The statistics speak for themselves:
- 92% of consumers say they trust earned media** such as social media, word of mouth, recommendations from friends and family, above all forms of advertising (Nielson)
- 82% of consumers trust a company more if they are involved with social media (Forbes)
- 52% of travelers use social media to plan a trip (Eye for Travel)
** Earned media (or free media) is broadly defined as consumers talking about your brand. It is usually content created by others (that you haven’t paid for) and in many ways is the online equivalent of word of mouth endorsements.
In 2017, the internet and in particular, social media is the first encounter most people will have with your tourism destination or tourism business.
Where once travelers would start down the holiday path by talking with friends and then reading brochures and books; they now have available numerous devices, channels and platforms to research, buy and receive travel messages.
More importantly, the first encounter a potential customer has with your tourism business is not usually intentional, but rather occurs while they are browsing friends’ holiday pics on Facebook/Instagram, day-dreaming on Pinterest or reading travel reviews on TripAdvisor.
Sometimes all it takes is just one good piece of quality tourism content to instantly catapult your business in front of a regional, state, national and even a global stage of millions.
Tourism Australia put it so well – “Today, in a networked, always on, real time world – a holiday in Australia can be broadcast via social media to an intimate few, hundreds, thousands and even very publicly to millions of people around the world.”
…. here’s the kicker – to get your tourism biz in front of the world though, you DO need quality on-brand content.
So if your tourism brand or destination does not have a content strategy that develops and distributes content regularly, you may never actually reach your target customer.
And that is where tourism social media marketing comes unstuck. “What should I post” is still a question regularly asked.
The exciting thing is you don’t need to be a content marketing genius or a social media whiz kid to create great tourism content.
In fact, often you don’t have to even create it all yourself.
Now before we go any further, let’s quickly go back to basics.
What is content?
Content in this instance means anything that you communicate via your online marketing channels.
That includes photos, videos, text, articles, blogs, infographics, podcasts whitepapers, cheat sheets …and anything else you can upload to your website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and any other social media networks.
Content Marketing is a hot topic because it’s what drives social media marketing.
How do you create content?
The way I see it, there’s two sides to the coin when you talk about creating highly shareable tourism content.
On one side, you have content you create (content creation).
On the flip side, you have content others generate (content curation) with a beautiful little sub-set called user generated content.
Stick with me here – it will make more sense and really help you with your content marketing strategy and social media marketing if you get this clear from the outset.
1. Content Creation
First up, let’s talk about content you can generate.
Content creation – as in, you make it up yourself.
For the tourism market, one of the most effective ways to create content is with photos and videos.
And the great news is, you don’t need to be a professional photographer to use imagery well, particularly in social media.
Our smartphones can help us all take some darn great photography.
Just keep in mind that your ordinary is someone’s extraordinary and you’ll quickly see the full potential for your tourism business.
There is no doubt that great visuals on social media engage and sell, but don’t discount the other forms of social media content you could be creating either – a blog or cheat sheet on 5 things to do in your region works wonders and can easily be shared by others.
2. Content Curation
Then there’s content curation – otherwise known as NOT reinventing the wheel!
When you curate, you collect content from other websites or social media networks that’s related to your business or highly relevant to your target market.
Then add your own spin to it!
Whether it’s a blog or article snippet, retweeting or sharing a Facebook post, infographic, podcast, video or anything else you find on your internet travels.
It is a really great way to link in with events happening in your region or support complementary businesses.
3. Consumer Generated Content
This is technically curated content, but it deserves a mention as it’s just so powerful.
Today it’s commonly referred to as User Generated Content or UGC. Put simply – this type of content lets your customers do your marketing for you.
It’s earned media – and did you notice at the beginning of this article that 92% of consumers trust earned media over any other form of advertising!
Yep, UGC is extremely powerful content.
By firstly recognizing consumer contributions and incorporating user generated content into our digital marketing strategy, not only are we getting our customers to do some of the heavy lifting for us, but we are also able to identify, nurture and grow brand advocates.
Just never forget the golden rule – don’t steal! Always give credit where it’s due.
As Tourism Australia point out – “The past 20 years have seen a dramatic shift towards consumer-generated stories. The shift started roughly in 2002 when consumers, not just publishers, could easily create content (think blogs, TripAdvisor reviews, etc). This ushered in a new era of tourism marketing, one that was honest, transparent and increasingly driven by the consumer.”
And because of this, the possibility for dynamic, multi-faceted conversations are endless.
So how can you capitalize on this trend?
Easy, jump on board!
Hashtag campaigns are probably the most obvious way to capture user generated content.
Creating a Content Marketing Strategy
User Generated Content is just one component of a successful content marketing strategy, so don’t ignore your own professionally produced content.
According to comScore, brand engagement rises by 28% when consumers are exposed to both types of content.
It’s all about ensuring the right mix and balance of owned and earned content.
Some great tools we use to create content include:
- Canva and Picmonkey or images
- Snagit for Screenshots
- Infogr.am for infographics
- Shortstack for competitions
- Survey Monkey for surveys
Take a look at our Resources page for more ideas.
Here are a few more tips…
- Focus on providing the kind of content your consumers really need: Making the decision of where to spend a holiday isn’t always an easy one, so becoming a bit of a go-to resource by producing content that talks about where to eat, when to travel, best hidden gems etc. can be extremely helpful. Be creative, inspirational and help your target audience make the right choice.
- Tailor your content for the platform you’re delivering it on: Don’t regurgitate the same content on each social network. Do however repurpose content for the different platforms. Research shows that we use the different social media networks for different things and have a different mindset on each. Use that to your advantage.
- Keep-up with changing consumer behaviours: Understanding who your target customer is and what they need — rather than what you want from them — is key in giving them engaging content.
- Use great imagery: Great visual marketing helps to forge a personal connection between the brand and the customer, so it’s usually smart to humanize it and include people in your images. It’s been reported that candid shots of people looking away from the camera are great engagement tools. Why? Well its makes it easier for the viewer to imagine they are the person in the photo!
- Before posting anything – Ask: Does this post advance our customers knowledge of South America? If no, don’t post!
Now it’s time to get started…
Whatever your social media content marketing strategy, remember to inspire, engage and add value for your community by providing useful insider travel information and a holistic overview of your destination.
Always have a plan, and make sure you track your results to refine your approach.
Until next time…..
I hope you’ve gained some insight into social media content creation. If you want to know more on content marketing and social media marketing – take a read of these three articles.