While attending the recently concluded Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo 2015, I clearly discovered we are not telling enough stories of the amazing potential sources of foreign exchange in our country. The event was centered more on Family and Travel which means accommodation service providers, car hire and different air carriers were all present at the expo. Despite the fact that the Tourism Expo was free of charge, the attendance was good but not as much as one would have expected. Being a Social Media enthusiast; I took out to twitter and other social media platforms to find out the Social stories that were being shared with the Event’s official hash tag #POATE2015. Twitter dominated with the highest number of the posts followed by Facebook.
Before we go deeper into how the Ugandan Tourism industry can leverage on the Social web tools, I decided to reach out to the team that was behind the Pearl of Africa Expo 2015 to hear their views on how main stream and Social media are performing as far as awareness and publicity of the Tourism activities is concerned. Here is what Safia Ali a team member of the Uganda Tourism Board had to say; “We have seen an increasing trend in the coverage and publicity of tourism in Uganda by the main stream media over the years, however more efforts need to be invested into Social media awareness and publicity. We also clearly understand that Social media and the internet is the way to go now and as such we are putting more attention to ensure that we leverage on the social web tools to boost tourism.”
I absolutely agree that there is tremendous improvement in the attitude of domestic and international visitors towards tourism in Uganda. As part of the efforts to ensure the tourism sector booms, I have put pen to paper to share out the various ways in which the Ugandan Tourism sector can leverage on Social Media and the internet to funnel in more visitors. For clarity of the different ways I am about to discuss, all agencies involved in the tourism sector need to note that Social media does not operate in isolation of other traditional communication channels, instead it’s a strong support tool to effectiveness. Here are 6 Social Media Tips for Tourism;
1. Align your social media strategy with your overall goals and objectives.
The most important metrics for agencies and organizations are those that align with your overall goals and objectives, whether it’s the one for your entire business or for a specific campaign. For example, if your objective is to increase engagement, then your brand should focus on engagement metrics such as likes, retweets, mentions, comments, and shares. If your objective is to drive business growth, then you should focus on metrics such as click-throughs, website traffic from social, and conversions driven by social media
2. Synchronize Content
All organizations and agencies involved in the tourism sector need to tell the tourism story through synchronized and uniform content across the different media channels. This content should be in line with the overall goals and objectives of the tourism industry in a given sector ranging from wildlife, people culture to flora. The strategy can look at content that can be easily shared by the readers like Videos, articles, infographics, podcasts to mention but a few.
3. Social media management needs a social army
You need to build a social army for more social media effectiveness.” Social media management is a team effort, and an internal social media policy is a great way to build brand ambassadors. From tour managers to content and community specialists, organizations should also encourage their employees to share their travel stories through various social media channels. And do not forget that a social media army hastens the viral marketing.
4. Listen and engage with your audience
There are a few easy tactics a tourism brand can use to engage their audience on social media. One of them is creating a consistent hashtag; hashtags allow the conversation about a given event or campaign to continue online but more importantly many other people can be able to follow the conversations happening irrespective of their geographical and physical location. Social media is a great market research tool, and with so many different social media analytics tools, there’s no excuse for not being familiar with your audience’s interests and desires. My recommendation to tourism brands is to “listen, listen, listen, and engage with your audience.” Showcase your brand’s great customer service by listening to your customers 24/7 on social media, and always respond to their comments, even if they happen to be negative.
5. Encourage influencers and customers to tell their travel story on social media.
Tourism brands need to encourage influencers, bloggers, and customers to tell their travel story through the different social networks like twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. For example, inviting bloggers and social media influencers before launch of a given campaign enhances the online support for a given event. Along with this, encouraging the use of a hashtag is a great way to follow your customers travels through Instagram or any other social network that supports hashtags. This is a great way to collect photographs for a contest, and to see people’s perspectives when they are traveling.
6. Use social media to generate a two-way conversations with your customers
Social media allows tourism brands to build meaningful relationships with their customers. It’s an easy tool for the audience to start that dialogue with the brand, whether it’s used to comment on the brand’s customer service or ask about the latest promotion. “Social media is built-in and is perfect for tourism.” YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are some of my most recommendable platforms for all those in the Tourism industry.
By Mwebya Fred