Responsible tourism and social media marketing
For responsible tourism companies, marketing their experiences and offerings on social media can mean straddling a fine line between promotion and authenticity to reach the right audience. The challenge is how can they promote responsible tourism without using the word ‘responsible’.
Here are a few points that all responsible tourism companies need to keep in mind while marketing on social media:
1. Simple stories about everyday life in a place are central to building a connection with the audience.
2. Find short anecdotes about characters around you — people, mythological figures, animals, rivers, trees and buildings — that could be told in an emotionally powerful way.
3. Create still pictures or video portraits of these characters, or stories that follow their journeys: animal rescue operations, cooking meals with ingredients bought from a local market or foraged from a forest, an elderly lady learning to use a camera, a porter in the hills, etc.
4. Highlight the impact of your work using a ‘before’ and ‘after’ photo-series and videos with simple captions say, on rebuilding after a natural disaster, reviving a pond or a dying craft, replacing plastics with bamboo in articles of daily use, etc.
5. Get people from the rural communities to tell their stories directly to the world. Voices of Munsiyari, India’s first Instagram account to be run entirely by a rural village community, is a great example.
6. Mobile is the most important device for social media. Make sure your storytelling looks good on a mobile interface.
1. Create a monthly editorial calendar at the beginning of every month to divide days by theme. For example, Mondays can be for destination-related posts, Tuesdays for inspirational posts, Wednesdays on experiences and Thursdays to highlight characters integral to your work or travels.
2. Try a mix of photos, videos, questions, polls, call- to-action, only text, and see what works best for you and your audience.
3. Experiment with day and time of posting to assess when you get greater engagement.
4. Add your enterprise’s name in creative hashtags for a campaign or event to cement the association and aid promotion.
5. Engage as regularly as possible with readers and followers by responding to comments and messages to deepen the connection with your audience.
Creating awareness about your destination and the experiences you offer? Connecting with a specific kind of audience? Getting bookings from social media? Using the platform as a channel for guests to recommend you to future travellers? You could be present on all channels but decide your core platform once the objectives are clear.
1. Use platform insights and analytics to weigh time spent on a platform against gains from it in terms of revenues, followers and views, depending on your objectives.
2. Go the extra mile, and track some of these manually.
3. Create a dedicated email address just for Facebook for you to track inquiries coming through the platform.
4. Share different incentive codes offering free guided tours or a welcome drink on different social media platforms to track customers channeled through them.
5. Do it the old-fashioned way. Collect feedback through a physical form or ask how they found out about you.
6. Look at user-generated content by following the appearance of your unique hashtags and blogs and articles written about you using Google Alerts.
7. Meaningful conversations with your audience, comments and private messages from them are a sign of engagement growing over time.
8. People connect with your passion for your work. Guests and visitors tend to share reviews or stories of places where they had an opportunity to interact with the host.
1. Numbers don’t necessarily lead to awareness or conversion.
2. Check to ensure that your followers are real, engagement is good and that you’re comfortable with the quality and messaging in their feeds.
3. Ask for references, follow their feeds, track the comments and help other people engage with them.
4. You can spot fake followers using free tools such as Bot Checkers, Instagram and Twitter Audit Scores.
If you do not have time for social media content creation and engagement you could hire a professional blogger or storyteller.
...increase brand destination awareness in four phases of travel: dreaming, planning, experiencing and sharing.
...create backlinks for your website and/or social media handles.
...by participating in campaigns to promote a product, service, brand, destination or idea through popular hashtags.
...create content that you can use to share on your channels or you can buy for your commercial use
These figures will help you judge the reach and potential efficacy of a digital storyteller.
1. Domain Authority Score tells you the quality of content and the authority of the website or blog hosted by the influencer. High-ranking sites or blogs get a bigger boost on Google than low-ranking ones, and hence could be indicative of the reach of the influencer. Scores range from 0 to 100 and the maximum tends to be about 60. A score above 40 can be considered robust.
2. Backlinks refer to all the links that point to your website or blog. Links from authoritative and relevant sites help you rank better in the Google Search Engine Result Page (SERP).
3. Spam Scores are indicative of the quality of content on a website. A higher positive score suggests that the content is of questionable standard and veracity.
4. Respect copyright. Make sure you have an agreement before you actually start to use a storyteller’s content for commercial purposes.
(This article is adapted from a workshop conducted by Shivya Nath, Blogger & Author Of 'The Shooting Star', and Mariellen Ward, Blogger at Breathedreamgo.com, at IRTA 2019)