If you work in the tourism industry, particularly for destination marketing organization or local conventions bureau, you’re no stranger to the multitude of turning gears necessary to develop a strong marketing and social media strategy.
From content managers and influencers, to the brand managers and board members, the approval process is extremely comprehensive.
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Wading through this process along with the needs for TV, display, print, outdoor and industry communications, the content that makes its way to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram may not even be proper for social.
There’s little doubt the tourism industry does a fantastic job of capturing elements of what makes a destination or experience special; sights, sounds, and people are the strongest motivations to convince travelers to visit.
While these elements may work for traditional advertising, they are increasingly becoming less effective for social.
Truth is, in today’s social-focused world, competition for double taps, likes, favorites and shares is more intense than ever, with distractions not only coming from other brands, but also your audience’s own family and friends.
These targets have most likely opted in to follow a large amount of content, whether it’s cute puppies, wedding photos of their niece, recipes or humor from their favorite online personality.
With all this content fighting for scroll time, users are less likely to engage with an aggressive ad that doesn’t match their constant feed of content, at least not on the first touch point.
Brands must consider how they compete with so much non-branded noise and push their message to the front of the queue.
It's worth noting that Facebook announced a change to its algorithm to ensure users are shown content that they’ll actually enjoy. Family and friends are getting a boost; brands are less likely to drown out important messages.
Now, content “should encourage meaningful interactions between people,” which means your 90-second overproduced brand spot is not going to fly.
Consumers don’t want to see an ad; they want to see an authentic representation of your destination.
Consider these points:
- It’s only natural social media posts reflect the culture, environment and food scene of your area, but what are you actually hoping to achieve with these advertisements?
- The beautiful views, gourmet plates and standard “influencer in front of mural” photos are great, but what is the point?
- We know your main purpose is to drive tourism to your destination, but is your social media team tasked to build revenue?
If you think about it, your social media accounts are actually in the business of entertainment.
A prime example of catering to the environment and audience for an entertaining social media experience was Travel Oregon’s “Love Letters To Oregon” content series, which was developed as a way to encourage Oregonians to share what they love about the state.
The campaign was launched with a simple promoted video prompting fans to write their own “Love Letter To Oregon” in the comments on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The comments were transformed into physical love letters and photographed among beautiful Oregon scenery, eventually posted on Instagram Stories and within an album on Facebook.
There were no sales pitches, no “buy-it-now” promotions or other off-putting calls to action. This campaign was strictly an opportunity for entertaining and encouraging participation from followers and potential visitors.
New tech, old tactics
Another strong example of serving entertaining social media content comes by the way of the Atlanta Conventions and Visitors Bureau. For the successful #IAMATL campaign, traditional storytelling tactics were applied to immersive 360-degree videos.
The #IAMATL campaign tells the story of Atlanta from the perspective of local ambassadors and influencers, showcasing what actually makes the city great: the people of Atlanta. Their stories, experiences and passion for Atlanta can be shared to a wider audience to inspire them to discover Atlanta for themselves.
Audiences don’t want to just be told a story; they want to see and be a part of an experience, especially when it comes to travel.
If you’re not providing strong, entertaining material, people are not going to watch, click or spend money to visit. Did you know 70% of organic Instagram posts are never even seen?
Users don’t want to feel like they’re being forced to pay attention to your sponsored post or ad.
Your ad will show up on the feed after a friend or influencer’s post, so blending in is vital. You must provide an organic, warm message, rather than an obviously branded piece. Travelers are looking for authentic experiences and adventures.
The tourism industry does a fantastic job of capturing elements of what makes a destination or experience special.While these elements may work for traditional advertising, they are increasingly becoming less effective for social.
Charles Cunningham - Sparkloft Media
As a brand, identify what consumers want to see online and how you can weave your message into that. Stay away from the “BOOK NOW” messaging or overly branded content of any kind. User-generated content (UGC) is a much more exciting, and less polished, way to keep followers interested in your content and destination.
You’re not impressing anyone if you fully produce a TV spot and post it on social media; stay away from the full studio lighting, cheesy model shots and out-of-reach mentalities.
As you proceed further down the tunnel with targets, building trust for sponsored content, you can eventually loop in that call to action. The first touch points want to be something people actually want to watch and leaves them wanting to explore.
Remember, you’re not in the advertising business when it comes to destination marketing on social media. You’re in entertainment.
Whether your audience is served ads for a destination, or a photo of a friend’s new-born baby boy, the best, and most authentic content will earn the attention of the user. Brands that develop a meaningful, organic following, won’t need to rely on viral sensations to entertain new visitors.
Originality is more important than ever. Make it a priority to understand what consumers want to see online and how you can weave in your message.