….Make people aware of your destination, spark magical thoughts in their brain of, “Hey, I’d like to go THERE,” convince them to actually visit, spend some money, spend the night and then go home and get their friends and family to visit, too.
We know; it is super-hard to keep the big picture as communications tools change and morph, people squawk about things like Instagram changing rules with Twitter, every day brings new Whack-A-Mole fun about whether anyone sees your Facebook updates and you’re still explaining to a skeptical boss or Board of Directors about Twitter or whether bloggers belong on your press trips.
As your guides and social media personal trainers here at Tourism Currents, let us help you look ahead and prep for the long game, not the quick one-time play.
4 Trends We See For 2013
In keeping with our theme from last month’s Black Friday Open Comments live chat, here are a few of “Our Favorite” trends that we think will play a big part in tourism looking ahead to 2013. Use them as a framework to help tweak your own destination marketing strategy.
1) Pictures, pictures and more pictures – With Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Foodspotting and all the other sites that emphasize social photography, it is clear (#NoFilter) that visual content is what the public wants. Looks like 2013 will be a big year for images across all channels (including video) because they allow our visitors and customers to digest information quickly, emotionally and in a way that is easy to share.
Do not get caught up in the piles of photography apps and tools: if you don’t have time right now to do justice to, say, Pinterest, then do not do it. Focus efforts where your market is most active, and add more imagery there. Better to do one thing well then a mediocre job all over the place.
—->> Your next step: Think through every element of your communications strategy; how can strong visuals be added or strengthened? Need some ideas? Our “Create Once….” two-page productivity download has 9 different ways to use one photo.
2) Integration of social media – No one should still be looking at social media as a stand-alone channel or afterthought. For example, when you consider advertising spend, part of that discussion should cover whether you want to do Facebook advertising. Social media mentions, Likes, shares etc. are now part of search engine ranking algorithms, too. It all matters, so think holistically.
In 2013, social media must be integrated into your marketing mix for two reasons. First, social media can lead your visitors and customers to the “right” travel information just for them based on your real-time social posts. Second, when your data and analytics show you what is the “right” travel information that resonates for certain segments of your market, you can personalize messages and content directly to those segments. Social media is now an integral part of the path leading your visitors to find exactly what they are looking for, and making your destination a perfect fit.
Your markets are integrating social into their own activities in many ways. How about the “second screen” – did you know that more and more people are simultaneously watching TV programs and talking on social media with a smartphone or tablet about what they are seeing on the television? Does your search engine marketing support your TV marketing? Knitting all of the different elements together will get a lot more emphasis in 2013.
—->> Your next step: Always – always – consider digital, social and mobile communications when you strategize about reaching visitors. Do not assume that your market is “too old” for it, either.
3) Storytelling will shine – Storytelling shows personality, and humans with a personality are what our visitors crave. Having that compelling story-telling voice builds strong relationships with your visitors and keeps them coming back for more.
Every destination marketing organization today is an online publisher, content creator and storyteller. Every one. They are all those things whether they are taking advantage of today’s extraordinary platforms and capabilities or not. Would you rather be the windshield, or the bug?
—->> Your next step: Review your marketing approach. How much of it is the usual “Eat. Stay. Play.” that does not tell visitors anything special? Use the multimedia publishing features of your blog, Facebook Page and other channels to show your destination or attraction’s true personality. A website is merely a starting point for your online presence.
4) Your locals, visitors and partners are crowdsourcing content for you right now, and will continue to do so – They are tweeting, Facebooking, taking photos and blogging, but often are never acknowledged, and too rarely do they see the DMO commenting on and sharing their content. Why not build your content with those who love and support you? This plays right into Trend 2: being human.
LISTENING and RESPONDING will create content. Saying “Thank You” creates content. Sharing good stuff = content.
Crowdsourcing content creates engagement….which builds relationships….which makes people want to connect and visit….which is what your marketing strategy should be all about.