Social media and travel are two of my favourite things. Travel is inherently social so it’s no wonder the two work so well together.
I greatly appreciate the travel blogging community, but I don’t feel like it’s where I should spend all my time. It’s wise to learn from your peers, but you must also step outside to see how others are innovating.
That’s why I love the annual Problogger conference run by Darren Rowse (Craig and I are both speaking on panels this year). Darren pulls in thought leaders from a wide variety of industries and niches. I love to hear their ideas and discover how I can apply them to the travel blogging world.
Last week, we attended the Social Media Tourism Symposium in Wollongong, better known as #SoMeT13AU.
SoMe is run by the team at Think! Social Media and the way in which they organize the conference is a lesson in social media brilliance. Cities have to go through a bidding and voting process to win the rights to host it.
Wollongong did an outstanding job in claiming the prize this year.
What I loved about this conference was it’s total focus on the power of social media and travel and how it can be used creatively to raise brand awareness and create communities of die hard fans.
We heard from small and large businesses to see the unique ways they are killing it in social media and travel.
The conference did not have a corporate feel, more of cool young entrepreneur thinkers like Mark Zuckerberg and open and playful like Richard Branson.
It was open, friendly, relaxed, and fun. They had great food and the most comfortable bean bags to sit in – nice Zuckerbergish touch.
On the first evening we had a social night at the Rock Salt Bar. We met some awesome people. These events are so great for building relationships, which we feel is key to success in any field.
(N.B Inflatable beach balls are difficult to kick on windy nights.)
As a result of chatting with so many people, our upcoming one year road trip around Australia is looking more like two years. There are far too many amazing places to discover; I am bouncing out of my skin to get started with it.
Many followers asked if we were going to do a summary of the key learnings from this event. I know a lot of you may not be interested in the travel blogging industry side of things (we’ll be back to purely travel tomorrow) so feel free to stop reading here.
Although, I think there are many nuggets in here you could apply to your journey towards your own goals.
The Social and Digital Revolution: Shaping South Africa Tourism
by William Price (SA Tourism)Photo: Think! Social Media
“If we are going to partner and innovate, then let’s do something cool.”
Yes. This is what we are about. Bloggers and social media influencers have no boundaries with the cool things they can do. I love hearing stories about how DMO’s are harnessing the relationship in creative and powerful ways.
William shared SA tourism’s recent experience working with a group of iAmbassador bloggers to Meet South Africa. It was great to see a few of our travel blogging friends highlighted.
- Shut up and listen to effectively communicate in order to move people.
- Show destination as it is, warts and all. It’s easier to manage than to stand by the perceptions that may be fabricated.
- BOLD and COLLABORATIVE digital work.
- It’s not good enough to keep doing what you’ve always done.
- IF you’re not willing to take small risks and bring people on the journey with you, you will fail.
- We had to change the DNA of our DMO.
- Have a healthy risk profile so you don’t miss opportunities.
- Let the blogger talk to their audience in their words.
- We believe that tourism makes the world a better place
To share is Human: The Human Brochure
Ian Hill and Douglas Nicol
“Back yourself as a destination.”
This was the campaign that aimed to change perceptions of Canberra as a boring destination. It certainly had tremendous results and has put Canberra on our radar for our upcoming trip. It has wineries. Enough said.
The only thing that made me uncomfortable with this campaign is that it generated huge results and an insane amount of content for Canberra Tourism thanks to the involvement of a large number of bloggers and social media influencers.
The ad agency got paid, massive ROI was given for Canberra tourism, and the bloggers? All that publicity and content created by them, they only received compensation in the form of a trip.
This sort of campaign is very different to a traditional press trip and I believe that if DMO’s are using bloggers to create content socially, then they should be receiving compensation for their marketing efforts. We still have a long way to go before this is understood.
- First hand travel recommendations are today’s currency.
- Power of word of mouth and user generated content to promote destinations.
- The digital economy is a really good thing to invest in.
Social Media Security
by Kirra Pendergast eConscious Consulting
“It’s not the social media sites that’s the problem; it’s the people and the content.”
This was the scary presentation. It can be a dangerous world if you don’t protect yourself adequately.
- 55% more traffic coming to websites via blogs.
- Let the copyright worries go. If you are putting it public, you have to let it go. (yes more people are good then bad).
- 10% of all photos ever taken were taken last year.
- If a friend is hacked, change your password and don’t use the same password for all your accounts.
Watch this: (It’s pretty freaky)
Social Media for people who don’t do social media
“Wasted thousands on traditional advertising in my first year of business, now I don’t spend anything”
I didn’t even really have to listen to Sean’s presentation to get how he understood social media. The photos showcased on the screen behind him said it all. I just want to hit like, like, like and then follow him over to see what he does.
Tours of the Margaret River, Western Australia it is.
I think this was such an important presentation to all the small businesses in the room. It was the perfect example of how you can attract international media attention and create a thriving business because of 15 minutes a day sharing stunning photos of what you do on Instagram and Facebook.
- Beautiful photos everyday – no advertising needed.
- Engage with my tribe on Facebook.
- Be consistent and know your right times.
- Align to your brand—no exceptions.
- Have a clear strategy from the start.
- Choose one social media call to action.
- Your website is still your main platform.
- It’s time to connect your Australian message to a global audience. Position Australian Tourism for what it is—the best in the world! (Yep! Hence our upcoming 1-2 year road trip)
How the shift to visual social media is creating emotional connections with consumers
This presentation highlighted the importance of visual.
My eyes were totally focused on Donna’s slides as they were so visually appealing! So much so that I didn’t take many notes. Donna gave great tips on how to use Pinterest to help drive traffic to your site.
Pinterest has had immense growth and is popular for a reason—photos inspire and move us.
Create a presence on Pinterest and pin beautiful, relevant images. With 4 million followers to our bucket list Pinterest account, it is definitely our favourite way of bringing new readers to our blog.
- Do a pin audit to ensure your images are large and pinnable.
- Use Picmonkey to ramp up the graphics and content to your images.
- 80% of pins are re-pins—get in the 20% and upload your own.
- Cultivate relationships with brand advocates.
The Dos and Dos of working with bloggers
We were happy to be on a panel and discuss the art of working with bloggers with friends. I of course have no notes.
- Be creative, bloggers have no boundaries with what they can do.
- Ensure you give bloggers down time.
- Use local bloggers and those in niches outside of travel.
- Craft trips around the blogger’s interests (Like our Discover Tasmania campaign).
- Typical press trips with bloggers is the worst way to utilize the relationship.
- If you want to invite a blogger on a trip, best thing to do is call them. That way you can work out goals and interests.
- Be very clear of expectations and don’t change them mid-way.
- Bloggers must also be very clear of what they want if they approach a DMO—let’s all be professional and respect each others time.
- Bloggers don’t get paid to come on a press trip. It needs to be valuable enough to warrant time away from other income producing activities and family commitments. Think creatively to come up with valuable campaigns and consider paying bloggers for their time. This can come in the form of ambassadorships, sponsorships, and the bloggers creating content you can use. You don’t have to pay them to write on their own sites.
The convergence of social and mobile
Kohen Grogan, Social Media CTRL
“When social media and mobile marry, they’ll create one hell of a baby”
I really enjoyed Kohen’s talk about how mobile and social media are changing the world. It’s so fascinating and nobody really knows what lies in our future as a result of the convergence of these two things.
- Social media is technology applied to support a basic human need: belonging and self-importance.
- Social media is being used on mobile more than anything else.
- 60% of Australians have smartphones (We’re No 2 in the world after Sth Korea).
- Customer service is the new marketing.
- Sell an experience, people want to fee they are cared about.
- Keep ahead of the game, harness social and mobile.
Kohen recommended The Naked Brand as a much watch documentary. Here’s a trailer for it:
Using video and You Tube
- Video is king in tourism destination marketing from an inspiration point of view.
- Engage more in the social side of You Tube.
- Use local community for your videos.
- 2.5 billion videos watched everyday.
- Number of queries related to travel on You Tube has doubled in the last year.
- Create an experience.
by Carl Macarthy
“Real people having real conversations.”
- 2/3 people share their travel dreams/goals.
- Over 50% friend’s pictures inspires others to book.
- Over 70% share content while on holidays.
- Over 50% like pages to a specific destination.
The World’s Biggest Social Media Team
Jesse Desjardins, Tourism AustraliaPhoto: Think! Social Media
“Make your audience the hero, they will pick you up and take you much further in the direction you want to go.”
This was the talk I was most interested in hearing. Jesse and his team at Australia have the biggest travel fan page in the world. They have done an exceptional job of using this form to fuel inspiration for Australia.
Jesse was a really engaging speaker and very wise. I especially love how they turned a simple “Yes. We are alive.” response to the communities’ questions asking if Australia had survived the end of the world, to a clever story that got national press.
So simple and clever and came purely from listening to their community, caring and responding to them.
- Have systems, keep it simple, do it well.
- Create context around content.
- Don’t reduce your work to a bunch of numbers on a spread sheet.
- If you want more resources you’re going to have to build trust and learn to speak their language.
- PR what you do, don’t work in a silo.
- Lead your organization through the unknown.
- Do something that has never been done before.
- Invest in your own assets and abilities.
Ultimate Instameet: Hamilton Island on Instagram
Sophie Baker, Hamilton Tourism
“Be prepared to take risks and back yourself.”
I enjoyed hearing about the creative campaign of an Instameet held on Hamilton Island, in the Whitsundays. It certainly is the perfect place for it.
The concept was created by Sophie Bakker, resulted in amazing ROI and is now an annual event.
I am interested to know if the social media influencers were paid for their time to generate the content and publicity? I find it difficult to believe that celebrities would join without payment. If that is the case, how can the justification be that bloggers should not be paid, when they are effectively doing the same thing.
(Note: they all could have been paid, I really don’t know. I’m skeptical and cynical because this is the sort of thing happens all the time and it is a huge double standard.)
Awesome video: Pilgramers
Gaining Traction, Driving Action: Steal Bansky Art Series Hotel
“Be brave, take risks”
There was so much about these campaigns that could have gone wrong, but the risk paid off. They were genius.
The Hotel gave permission for their guests to steal an $18,000 piece of art off their walls. If they succeeded they got to keep it. All they had to do was stay a night at the hotel and do their best. Unexpectedly, it was stolen on the 4th day. They rushed to bring in another painting to complete the month long game.
The response and press coverage from this game was massive.
The second campaign was called the Longest Check Out ever. You could check in one night and then continue to stay if there was no one checking in after you. Many guests stayed multiple nights or even weeks. Very clever.
Watch: Steal Bansky:
Organisation wide adoption of Social Media with Tourisme Montreal
Emmanuelle shared some awesome campaigns Tourisme Montreal are implementing. They are embracing social media as a marketing tool and making it work.
- Tourism Montreal aims to spend all their marketing budget on digital by 2014.
- Our job is not to create content anymore but to amplify it.
Watch: Montreal Moments
Bringing it all Together
William Bakker, Think! Social Media
What a smart and fascinating speaker. William is the Chief strategist at Think! Social Media, obviously he gets how to create campaigns that work, including those that involve bloggers.
- Should the “M” in DMO stand for management instead of marketing.
- Focus on those who love you, they’ll market to the “meh” people.
- Ignore the haters, they’ll complain less.
- Get people talking and they’ll do the marketing for you.
- What remarkable experiences do I have? What niche markets are interested in it?
- Passions sit in the middle of everything. Around that are influencers and around that is community.
Adapt or Die
Craig Wilson – Founder of Sticky
“Your website is the hub and heart of your business.”
I love a presentation titled this—it’s one of my life mottoes.
Travel has taught me how to be comfortable with adapting – it’s like honey nectar once you learn to embrace it. I’m still amazed by people who don’t believe in social media. The train is leaving the station. Either get on it now or say goodbye to thriving.
- You need to own your content, don’t give it all to social media.
- Set your information free.
- Make sure your content is getting found on search.
- Don’t forget the call to action.
- Become an inbound marketer.
A lot to take in right?
We walked away with a fresh perspective and ready to implement what we have learned. We also made some cool new friends. Thanks so much for Think! Social Media for having us.
Can you add any nuggets as to how to make social media effectively work in travel?
Can you add any nuggets as to how to make social media effectively work in travel?