Getting together with other social media people always puts our thinking cap into overdrive, and last week’s Social Media Marketing Managers’ Meeting, hosted by Ayuntamiento Costa Adeje was definitely no exception. Today, we want to share some thoughts and ideas with all the Ayuntamientos in Tenerife, about how you should be using use Social Media to promote your municipality as a tourist destination.
We continue to see a lot of interest in social media from the various local authorities on Tenerife, and many are already starting to tap into this huge marketing potential. The following points and ideas will help you take your organisation beyond simply scratching the surface of what’s possible and help you make the best of this fantastic opportunity to attract more tourism and business to your area and to the island as a whole. Read through them, use them as your blueprint, and get back to us with your comments and any questions you may have.
1. Social media is everywhere and mobile devices are the key
The biggest development in Social Media Marketing is not the next big social network, but simply the fact that more and more people have a social media enabled device in their pocket. A few years ago, some people brought along laptops and netbooks on holiday. Today, it’s highly-portable smartphones and iPads and the trend is increasing at such a fast pace that soon just about everybody and his brother has one. This is absolutely game-changing, because now you can reach tourists even while they are out and about exploring the island.
Local authorities and companies alike need to understand how to engage this massive audience, launch promotions and connect with location-based marketing using websites like Facebook Places, Gowalla and Foursquare. These applications make it easy for people on the move to share their experiences with their friends and also to discover what attractions and events are happening in the area they are in at any particular moment. Think about that for a second!
2. Reach tourists through WiFi hotspots
WiFi hotspots are a not just a very attractive service you can provide to tourists at minimal cost, but also a very versatile way for you to advertise your local attractions to anyone who connects. You just need to set up a simple start page that people see when they log in and use this page to provide any information you want and lead users to the rest of your online content. It’s that easy!
Apart from making WiFi available in public places, you should also work with local companies and internet providers to provide WiFi access in other areas too. This will attract business and also lower the cost for tourists to access and use your own online services.
3. Adapt to your audience
The most obvious way to adapt to your audience and reach more people is to market in different languages. People on holiday abroad really appreciate it when they find relevant information in their own language, so focus your energies on marketing in as many as possible.
Also, while Facebook may be the most popular social network, not everyone uses it. Many Spanish youth may be more likely to use like Tuenti, for example, while you may find that professionals are more active on LinkedIn. Find out who your audience is and what social networks they use, and make sure you choose the right tools to communicate effectively.
4. Engage your audience in as many ways as possible
Social media is social. It’s not a one-way broadcast like TV or a magazine. Uploading great videos to your YouTube account is an awesome start, but you also need to go beyond that to take full advantage of the medium. Be active with the YouTube community by adding comments to other videos, subscribing to other channels, adding favourites, sharing videos on other social media accounts, and so on. Your interactions will be seen by the contacts of the people you interact with, and this will get you the highest visibility possible. The same thing applies to all the other social medial channels, so go out there and engage as many different communities as you can. We too often see YouTube, Flickr and other accounts with no contacts. Unfortunately, those users are missing out!
5. Aggressively promote all events you organise
Have a strategy in place to promote all the events you organise in the social media. Your promotion needs to start well before the event to generate interest. During the event you continue to engage participants and people at large through the social media, and you then conclude with an after-event follow up where you make the event’s success widely known, gather feedback, and also pre-advertise upcoming events to all who are interested.
6. Encourage word of mouth marketing
Nothing beats a personal recommendation and the best way to get new people to your destination is to get those that already come to promote you via their social networks in a natural and open manner. Encourage and remind your contacts and users to share their holiday experiences with their own social networks. Also make it easy for them to share your stuff by including the appropriate sharing options in your content.
7. Reach out to third parties and work with them to promote your content
Your core audience will be a great asset when it comes to getting your message out to their friends and social contacts. However, you also need to work with influential bloggers and social networkers, with your own clients and with leaders in the traditional local and international media. Reach out to anyone who wants to engage with you and build solid working relationships where you provide interesting content to those outlets that are looking for it. At the same time, work with other social media marketers to promote each other’s content to your respective audiences. Remember to always respect your audience and promote only genuinely relevant content. No spam!
8. You don’t have to create all the content yourself – get local businesses to help too
While you will surely have a lot to tell your audience, you also need to foster a social media culture in your local business community, to create a content-rich online environment for your guests to benefit from. Encourage companies to create and post well-written blogs, videos and photos and even run their own social media events such as competitions.
As the Ayuntamiento, your role would be to educate companies about the social media and to provide logistic support, networking, and possibly even financial help where necessary.
9. Build a local social media community of power users who can help get the ball rolling
Find out which local businesses are already making a solid use of social media (as well as those who are very keen to learn) and form a social media community of experts you can count on to help you lead the way and encourage other businesses to join in.
10. Run social media training workshops to lower the barrier for companies to participate
One of the biggest obstacles to being effective in Social Media is a lack of knowhow and ongoing training. Some people may feel overwhelmed by all these new technologies, while others may find it hard to keep up with the pace at which things are changing. Companies need help with learning how to physically manage social media accounts, build an audience and make the best of the medium. They will also need to be taught how to launch successful promotions and competitions and use these events to promote themselves and the local area to as wide an audience as possible. Host social media training workshops at regular intervals and use case studies to show companies that are new to the game how others have gone about their social media marketing and achieved success.
11. Let your creativity run wild
One of the secrets to success in social media marketing is to be brave enough to experiment, and your role as an Ayuntamiento is to lead the way and encourage companies to try new strategies and approaches. When it comes to marketing, being unusual and different is a good thing!
How about having a Social Media Awards each year with prizes for the companies with the most innovative strategies and the best social media performance? This would be a great opportunity to spread ideas that work and encourage other companies to redouble their social marketing efforts.
As you can see, there is a lot you can do to encourage a wider and more effective use of the social media to attract tourism to your area and boost local business. Remember that social media marketing has the potential to give you far better results than traditional methods and at a lower cost too! So use the above points and ideas to come up with a plan of action and put it into practice for the benefit of your community. Any comments or questions, just let us know!