More and more travelers are planning their activities based on experiences shared by their peers on social media. A whopping 97% of millennials share photos and videos of their travels online. And when booking travel, 89% of millennials plan travel activities based on content posted by their peers online. With this in mind, it’s important to have a plan in place to guide all of your social media efforts—posting organic content, selectively boosting that content, advertising, sharing, engaging, and harnessing influencers to attract attention to your destination.
In the area of social, one of the most useful efforts a DMO can implement (on an annual basis) is a comprehensive assessment of your social efforts from the previous year coupled with developing a social strategy for the next 12 months. This process includes the development of an editorial calendar to help your social media team plan and shape content and which can then be used for post-analysis to evaluate the efforts of your team.
Let’s begin by addressing the Who, What and When of social media best practices for your Destination Marketing Organization.
Personas: WHO are you speaking to?
The first step in creating a robust social media strategy is defining WHO your content should be targeting. Much of this effort can be informed by Google and Facebook Analytics, primary research conducted for your destination (intercept studies, etc.), secondary research (as relatable to your destination as possible), and from your Marketing Action Plan. Cull that data, start looking for commonalities among your analytics and narrow down/define your visitor personas.
Remember: “Everyone” is not a defined audience. You need to develop four to five personas that best reflect YOUR destination’s primary target audiences. Ask yourself questions like:
- Are the majority of our social media followers male or female? Married or single? Millennials or Boomers?
- What are visitors looking to our destination to provide?
- For now, are you able to focus on visitors who live within a reasonable driving radius of our city?
- What are the top 10 markets (in priority order) that visitors are traveling from?
- What type of social content is getting the most interaction—carousel ads that feature stakeholders? User-generated content? Event promotions?
Categories: WHAT are you speaking about?
Leverage the information you were able to assemble while developing your personas (see above) and focus on what those personas like to do (and what they like to share that they are doing) in your destination. Perhaps one of your personas is a foodie—capture their interest by promoting local chefs and compelling food-related experiences that are unique to your destination. Or maybe one of your visitor profiles is young families—talk to them about all the kid-friendly attractions your destination has to offer. If you don’t have the budget for or don’t have access to primary or relevant secondary research, dive into your current social media insights or engage in social listening to uncover top keywords, posts, engaging content, etc. based on likes, shares and comments. The goal is to provide the most engaging information about topics your target audiences care about.
Calendaring: WHEN are you speaking about WHAT and to WHO?
Developing an editorial calendar to drive your social media strategy is a key best practice. Start with a blank, nondescript monthly calendar to which you will add a persona and category for each day of the week. This will provide an organized structure of WHO you’re talking to and WHAT you should be talking to them about as you begin planning out your content. Here, you can also feature holidays, local events, “bounce-forward” opportunities (i.e. future events that travelers can plan to attend), member news, and more all in one convenient social schedule.
Reporting: WHY are you going to all this effort?
Organizing and then analyzing who you’re speaking to, what you’re speaking about and when you share information (peak time from social insights) will help you better understand your visitors and fine-tune your overall marketing strategy to keep your destination at the forefront of travelers’ minds as they plan their next business trip, vacation or bleisure excursion.
Ask yourself: what are you trying to accomplish? What are your key business goals and objectives from your DMO’s strategic plan? Establish key metrics and specific goals that you can review in the future—whether that means generating more room nights, website visits, conversions, likes, shares, or engagement.
If you get nothing else from this blog, make sure you’re speaking TO the right audience with relevant content. Use the best practices checklist below to begin formulating your destination’s social media strategy.
- Download the Social Media Assessment Worksheet here. Set goals and establish the best channels for your target audience.
- Dive into insights and understand your visitor demographics and psychographics to create personas.
- Create categories for content that is of the most relevance to your target personas.
- Create a comprehensive Social Media Editorial Calendar.
- Include your personas in the calendar on a naturally rotating basis (so you’re not posting to the same person on the same day each week).
- Include your categories in the calendar on a naturally rotating basis (so you’re not posting about the same topic on the same day each week).
If you have any questions about our social media assessment or editorial calendar planning tools, or if you would like to discuss Stamp’s assistance in any area of your destination’s social media efforts, please feel free to reach out to Maghen.