<strong>West Virginia Tourism Commissioner<\/strong>\r\n\r\nWest Virginians - and everyone who loves West Virginia - I have a small but very important favor to ask: This month, take a few minutes to tell the world what it is you love about our state.\r\n\r\nWest Virginia\u2019s birthday is June 20 (birthday number 154, if you\u2019re counting). The West Virginia Division of Tourism is celebrating West Virginia\u2019s birthday with a list of reasons West Virginia is #AlmostHeaven to us. For the two weeks leading up to the birthday, we\u2019ll post every day - on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - a reason the Mountain State is an amazing place to live and travel with the hashtag #AlmostHeaven.\r\n\r\nThe idea is to get out the word about what makes West Virginia special. And while our list will be a nice start, it isn\u2019t going to finish the job. So we need your help.\r\n\r\nStarting Tuesday, get on your favorite social media sites and talk about West Virginia - loudly, proudly, and often. Whatever #AlmostHeaven means to you, share it with everyone you know. Post that great selfie in front of fog-covered mountaintops, or the one with the bass you caught last summer, or the family at a Mountaineer or Herd football game. Post all of them. And don\u2019t stop there. Overwhelm your friends and followers with West Virginia pride for the next two weeks.\r\n\r\nThink of it as a competition. The person with the most and best #AlmostHeaven posts by June 20th is the one who loves West Virginia most of all. And that, dear reader, should be you. Not to mention that we\u2019ll be giving away great West Virginia vacations to our favorite posts each day.\r\n\r\nThis is fun, but it\u2019s also serious business. West Virginia has an image problem. Those of us who love her know how marvelous she is. But much of the world is blinded by ugly stereotypes perpetuated by folks who\u2019ve never set foot within our borders.\r\n\r\nThose stereotypes have held us back for years. They drag down our tourism industry. They hinder us from recruiting new businesses. They deter talented people from moving here. All of this is enormously frustrating to those of us who want our state to prosper.\r\n\r\nToday, though, social media gives all us a way to fight back. In modern America, social media networks are powerful shapers of public perception. In the tourism industry, for example, research shows people now decide where to vacation based on what others are saying on social media. It\u2019s a major factor in travel planning.\r\n\r\nThe upshot: Your #AlmostHeaven posts will do more than just convey your love for your state. They will grow our tourism industry. Most tangibly, they will create jobs for your fellow West Virginians - and maybe even you. If everyone who loves this state spends just a little bit of time during the next couple weeks posting, tweeting, Instagramming, liking, and sharing how great West Virginia is, the message will reach people across the country, even the world, to tell our story in an authentic, personal way. Your social posts will dramatically multiply the impact of our paid advertising.\r\n\r\nSo this year, give wild, wonderful West Virginia a birthday gift she can really use: the gift of grassroots marketing. Flex your social media muscle and let the rest of the world see the West Virginia you know. You can change minds and start breaking down stereotypes just by doing something you already do every day. Use #AlmostHeaven, and visit gotowv.com to see the very best posts and pics from your fellow West Virginians.