December 2012 – Social media trends in tourism for 2013

The genie looks ahead to 2013 (courtesy Asiatic League on Flickr CC)

The genie looks ahead to 2013 (courtesy Asiatic League on Flickr Creative Commons)

Before we dive into any thoughts about what’s changing or trending in the future, let’s take a moment to suck in a bunch of head-clearing oxygen with a deep breath, and remember that basic goals for tourism marketing have not changed….

….Make people aware of your destination, spark magical thoughts in their brain of, “Hey, I’d like to go THERE,” convince them to actually visit, spend some money, spend the night and then go home and get their friends and family to visit, too.

We know; it is super-hard to keep the big picture as communications tools change and morph, people squawk about things like Instagram changing rules with Twitter, every day brings new Whack-A-Mole fun about whether anyone sees your Facebook updates and you’re still explaining to a skeptical boss or Board of Directors about Twitter or whether bloggers belong on your press trips.

As your guides and social media personal trainers here at Tourism Currents, let us help you look ahead and prep for the long game, not the quick one-time play.

4 Trends We See For 2013

In keeping with our theme from last month’s Black Friday Open Comments live chat, here are a few of “Our Favorite” trends that we think will play a big part in tourism looking ahead to 2013. Use them as a framework to help tweak your own destination marketing strategy.

1)  Pictures, pictures and more pictures – With Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Foodspotting and all the other sites that emphasize social photography, it is clear (#NoFilter) that visual content is what the public wants. Looks like 2013 will be a big year for images across all channels (including video) because they allow our visitors and customers to digest information quickly, emotionally and in a way that is easy to share.

Do not get caught up in the piles of photography apps and tools: if you don’t have time right now to do justice to, say, Pinterest, then do not do it. Focus efforts where your market is most active, and add more imagery there. Better to do one thing well then a mediocre job all over the place.

—->>  Your next step: Think through every element of your communications strategy; how can strong visuals be added or strengthened?

2)  Integration of social media – No one should still be looking at social media as a stand-alone channel or afterthought. For example, when you consider advertising spend, part of that discussion should cover whether you want to do Facebook advertising. Social media mentions, Likes, shares etc. are now part of search engine ranking algorithms, too. It all matters, so think holistically.

In 2013, social media must be integrated into your marketing mix for two reasons. First, social media can lead your visitors and customers to the “right” travel information just for them based on your real-time social posts. Second, when your data and analytics show you what is the “right” travel information that resonates for certain segments of your market, you can personalize messages and content directly to those segments. Social media is now an integral part of the path leading your visitors to find exactly what they are looking for, and making your destination a perfect fit.

Your markets are integrating social into their own activities in many ways. How about the “second screen” – did you know that more and more people are simultaneously watching TV programs and talking on social media with a smartphone or tablet about what they are seeing on the television? Does your search engine marketing support your TV marketing? Knitting all of the different elements together will get a lot more emphasis in 2013.

—->>  Your next step:  Always – always – consider digital, social and mobile communications when you strategize about reaching visitors. Do not assume that your market is “too old” for it, either.

3)  Storytelling will shine – Storytelling shows personality, and humans with a personality are what our visitors crave. Having that compelling story-telling voice builds strong relationships with your visitors and keeps them coming back for more.

Every destination marketing organization today is an online publisher, content creator and storyteller. Every one. They are all those things whether they are taking advantage of today’s extraordinary platforms and capabilities or not. Would you rather be the windshield, or the bug?

—->>  Your next step:  Review your marketing approach. How much of it is the usual “Eat. Stay. Play.” that does not tell visitors anything special? Use the multimedia publishing features of your blog, Facebook Page and other channels to show your destination or attraction’s true personality. A website is merely a starting point for your online presence.

4)  Your locals, visitors and partners are crowdsourcing content for you right now, and will continue to do so – They are tweeting, Facebooking, taking photos and blogging, but often are never acknowledged, and too rarely do they see the DMO commenting on and sharing their content. Why not build your content with those who love and support you? This plays right into Trend 2: being human.

LISTENING and RESPONDING will create content. Saying “Thank You” creates content. Sharing good stuff = content.

Crowdsourcing content creates engagement….which builds relationships….which makes people want to connect and visit….which is what your marketing strategy should be all about.

—->>  Your next step:  Let your visitors, your businesses, your locals play a part in your content strategy. For a wider reach and variety in your media coverage, adding bloggers to your outreach mix is now pretty standard and we’ll see even more of that in the months to come.

What are your thoughts about trends in 2013? Share them down in the comments where it says, “Speak Your Mind!”


 Stay Up To Speed: Plan For Your 2013 Training

We know your plate is full. That’s why Tourism Currents is here. We’re your social media personal trainers and we’re ready to help you, your staff and your member businesses make the most of 2013.

In person or online, we offer customized programs for those starting out, to those who are more advanced and just need a little help in a certain area. Let us help you get your destination in shape for a profitable and successful new year.

Our online store of training services is always open, and we’re switch hitters: we train online and off!


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Commenting area

  1. Pleasepleasepleaseplease let you be right about story. Please. (Man, that’s bad grammar. But you get my meaning.)

  2. We sure do, Pam.

    And you get a grammar pass all day since y’all blew away your Passports with Purpose goal yesterday for the water wells in Haiti – thank you for the opportunity to participate!

  3. Troy Thompson December 14, 2012 at 12:54 am · ·

    Good stuff Leslie and team.

    Love Trend #4. Don’t create, curate.

    – Troy

  4. Stephanie Lynch December 19, 2012 at 10:03 am · ·

    Great stuff as always guys. Integration is definitely my mantra for 2013. The only contribution I could make to your list would be to mention video (within your picture category). I believe that video is a daunting channel for most–but with the new updates for YouTube, the release of the YouTube Capture app yesterday and the availability of (self-serve) video ad product (on Facebook (it’s coming!) and Google channels), even the small orgs can dip their toe in the water. All you need is a good quality smartphone…and of course…the most crucial element…the right staffer:-)

    Happy holidays and New Year, Sheila. Looking forward to 2013.

  5. Hi Stephanie – absolutely agree about video. If you can start out very simple and very short, you’ll learn to shoot only what you really need and not get tied up too much in editing, which can be a real time suck when you’re still learning.

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