Tweets and Takeaways – Social Media Tourism Symposium #SoMeT13AU

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.

I have been a speaker at 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


From Tourism Australia to Facebook to YouTube to Trip Advisor to Tourism Canada and more....these are their hot tips!
  • Save

From Tourism Australia to Facebook to YouTube to Trip Advisor to Tourism Canada and more….these are their hot tips!

  1. User Generated Content is the Holy Grail of Marketing. Inspire your community to create and share content about you.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

William Price (Global e-Marketing Manager at South Africa Tourism) @william_price

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:

[youtube=]                   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

Rodney Payne (CEO at Think Social Media Group) @RodneyP and Tabitha Galvin, Marketing Coordinator at Destination Wollongong @tabgalvin

Wollongong presenting at SoMeT13Au
  • Save

Wollongong Showcase the reach of their Social Media Campaign to win #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, and 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

Sarah Mattsson, Manager – Digital Content, Tourism and Events Queensland @sosarina


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 Blocksidge, Owner/Operator of the Margaret River Discovery Co., @TourMargaretRiver

Margaret River Discovery Company Presentation
  • Save

A picture a day says a 1000 words….and builds a very impressive company.

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?).

Margaret River Discovery Co - Social Media at #SoMeT13AU
  • Save

One Image a Day. Powerful Stuff.



From Cave Drawings to Instagram – How the Shift to Visual Social Media is Creating Emotional Connections with Consumers

Donna Moritz (yep, that's me), Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted. @sociallysorted

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

Kate Duffy showing Infographic from Canadian Tourism Commission
  • Save

Kate Duffy showcases how Canada is in the business of being social

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:






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


The big guns didn't disappoint with some fabulous takeaways on the Twitterfeed:


The World's Biggest Social Media Team

Jesse Jesjardins, Social Media & Advocacy Manager  at Tourism Australia, @jessedee

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 

Hamilton Island Presentation
  • Save

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

Beckie Mitchell, Digital Marketing Executive at Art Series Hotel @BeckieMitchell

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

Emmanuelle Legault, Vice President Marketing at Tourisme Montreal @emmanuelleMTL

Tourisme Montreal Presentation
  • Save

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 Bakker Presentation
  • Save

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 Wilson, Founder of Sticky @mediahunter

The decline of outbound marketing
  • Save

A Scary Slide…if you are still “shouting” at your target audience.

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.


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?

The following two tabs change content below.

Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is a Visual Content Strategist and founder of Socially Sorted, listed by Forbes as a "Top 5 Social Media Blog You Need to Know About in 2019". Donna 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.

You May Also Like


  1. Loretta Smith

    Great suggestions! I’ve done most of them on a regular basis 🙂

    • Donna Moritz

      That’s great Loretta – you are doing better than most big companies if you can keep up with all of that!

  2. yTravelBlog

    Wowee! You must be exhausted after all those tweet imbeds. Epic job!! Great wrap up Donna. It was great to meet and chat with you in real life.

    • Donna Moritz

      ha ha I think I might give the tweet embeds a miss at Problogger – they were very naughty today when finishing it off…lol… I just love that the Twitter feed is such a great wrap of the best bits though, so it is worth the effort. It’s always a surprise to see what resonated with people. It was great to meet you in person too – will look forward to hearing more about your trip plans at Problogger over a drink!

  3. Matt Jones

    Well done Donna, an excellent overview of the #SoMeT13AU conference and I love your use of tweets. It was great to meet you at the conference and thanks again for posting this comprehensive overview. I agree travel + social media combined = winning!

    • Donna Moritz

      Thanks Matt! I should be thanking you for giving me the awesome tweets – you guys all wrote it for me as the Twitter Feed Rocked! It was a fabulous two days and fabulous content. Glad you had a great time too!

  4. Annabel Candy

    Hello Ms. Donna,

    Didn’t we have a good time?! Love how you’ve shared the tweets here. I’ve live blogged events in the past which was grueling but live tweeting is much easier and gives people a great overview. Thanks for sharing so much here and your talk was ace too 🙂

    • Donna Moritz

      It was a blast Annabel! Wow, live blogging – I always envy anyone that does that. I do love the tweets though – it is the quickest way to see what resonated with the audience. I must say it was so much fun to get off stage and read all the tweets – like an instant summary of the best bits. And thanks for the feedback – means a lot coming from you! x

  5. wilhelmus

    Great post Donna, thanks for your participation and for taking the time to create this wrap-up. See you next year!

    • Donna Moritz

      Thanks so much William – and thanks for making it easy – your session was exceptional! It was a great summary of the event and gave everyone a lot to think about! Have loved reading some of your blog posts since. If only every social media agency or expert was as insightful and innovative as the Think Team. I think next year will be a hard-fought competition for hosting, and will need to be a bigger venue as the word is out about what those that were not there missed out on!

      • William Price

        So pleased that we’re getting more and more from Think! Social Media in our world too.
        We started off with doing a simple Social Media Audit and then a Competitor Analysis – now we’re working on Social Strategy and more of the not so serious brand heavy, dull, navel gazing @JanineHutton keeps talking about.
        Social Media should be the more fun space – that’s what we’re working towards in South African Tourism

        • Donna Moritz

          Sounds awesome William! You are right – it should be fun!

  6. William Price


    Great job. You’ve pulled all the really important points together in a easy to apply, and contextualise kind of way.

    It’s so good to see the post event coverage and this wrap-up has been a terrific reminder of all the important stuff I need to also pay attention to now… and getting ready for next year!

    • Donna Moritz

      Wow William, thanks – that means a lot coming from you. I knew I was in for a great conference just 2 minutes into your opening presentation. I for one, am very curious to see what your team at Tourism South Africa comes up with over the next year if the past year has been anything to go on! We Aussies, South Africans and Canadians are a clever bunch!

      • William Price

        We do have a special something that we share with Canadians and Australians… trying to figure that one out too – but yes, we’re working hard at applying to good stuff we learn and also from the stuff we mess up on – those learning are really valuable too… and we often don’t like to learn from the mistakes do we – being able to share those is also a challenge I find.
        We’ve learnt a lot along the way and taking risks have been the biggest, and best teacher on our journey.
        Looking forward to seeing how our #MeetSouthAfrica campaign work leads us into new spaces and places.

        • Donna Moritz

          I agree, learning from mistakes often makes the best case studies and you are right, it is a challenge to share but I think that some of the best successes (including at this conference) came from learning from failures. With you guys all taking a leap of faith and trying new things there are bound to be hiccups along the way, but the results are really exciting!

  7. Jan Hutton

    World class Donna (!) so appreciate you compiling all the high-notes into one place for us. Wonderful wrap-up, made me reminisce about the conference. Had such a fabulous time in Aus! Have to echo your sentiments … the Aussies, South Africans & Canadians are rather a clever bunch…lets keep learning from each other. Look forward to catching up with you next year!

    • Donna Moritz

      Thanks so much Jan! I am glad to hear you had a great trip. I have only been to the top part of Africa in all my travels but I have a lot of SA friends around the world so I hope to get to the tip sometime ha ha. The conference was fabulous and we were lucky it wasn’t so massive that we got to meet and chat (even by twitter) – though I think that next year they will have to get a big venue, as the word is OUT! I will look forward to seeing you then!

  8. Ian Cleary

    Well done Donna, some great info above and congrats on your speaking gig. Looks like a great event!

    • Donna Moritz

      Thanks Ian! Much appreciated. It was certainly one of the best conferences I have been to, mainly because the speakers were presenting on so many real life (and freakin’ awesome, innovative) case studies. There was no hiding behind theory – some of the campaigns were just so insightful. You would have loved it. Looking forward to next year!

  9. Rebecca White

    Thanks for a great conference wrap up Donna, that is a fantastic summary for those not at the event! I was following the conference via Twitter and I and will definitely be there next year!

    • Donna Moritz

      Thanks a lot Rebecca – that’s great to hear and that’s so cool that you were following via Twitter – the feed was great. I think a lot of people will be there next year – they will have to double the venue size!

  10. Lyne

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Looks like a great learning experience. Hope I can get to attend next year.

    • Donna Moritz

      You are welcome, and I hope you do too Lyne!



  1. 3 Social Media Actions You are Missing (and How 3 Clicks Can Fix It) | Socially Sorted - [...] share  visual content such as images, photos and video.  I presented on it two weeks ago at the Social…
  2. 5 Videos to Get You Thinking about Marketing, Social Media & Content | Socially Sorted - […] at South African Tourism for showing these first two videos at his recent presentation at the Social Media Tourism Symposium…
  3. Anthill's Top 100 Cool Company List (2013) - Why it Rocks to Be On It | Socially Sorted - […] most exciting point from James’ presentation as far as I am concerned.  I spoke at the Social Media Tourism…
  4. 5 Unmissable SlideShare Presentations about Social Media - […] of speaking alongside Jesse Desjardins (Head of Social Media, Tourism Australia) in 2013 at the Social Media Tourism Symposium.…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share via
Copy link