Crowdsource Battle for Social Media Tourism Symposium [Case Study]

What happens when Social Media meets Crowdsourcing meets Tourism meets some Outstanding Worldclass destinations?  

Heads are turned, posts are shared, communities engage and support is rallied! 

That is exactly what is happening around Australia at the moment, as finalist “host cities” from 4 States and 1 Terrority fight it out in a public crowdsourced, social-media fuelled battle to host the first ever Social Media Tourism Symposium (SoMeT) on July 17-18 this year.

In this post we look at what SoMeT is, what is great about this project, and what this example of the innovative use of social media and crowdsourcing means for local tourism, business & social!

Crowdsource Battle for Social Media Tourism Symposium

Why am I so interested?  Because I am speaking at this conference and can’t wait to find out just where, exactly, it will be!  (Update! Wollongong just won the Final and beat out Townsville in an epic battle of the Regional Centres!). But mostly because this is a perfect example of why crowdsourcing is  one of the biggest digital marketing trends gripping the world at the moment.

What is Social Media Tourism Symposium (SoMeT)?

The Social Media Tourism Symposium (SoMeT) …..pronounced So-Me-Tee… is a world-class conference designed to bring tourism marketing professionals together to share ideas, network and discover opportunities in social and digital media for destination marketing.  This premier conference originated in the States with previous conferences being run in places like Loudoun County, Virginia, Tunica, Mississippi and El Paso, Texas.

SoMoT is the brainchild of the creative team at Think! Social Media who have offices in Detroit, Sydney, Amsterdam and Vancouver.

SoMeT is coming to Australia for the 1st Time in July.

The Catch?  Nobody knows where, exactly, it will be held in Australia. Yet.

Crowdsource and Social Media for Social Media Tourism Symposium
Destination Unknown!
The Twist?  Australians are voting on where they want the final “host city” to be.  It is Crowdsourcing and Social Media at their combined best.   After pitching their “City” as a great location for the conference, 7 locations around Australia rallied support on social media to have people vote for their city via promotions on Facebook on Twitter.  The Margaret River, Alice Springs, Melbourne, Woolongong, Townsville, Cairns and Brisbane battled out the first round with over 4000 votes cast in the first round.  Now it gets interesting, as voting and social media sharing is sure to heat up for the final 4 “host” finalists.

The Final Four? 

Margaret River vs Townsville (midnight to midnight AEST)


Brisbane vs Wollongong (voting on Thursday – midnight to midnight AEST).

In an epic battle of the Regional Centres, I am pleased to announce that Wollongong did their city proud an hour ago, and showed how with heart and social media smarts, the smaller centres can beat out the big cities!  

Screen shot 2013-02-26 at 12.34.13 PM
SoMeT is designed by the community. The community decides where #SoMeT13AU will be.
What is Crowdsourcing?

The more formal definition of Crowdsourcing is the power of people collectively solving a solution to a problem by soliciting contributions from a large group of people – be it through obtaining needed services, ideas or information.  When you take that definition and add social media to the mix, it adds rocket fuel!

An article by Richard Spiegel in Social Media Examiner showcases the advantages of using Social Media Crowdsourcing. Richard outlines how Social media has changed the way that businesses engage with customers.  “Fans and followers don’t want to be told, they want to discover”   He suggests that it is no longer a one-way (or even two-way) conversation, but a “multiplayer experience that relies on collective, thoughtful engagement”.

What does this mean?

By using tools at our disposal, brands and businesses can create social media campaigns that can achieve powerful results by harnessing the power of crowdsourcing.

The team at SoMeT have done exactly that.  They have harnessed the power of the people to make a decision – but not without first spreading the word by creating massive buzz and viral sharing on social media.

El Paso won the right to host SoMeT in the States last year.  Who will be the winner of the 1st Australian Symposium?
El Paso won the right to host SoMeT in the States last year (with over 78,000 votes). Who will be the winner of the 1st Australian Symposium? Townsville, Margaret River, Wollongong, or Brisbane.
Social Media Strategist at Think Tank Social, Holly Galbraith is excited about the success of the competition so far.  “It has far exceeded my expectations about how involved and how excited the destinations are to host SoMeT, and just to be part of the process”.

“I think those of us working in Social/Digital Destination Marketing are a small but passionate group in Australia, so it’s great to come together to be a part of something like this”.    Holly is right.  And the fact that the set-up for such an innovative campaign has not resulted in huge costs for the agency, provides hope to many small businesses wishing to get the word out about an event or promotion.  If the message is good, and the tools simple to implement (in this case voting and sharing via a Facebook App) the community will the do the work for you!

6 Reasons why this is a great promotion?

It demonstrates the power of crowdsourcing and social media for:

  1. Engaging Communities
  2. Enabling businesses to Collaborate
  3. Adding Buzz to an Event  (the delegates win by having a host city that is motivated, engaged, and involved)
  4. Removing barriers to entry for smaller brands (or in this case allowing lesser known locations to participate).  
  5. Engaging consumers with brands in an experiential way (not just online or in marketing material – they get to experience!).
  6. Helping Consumers to become Brand Advocates by involving them

Interestingly it is the local destinations that are embracing social media and leading the way with voting.  Townsville, the Margaret River and Wollongong emerged as three out of four frontrunners with just a small percentage of the population of bigger centres like Melbourne and Brisbane.

One of the things I like about this promotion is that by leveraging the power of social media, smaller communities competed with larger ones (and won!) on the same playing field.

The tools are the same – it is just up to each region as to how they use them.   It is the Tourism Operators, Hotels, function centres that have really jumped on board with this on Facebook, posting and engaging regularly.

Think Social Media Executive Director, Rodney Payne, said that the diversity of destinations in the running to host SoMeT is a reflection of the growth and uptake of social media strategy Australia-wide. “Regional destinations are leading the votes with Townsville and Wollongong currently ranking one and two, Brisbane and Margaret River are not far behind.”  And that pattern continued till the end Rodney!  Wollongong blitzed it!  

What does this mean for your business or brand?

Harnessing the power of “the crowd” is easier than you think. You could run a survey to find out what your customers really want. Or run an app based competition where they get to be involved.  Whatever tool (or outcome) you choose, the key is connecting with your crowd via social media.

Want to chat or shout out about it?  Tweet or Facebook using this hashtag:  #SoMeT13AU

Interesting in attending SoMeT?

More information will be released soon, now that an actual host has been announced (Wollongong!).   Go here to find out more when tickets become available.  If you do come along, be sure to come and say hi.  I’ll be there!

By the way, this is not a sponsored post nor is the above link an affiliate link.  My reason for writing about this novel promotion is simply related to the awesomeness of the concept behind it (yes I am a huge fan of experiential marketing and crowdsourcing).  

Over to you. Did you vote?   Are you from Wollongong?  What other great examples have you seen where crowdsourcing works perfectly with social media to create buzz? 

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Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is the founder of Socially Sorted, winner of Best Business Blog in Australia 2014 and a Top 10 Social Media Blog for Social Media Examiner, 2015-2017. She helps brands leverage the power of visual storytelling and content strategy in their business. Her content has been featured in publications such as Forbes and Entrepreneur Online and she is a contributor to Social Media Examiner. Donna speaks about digital and visual content for the marketing and tourism industries internationally.
  • CWietmarschen

    Hi Donna,

    This concept is fantastic. I love it. Wish I could come to Australia for the event. I’m bookmarking this page to come back and read it again and I’ll be checking out where the final host city will be and learning about this new marketing concept.

    • Glad you agree Colleen – they have stirred up a lot of passion in some regional areas of Australia that is for sure. Brisbane and Wollongong are Neck and Neck in Round 2 till midnight tonight! It is held in the States annually too so keep an eye out at

  • Beth

    Great concept and very cool. Australia is a gorgeous place. I hope you have a ton of fun at this event.

    • We will – and looks like it is down to Wollongong and Townsville which is a brilliant example of how smaller regional centres can take it to the big cities and win if they leverage the power of social media! I hope some of their followers from the States and Canada come down – it should be a good mix!

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