Speaking at the first Australian Social Media Tourism Symposium last week confirmed two things for me:
1 That I love travel and social media. Put them Together? Winning.
2 That amazing innovations are happening in the visual social media space – especially in tourism – around the world. Especially in Australia.
It also confirmed to me the importance of attending conferences that are not on your usual hit list. And I am grateful for the speaking opportunity that saw me experience this amazing event that truly was World Class.In the past 12 months I have attended events like Social Media Marketing World and Problogger – the holy grail of Social Media Conferences. But I can now say to you all that SoMeT13Au should be added to that list. I don’t use the term “World Class” lightly.
From the speakers, to the content to the WiFi (oh yes, it worked!), to the Venue, to the Hosting by the amazing city of Wollongong, to the AV and the Organisers (well played Think Social Media, well played) to the kick-ass screen that towered over me on stage (quite obviously borrowed from Times Square)… to the bean bags and entertainment. World Class.
Here are your “Cliffs Notes” guide to my Top 10 Takeaways from the Conference. These are my favourite sessions – I couldn’t fit it all in, but as usual, I have used the Twitter Feed to highlight the tweetable takeaways of the 2 days.
Top 10 Takeaways from #SoMeT13AU
- User Generated Content is the Holy Grail of Marketing. Inspire your community to create and share content about you.
- Treat your website as your homebase. Think about traffic in terms of how you are attracting people to your website, what keeps them there, and what content can they take away to share with the world. How are you optimising your content to be shared by a world that wants to see it? Optimise for mobile and optimise for sharing.
- Listen to consumers. Understand what they are saying and join in the conversation with them. Embrace what they have to say about you and use this in your marketing.
- Peer Reviews and Recommendations are Today’s No 1 “Word of Mouth” Marketing Currency. Encourage word of mouth. Use Trip Advisor. Leverage the power of fans and brand advocates who are itching to share your content for you.
- Visual Social Media, when done right, can cost you nothing and save you thousands of dollars in traditional advertising. Use video. Use images. Curate content from your fans.
- Involve your team at every level of social media – find out the special nuggets of knowledge and skill that exist within your team and include them in your social media strategy and implementation. They are your often your biggest advocates so empower them and trust them.
- Invest time in locating and nuturing relationships with your brand advocates – the people who are your biggest fans, who share your content and tell the world about you. They may or may not be influencers – even people without a platform can have a big impact. Build personal relationships (not just transactional relationships) with these people and watch the magic happen when they do your marketing for you.
- Use images. Post them consistently and curate images from others. Develop relationships with content creators, especially photographers who can share content about your brand. Imagery is processed faster than any other medium and evokes an emotional response faster than any other medium. Use it in your social media marketing to tell your story and create emotional connections with consumers.
- Take risks with social, even small risks, and bring your community along for the journey. Some of the best promotions and campaigns involved going out of the normal “marketing” comfort zone and doing something completely different. Be bold, take a leap of faith and try something different – something that engages your community in an entirely unique way. Take note of Jesse Desjardins from Tourism Australia. Take note of Beckie Mitchell from the Art Series Hotel. Take note of Sophie Baker and the Hamilton Island Instameet. Take note of Emmanuelle Legault and her goal to transition her entire organisation to a social organisation. All of these initiatives take guts. They did something they had never done before and it worked.
- Attend this conference next year. If you are a destination marketer, a tourism operator, or simply a company that wants to get your eyes and ears on some of the best innovations in social media, then this is a fun, interactive, engaging conference that will have you taking back actionable takeaways back to your organisation. It doesn’t matter that the topic was “tourism” – it was the fundamental principles underlying these case studies that are relevant to every social organisation. Think Social Media will need a big venue next year, just sayin’.
DAY 1 – #SoMeT13AU
The Social and Digital Revolution: Shaping South Africa Tourism
— Jan Hutton (@janinehutton) July 16, 2013
William opened the conference with a bang and had us thinking not about what tourism brands are wanting to say, but rather understanding what people are saying already and joining in on those conversations. This applies to all businesses, right? He also talked about how South Africa Tourism has embraced the social and digital tourism and focused on what consumers want and need in the process:
In essence, what brands need to do to really connect with consumers could be captured in these 4 words from William:
and in listening, the social media team at South Africa Tourism has been able to embrace what consumers are saying and sharing:
The above video shows how successful Tourism SA’s #MeetSouthAFrica Campaign was. A brilliant example of leveraging content creators, user generated content and amazing social media reach to put South Africa on the map as a world class travel destination. After watching this video, most of the attendees added South Africa to their travel bucket list.
How We Got Here/How We Won #SOMET13AU
I posted on my blog about the amazing journey of Wollongong to “win” the rights to host #SoMeT13Au. So, I had already been blown away by they way they showcased the power of social and the power of community to pull off a win against some pretty impressive locations around Australia (including Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and Alice Springs). You can read about it here. But I was not prepared for the back story. Rodney Payne and Tabitha Galvin described a social media team and city that pulled out every engagement, word of mouth and social strategy – both online and off. From Facebook sharing to taking to the the streets, Wollongong’s win was a worthy case study for the Symposium:
To Share is Human: The Human Brochure
Ian Hill, Director at Australian Capital Tourism @theianhill Douglas Nicol, Partner at the Works Sydney, @MongrelMarketg
Hands down one of my favourites sessions as Ian Hill and Douglas Nicol told the story of Australian Capital Tourism’s Human Brochure Campaign to promote awareness of and change perceptions of our capital city, Canberra. Australia’s Capital had a reputation for being dull and the Human Brochure Campaign was designed to use the power of social media to convince Australia otherwise. The belief was that first hand travel recommendations would hold more weight than traditional advertising. As stated on the Works website, it was time for a new kind of tourism brochure, time to let Canberra be judged by real people.
Check out the Human Brochure Website to see the result when 500 humans, a #humanbrochure hashtag and social media got together!
Light Sabers, Cats and other Koality Video Content: Queensland on YouTube
— Holly Galbraith (@HollyGalbraith) July 17, 2013
Sarah showcased the massive investment Tourism Queensland has made into Video Content in the past year and the importance of involving your community, businesses, influencers and advocates in the process.
It’s a good thing I live in Queensland because after listening to this presentation I would have moved here. Check out Tourism Queensland’s YouTube Channel here. My favourite is Roo Mail. Just sayin’.
Social Media Security
Kirra Pendergast, Director/Partner at eConscious Consulting @kirrapendergast
This session got down to the nitty gritty of social media risk management and security. Kirra had some practical suggestions about risk management for individuals and companies. Much of it came back to a mix of common sense and authenticity when it comes to reputation management. Here are the Top Tweets:
But it was this video that had everyone in shock. Watch and take note! And as Kirra says, if your account or your friend’s account is hacked, change your passwords. And please people, don’t have the same password for everything. Just don’t.
Social Media For People Who Don’t Do Social Media
Sean’s session was one of the conference favourites. Some simple actions saved his business from disaster and resulted in a thriving, booked-out tour company that requires only 15 minutes per day on Social Media. Here is a summary of the keys to Sean’s success:
1 Great reviews from Trip Advisor. This was an amazing tale of how powerful word of mouth recommendations are.
2 Posting one beautiful image every day to showcase his brand and business (the Margaret River!)
3 Posting consistently. No exception.
4 Treating your Website as your homebase and being clear about what you want people to do on Social Media with a clear call to action.
Sean posts one beautiful photo every day to showcase the Margaret River (did I say that he is pretty good with a camera?).
From Cave Drawings to Instagram – How the Shift to Visual Social Media is Creating Emotional Connections with Consumers
I was completely honoured to be one of the speakers at #SoMeT13AU, talking about the Shift to Visual Social Media and how we can benefit from it. Rather than rehash my presentation, I will let the twitter feed do the talking. These are some of the takeaways highlighted in tweets by the attendees (or you can read more about my presentation in this awesome post by Caroline Makepeace of Y Travel Blog).
Social Business: The Evolution of Social Media
Kate Duffy, Manager, Social Media at Canadian Tourism Commission @kate_duffy
What can I say? I love Canada, so I was always going to love this presentation. But Kate impressed the room with what she and her team have been doing with social at the Canadian Tourism Commission. Here are the key tweetable takeaways:
The Do’s and Do’s of Working with Bloggers (Panel Discussion)
Annabel Candy (Get in the Hot Spot @Annabel Candy), Craig & Caroline Makepeace (Y Travel Blog @yTravelBlog), Kate Duffy (Manager, Canadian Tourism Commission, @kate_duffy), Lauren Bath (Pirie Bath Photography, @laurenepbath)
This was a great session with a mix of top bloggers, a manager of a DMO and a top Instagrammer/Photographer. There were quite a few tweetables:
— Susan Maynard (@SusanMaynard) July 17, 2013
DAY 2 – #SoMeT13AU
Breakouts with Facebook, Trip Advisor and YouTube
Matthew Zatto (Trip Advisor) Destination Marketing Sales Manager Asia Pacific, @Zattinho, Carl McCarthy (Facebook) Account Manager – Financial Services and Travel, Gaurav Bhogale (YouTube) Digital Consultant, Asia Pacific
— William Price (@william_price) July 17, 2013
The big guns didn’t disappoint with some fabulous takeaways on the Twitterfeed:
The World’s Biggest Social Media Team
This session was the one we were all waiting for. Jesse revealed what it takes for a team of 3 to be the “world’s biggest social media team” by harnessing the power of shared content from millions of brand advocates that engage and share content to sell our country to the world. There is a reason why this is the world’s biggest travel destination fan page. Here are some of the key tweets and takeaways:
Ultimate Instameet: Hamilton Island on Instagram
Sophie Baker, Senior Communications Manager at Hamilton Island @SophieHGBaker
We knew we were in for a visual treat when Sophie Baker took to the stage to showcase Hamilton Island’s super-successful Instameet. This video tells the story!
Gaining Traction, Driving Action: Steal Banksy Art Series Hotel
I love innovative promotions. Beckie Mitchell showcased two fun, cheeky, left-field (and super-risky!) campaigns that had us all glued to the screen. Great presentation about the “Steal Banksy” (gamification simplified as a big game of hide and seek!) and “Overstay” Promotions. You really have to see the videos to get the full picture, so here they are:
Organisation Wide Adoption of Social Media – Tourisme Montreal
Tourisme Montreal is taking risks that are paying off. Emmanuelle showed us how they have moved their organisation to be completely digital by 2009 and will be a completely “social” organisation by 2014. She showcased some of their recent campaigns and how they are being clever with content and their community.
Bringing it all Together: Where to Now?
William Bakker, Chief Strategist at Think Social Media @wilhelmus
William’s presentation was a real highlight and included a clever wrap of some of the presentations we had seen over the weekend. He talked about where we have come from in terms of marketing and content, where we are going to, and why there will be shift from destination marketing to destination management of stories. Here are some nuggets from his presentation:
Adapt or Die
Craig brought it home. I loved how he talked about the massive shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing and what it means for any business, especially tourism…..and as in my presentation, Craig also talked about the importance of your website being your home base; the importance of creating great content from your website and sharing it out via social media. This really resonated with me. In an essence, businesses need to adapt or die.
— Annabel Candy (@BloggingMentor) July 18, 2013
— Donna Moritz (@SociallySorted) July 18, 2013
That’s it from me. It was a packed two days, and I am still taking the content in! Were you at #SoMeT13AU? What Takeaway or Tweet resonated with you?
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