In this opinion piece, Hootsuite regional marketing manager Ben Mulligan (pictured below) takes a look at just how effective everyday Aussies are at helping grow the awareness of travel and hospitality brands on social media.
In 1984, Paul Hogan famously offered to “throw another shrimp on the barbie” in an ad to lure tourists Down Under. Two years later, he starred in Crocodile Dundee and became an internationally renowned star. As he grew in popularity, his ad would come to define Australia’s image in the US. In a way, he made Australia’s first meme.
Thirty years on, culinary tourism has become the leading hook in travel – and social is the line and sinker. From photobloggers to Foodstagrammers, social has made it possible for people to entertain and engage the world by posting what they’re passionate about. Today’s top Instagrammers can engage hundreds of millions of followers with each post. There are also local experts with deep knowledge of the area who can tell their fans where to find the best avocado smash in Alice Springs, or the best negroni in Newport.
Given the broad range of personalities on social media, consumers now draw inspiration from a host of personalities. In fact, travellers who Instagram themselves at a hotel or bar are quickly becoming the best ambassadors a brand could ask for. An Australian hotel, bar or restaurant is tagged on Instagram every 28 seconds, and each user shares a moment with their social circle. Hootsuite’s latest research shows 71 per cent of consumers make purchasing decisions based upon what they discover on social media. Since there are 16 million Australians on social, today’s most successful brands are leveraging their following to share thousands, or millions of unique stories.
If the numbers aren’t convincing enough, look at the avenues. There are also influencers with a sizable following of more than 1,000 fans who are already a credible source to them, and whose endorsement becomes a powerful way to spread the word about brand experience.
Hootsuite’s research also found that Instagram users with 10,000 followers or more can boost the total volume of users posting about a hotel, bar or restaurant by 61 per cent. Their wide reach can help to drive awareness, similar to a glossy magazine.
Then there are influencers with 1,000 to 10,000 followers and highly passionate fans in their niche. They have in-depth knowledge in what they do, giving them deeper appeal and more engaged fans. As a result, someone closely aligned with a brand’s image can energise their followers to take action, possibly blazing their own trail across the continent in search of brunch.
Sharing with friends and family
Breaking this down further, a global study by Edelman shows 72 per cent of the general public trust social media content is shared by friends and family. The people closest to someone are the greatest ‘influencers’ of all, and the total reach of an organisation’s employees can easily rival a multimillion-dollar influencer campaign, if they were inspired to become brand advocates. The hospitality industry employs over 445,000 Australians. Conservatively assuming we have an average social audience of 200 followers, there is the potential for organisations to increase their visibility significantly.
This all comes back to social enabling people to curate their own content. They are now free to create their own list of people to follow, have real-time conversations with them and frequently influence the influencer’s content. Hotel chains such as Accor increase their reach by enabling their employees to develop a stream of content on their own social channels. This lets them share with their family and build new relationships with customers before and after their stay.
Between influencers, employees and engaged followers, social is an invaluable way to spread the word in a personal way. Finding out what interests customers and sparking conversations around each great experience is key.