LATTE chats with HollyG, a tourism marketing consultant working with businesses, destinations and events in the digital marketing space, about the evolving role of social media platforms in the tourism industry.
- A growing number of organisations are seeking ways to capitalise on the power of social media. What is the power of social media?
You’ll rarely hear me use the term “the power of social media” as it’s such a buzz term. Social media is a tool businesses can utilise to communicate and interact. People are spending a significant amount of time on social media channels and social media offers a way to interact with customers, potential customers, your industry, peers and the media. It is a versatile tool allowing you to tell the story of your business and allowing your customers to also tell of their experiences with their audiences and peers. Social media allows your target market to get to know you, like you and trust you.
- Since you’ve been working in the tourism industry, how have you seen the role of social media change?
To start with, [I] have seen more tourism businesses take social media seriously and get more familiar and active with the platforms, and secondly, we are seeing businesses shift from just broadcasting information to interacting.
- You have been quoted as saying that the Australian tourism industry is lagging behind in the social media stakes. In what ways is this true and what can organisations do to get ahead of the curve?
I have been speaking and commenting on tourism and social media since 2011. The tourism industry has come along way since then. Tourism businesses need to understand social media isn’t just something to tack onto the side of their business or get the intern to do – it needs to infiltrate all levels of the business. Managers, owners and CEOs need to understand how social media fits in and supports their overall business objectives and be prepared to continually learn, experiment and try new things.
- With the array of social media platforms in 2016 – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat – which do you think are the most important to a business’ marketing success?
I have a very strong view that businesses should just choose one or a couple of social media platforms and get traction there rather than spreading themselves too thinly across many platforms. Choose the platform where your customers are or the one that fulfils a specific business objective. In Australia 95 per cent of social media users have a Facebook account, that’s a significant statistic. Having said that, if your target market is 20 years old or younger Facebook is likely not the biggest platform for you. If you are managing social channels for an Australian audience everyone should read the annual Sensis Social Media Report which breaks down some of this data (or listen to episode 51 of my podcast on the topic).
- In reference to a business’ fear to enter the social media sphere, you have referred to social media platforms as an “uncontrollable marketing space”. Why should businesses not fear social media?
[Laughs] I don’t remember saying that, but yes, businesses need to let go of thinking they can fully control their brand and understand it’s the experiences people have with your business and the stories others tell about your product or experience that shape your brand. I mean, you can control the brand to a certain degree by offering an outstanding experience.
- How does a business overcome this fear?
If you have a great product targeting the right audience social media is your friend not foe.
- Do you think in this day and age it’s possible for a business to be an “online ghost”?
I personally don’t think it’s a smart idea – I’d question the longevity of your business.
- How important is a company’s digital presence to its success?
With a clear strategy your digital marketing activities should support your business. But a great digital presence isn’t much value if you don’t have a good product to sell or a product people want.
- Where in the world would you most like to travel to and has this choice been influenced by social media marketing?
A couple of places on my list, such as Iceland, and yes this has been largely influenced by Iceland’s fantastic social media marketing. Also Greece, but this has been largely influenced by my sister’s travel tales and experiences.
- LATTE signature question: What’s the best coffee experience you’ve ever had?
I hate to break it to you but I’m a tea or chai sort of girl rather than coffee. You can get a great chai latte at Three Blue Ducks in Bronte, New South Wales.