Summer’s here for all intents and purposes and with that comes selfies, sunsets, cocktails and canoes. For Lisa LaVecchia, vice president and CMO of the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (OTMPC), those photo opportunities represent a powerful marketing and branding tool via social media for Canada’s fourth largest province.
LaVecchia’s team has a specific process: when they create a page on a social channel, they wholely commit and the results are staggering. On Facebook, Ontario Tourism has 252,000 Likes. On Twitter @OntarioTravel has 54,000 followers. But it is Instagram that the organization has seen the fastest growth. Since May 20, the brand has seen a 10 per cent increase in followers from 64,000 to more than 70,000 today.
LaVecchia attributes this success to a toolkit she created and shared with her team internally and tourism operators and representatives around the province.
1. Keep your partners informed and message simple
“We’re constantly trying to align with our stakeholders and one way we do that is by staying connected,” said LaVecchia. “Everyone knows our handles and hashtags; they all know where to find us.”
Ontario has an enormous number of regions and attractions and OTMPC works to keep representatives from all of them informed on branding activities and social campaigns. The ask is simple — promote photos on Instagram using the hashtag #DiscoverOn
“We have more than 100,000 consumers using #DiscoverON, that number grows every day so we know the message is getting out there,” said LaVecchia.
2. Dedicated expert resources required
It isn’t enough to run an account by committee, someone has to own it. In LaVecchia’s case, she brought on Jennifer Curtis as director of digital marketing to lead social for the brand.
“You need to choose someone who understand the channel, has a strong and careful voice and that is always on trend,” said LaVecchia. “What Jennifer brings that’s unique is a way to push those trends and develop new ones.”
So, find your own Jennifer, she’s taken!
3. Explore new trends.
“We’re a community not a campaign,” said LaVecchia, which means staying on trend and finding new ways to engage.
This summer the brand will invite people to share photos for a series OTMPC is calling “From Where I Stand”.
“It is already something that people love to do but we’ll share your photo of where you are standing in Ontario,” said LaVecchia.
The key here is to sometimes keep it simple—and it capture the zeitgeist when you can.
What works well one side of the province, might not, on another. To help mitigate this and maintain an honest brand voice throughout Ontario, LaVecchia has armed tourism information stations with their own branded social accounts to serve as ambassadors.
“We need more than one person’s sentiment to keep the account vibrant and full of local colour,” said LaVecchia. “Our eight ambassadors across the province provide that.”
Traditional tourism information centres hand out pamphlets, as does OTMPC in between engaging with potential visitors to a region on social media.
5. Crowd sourcing is invaluable
By extending the team beyond a traditional base of marketers you can also increase the number of eyeballs scanning for unique content to crowd source.
Ontario Travel invites visitors to submit their photos to be featured on its Instagram account by including this in the brand’s profile description:
Tag your photos #DiscoverON to give us permission to repost.
A brand cannot be in every corner of a region but tourists can be. Tap into your audience to create content.
6. Paid media and influencers are your friend
“We enhance all of our channels by bringing in influencers,” said LaVecchia. “We’re paying specifically for their photography and almost always for it to be featured Instagram.”
Ontario Travel will also augment social reach by using sponsored posts on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t be afraid to spend money to get results. It is a pay-to-play environment.
7. Treat each platform differently
Every platform has its own character and content requirements. Just because a piece of content gets traction on Facebook doesn’t mean it is suitable for Instagram. Facebook is where a community comes to talk and Instagram is where it comes to gawk.
Regardless of the platform, the tourism industry’s social media goals should revolve around creating content that feels organic and represents the region appropriately.
“You don’t want it to feel like you are selling the region,” said LaVecchia. “You want people to feel like they want to be a part of the experience.”
Find new visitors and listen to what interests them using Cision’s social intelligence solutions. Learn how to monitor everything in this whitepaper.