Don’t worry, this isn’t another list of New Year’s resolutions. But times are changing. Since our business is 100% focused on tourism destinations, it’s our job to stay on top of the most effective ways to build engaging advocacy and positive word of mouth.
Our elite squad of content marketers gathered to reflect on some of the most interesting trends affecting your destination’s content marketers as we head into 2019. Here’s what your team needs to know.
1. IGTV and Instagram Stories are taking more of your visitors’ attention
“The shift in how people are using Instagram should not be underestimated;
There’s not another platform that has really changed how people are viewing content.”
-Katie Shriner, Marketing Manager at Destination Think!
Instagram Stories launched in August 2016 with the aim of making smartphone sharing easier for an increasingly mobile user base. And it’s working.
According to research by Block Party, Stories grew 11 times faster than Feed posts last year alone and comprise 47% of all Instagram content by major brands. The creation and consumption of Stories has grown by 842% since 2016. This is a big deal.
Unlike other platforms, Instagram is effectively changing the way people view content within their network, from a feed dominated by square images to full-screen vertical video. And the introduction of IGTV only furthers the platform’s commitment to the change. This and Stories are drawing more eyes – and engagement – away from the main feed and toward content at the top of the screen. As visual communication becomes even more integral to social media, Stories will soon outperform the news feeds of Facebook and Instagram in terms of both engagement and growth.
This means that more destination marketers will need to build a strong plan around Stories in 2019.
Our content marketing team has already begun to put this into practice. For example, Destination Campbell River uses Instagram’s Highlighted Stories feature to help visitors plan their trips by offering useful, evergreen content in a similar way to the DMO’s website. Key information about local tourism operators and FAQs make this a valuable resource. For best results, Highlighted Stories often have a higher production value than the more casual, candid Stories posted from day to day.
These screenshots show Destination Campbell River’s Instagram profile page (L), followed by two of the screens under the highlighted story called FAQ.
The bottom line: Instagram Stories and IGTV are dominating the fight for users’ attention. They provide a good opportunity for you to help visitors find both the inspiration and the information they need to plan their next trip.
2. Constantly changing algorithms are a moving target for content publishers
Okay, this isn’t new, but it’s worth the reminder. Social media platforms change their algorithms all the time in hopes of bettering the user experience (and increasing ad revenue). Little tweaks here and there change what people see, when they see it and how often. And while these changes also change the results of your destination marketing organization (DMO)’s content, it’s not necessarily a cause for concern.
The first thing to know is that algorithm changes affect social media engagement for all DMOs and brands equally. Having worked with destination marketers since the dawn of social media, our team has some advice as you work to maintain strong engagement numbers.
What can your DMO do about it?
- Don’t chase algorithms. But ask why you are invested in social media and what you hope to achieve.
- With word-of-mouth advocacy as your main priority, focus on delivering useful, relevant and appealing content to your audience.
- Consider the larger trends that are driving changes to social media platforms before leaping to conclusions about the performance of your content.
- Learn the content marketing principles that transcend algorithms and platforms.
- If needed, consider a strategy that diversifies your channels. Explore the possibility that your specific audience lives elsewhere and these changes don’t necessarily mean your audience isn’t interested in your destination—only that they’re using the internet differently than they used to. Don’t be afraid to meet them where they are.
This year, Destination Think! has helped DMOs from Auckland to Ottawa adapt to today’s challenges. Here’s a snapshot of this year’s projects, ranging from campaigns and content marketing to place branding and tourism master plans.
3) Micro-influencers and nano-influencers are on the rise
If one thing is certain in 2019, it’s that almost anyone can become a media company.
The influencer industry – on Instagram, at least – began as brands hired people with enormous followings, like @laurenepbath (“Australia’s first professional Instagrammer,” circa 2014, 452k followers and counting). Those with massive audiences are attractive to brands in the same way that TV commercials are; lots of people are watching.
However, more brands are beginning to realize that just because influence is for sale, doesn’t mean it’s effective. Destination marketing is no different; success rests on positive word of mouth and advocacy about the tourism experience. In other words, the right people are hearing the right stories. Today, this means digging into visitors’ specific passions – the interests they would travel for.
Meanwhile, and partly in response, the influencer market is becoming ever-more niche. Brands are hiring Instagrammers with ever-smaller audiences – even as few as 1,000 followers, dubbed nano-influencers. After all, word of mouth influences purchasing decisions through trusted relationships and personal networks, which don’t require a huge audience.
Where does this leave destination marketers?
As more and more people seek to leverage their online influence, it can be difficult to sort through the requests coming to the DMO. Our team works with trusted influencers on a regular basis and has noticed that common trends are emerging as the industry matures. High-quality influencers for destinations:
- Tend to do fewer projects per year,
- Choose projects that match their audience’s greatest passions,
- Build an ongoing relationship with destinations.
More fundamentally, DMOs need to ask themselves why they want to work with an influencer and what they hope to achieve. The debate continues about the true economic value that social media influencers can provide. But in 2019, we look forward to seeing more destination brands partner with people of influence who have proven themselves reliable and focused on fulfilling the passions of their travelling audiences.
This post shares insights from Destination Think!’s content marketing team, which includes David Archer, Diamond Coleman, Katie Shriner, Kelly Cubbon and Sara Raymond.
Destination Think!’s agency and consultancy bring unparalleled international expertise to address today’s top destination marketing challenges. Contact our team.