Good morning everyone. My name is Amy Fisher and I’m the Internet Marketing Specialist for Social Media for Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism. For the past year I’ve been working closely with my internal team members and our agency Target Marketing and ZedIT to launch our new website for NewfoundlandLabrador.com and to execute our Internet and Social Media strategies, which is what I’m here to talk about today.
Our social media strategy is not a stand-alone component. It stems from our overarching Advertising strategy and objectives, through to our Internet Marketing strategy and objectives, and then down to our Social Media Marketing strategy and objectives. The key to a successful social media strategy is ensuring that it’s a part of an integrated marketing communications plan, and that messaging across all platforms is consistent and on brand. Social media is really just another medium used to communicate with your customers. Social media websites, be they Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, are just tools. You must have a solid strategy in mind before you deploy anything in these mediums.
There are hundreds of social tools out there, so it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed. But instead of asking “What social media websites should we be on?” or “What are we going to do with Facebook and Twitter?”, you should really be asking “why?”. “ What” simply defines what tools to use. Asking “why” forces you to develop a well thought out strategy.
We defined and set measurable and realistic goals to use as a foundation for building a strategy to achieve those goals.
Build brand awareness; specifically increase NL’s brand footprint and overall web presence through participation in social media networks Increase social media traffic (as a source of referral traffic) to NewfoundlandLabrador.com Increase engagement within social media as well as engagement and conversion of social traffic to NewfoundlandLabrador.com 4.Increase customer and brand communications with the goal to positively influence brand perceptions / travel / trip planning 5. Improve Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism’s search engine rankings within the context of a larger SEO and link-building framework; specifically using social networking site optimization
So now that we have our goals defined, from here, we go back to asking “What?”, but this time with strategy and our objectives in mind. So, “What will we use to build brand awareness”? “What are the best platforms to use that will achieve our marketing objectives”? Our strategy is to focus on a select number of social sites to increase our overall web presence by selecting sites that fulfill our marketing objectives based on audience, relevance, and user engagement on those platforms. We select specific touch points and use them strategically. The most important thing to remember is to be where your customers are. Ask yourself “does it make sense?”
Our social toolbox consists of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, our blogs and our eNews. The goal is to simply let each channel do what it does best. We leverage each channel based on its strengths and intended purpose, and we provide each audience with the right experience to maximize the results. All of our channels are integrated within our website using each site’s API (Application Programming Interface), and this allows us to be consistent across platforms and our website. This also decreases administrative time by allowing us to populate our website with social media content that would otherwise have to be entered separately.
Here’s our Facebook page, and to date we have 27, 306 likes. Mainly we chose Facebook as a social media tool to use because we wanted to create a community for people to ask travel questions and share their experiences. A lot of the conversations on Facebook are between community members – we help facilitate discussions. It also allows us to join conversations and drive traffic to our website, and to connect, share, listen, and engage with our partners and local tourism operators.
Here’s our twitter feed, and we currently have 3,599 followers. Twitter is a great place to engage with consumers, engage in real time news stories, and is overall a very efficient and effective platform for communication.
Here’s our YouTube channel, where we’ve had tremendous success building brand awareness by creating and sharing viral content, from our commercials, to digital vignettes, and most importantly, to our user generated content. Our YouTube and Flickr accounts are also an important component of our website, and they act as the hub for video and photo content which can be pulled into other channels.
Here’s our Flickr account, where we house all of our images. As mentioned, these images are also pulled into our website. We also joined onto a community Flickr group, where users can submit their own photos.
So if we look back to the goals that we outlined, I’ll give some examples of some specific strategies and executions.
One of the most effective and efficient ways to generate brand awareness is through word of mouth, as it’s cost effective and creates reach and visibility. To do so, we provide engaging and shareable content that provokes discussion and contribution, we leverage social sharing tools, and we implement viral loop dynamics wherever possible. What makes something viral? It should be exciting, fun, interesting and not forced. It should inately imply a multi-person dynamic.
We try to provide engaging and sharable content across all our platforms. You don’t just want to be pushing products or your own message. You can’t speak to people through social networks the way advertising speaks to people. It should be a two way conversation and you should be interacting with consumers. Promote conversations that aren’t directly related to your product or service, but that are top of mind for your community. You want to have a content/engagement strategy for topic ideas/conversations so it doesn’t seem forced and you’re not posting something just to post. Don’t be corporate, be real and have fun. Show personality. Be nimble. Be creative. Think of ways to reward your best ambassadors.
This is an example of one of our best viral videos that was a video submitted by Tony Lee in 2008. The video was so successful that the CTC picked it up to also use in their own campaign. Some of our most recent videos have reached over 65,000 views and were on YouTube’s “Top favourited” list for Travel & Events and most viewed video in Canada. What makes something viral? It should be exciting, fun, interesting and not forced. People should feel connected to the content and it should inately imply a multi-person dynamic. We try to tailor and personalize content across platforms as much as possible to cater to the target different audiences in each medium.
Increase social media traffic (as a source of referral traffic) to NewfoundlandLabrador.com
There are various ways to drive traffic back to your website, including referrals, blogs and news articles, and contests and promotions.
Be an expert. People will come to you looking for advice and information.
The 48 Half Hour Contest was a huge success. For those of you who don’t know, we hosted a Facebook contest in which we gave away a free flight to NL every half hour for 48 half hours (or 24 hours). We doubled our Facebook likes and the contest itself had resounding effects on our website traffic. Be cautious when creating a Facebook contest – there are specifc contest rules you must follow – not simple
When I say Improve Customer Relations, I’m referring to increasomg engagement, customer, and brand communications to positively influence brand perceptions/travel/trip planning.
Increase engagement, customer, and brand communications to positively influence brand perceptions/travel/trip planning Not only do we engage with travelers, but we also have internal customers such as our operators and partners. It’s important to keep up communication and engage with all our stakeholders.
This is especially important when we’re dealing with negative comments or perceptions. Because hey, we make mistakes too. Never delete negative comments. You want to show your audience you’re receptive and willing to admit mistakes. Unless there is profanity, slander, etc., you should never delete negative comments as it shows consumers that you are filtering information, which is the opposite of what social media is about. You should have a risk assessment strategy and refer to internal policies and guidelines if something borders on the line of deletion. The thing with social media is that the conversations are happening online anyway, so you may as well be there so you can tell your side of the story.
Be receptive to feedback, but take it offline. Show you’ve made a commitment to resolve the problem and move the conversation to a more appropriate medium.
Improving Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism’s overall web presence within the context of a larger SEO and link-building framework; specifically using social networking site optimization
We’ve improved our SEO by increasing our overall web presence and ensuring we have new content on our website and social media channels regularly. There should be some regularity in terms of when you’re posting content, but you shouldn’t post for the sake of posting. Only post when you have something interesting and valuable to say. People will come to your website and social channels to search for information they can’t find elsewhere – be an expert in your field and share information that consumers will find helpful and engaging. Have people link back to your website either through a reciprocal linking strategy or by having news/media content written about you online – blogs/articles. Monitor – Google Alerts
So I’ll leave you with some final words of advice. No one is an expert is social media. We’re all just learning from consumers. Be real and have fun.
Thanks for your time. If you have any questions or comments, or if you have any content you’d like us to share through our social networks, you can contact me here.
Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism Social Media Strategy Amy Fisher Internet Marketing Specialist