Time marches on, the Earth keeps spinning and the world of content marketing continues to evolve. Last December, we shared our team’s content marketing observations and identified trends to guide destination marketers into 2019. As we say farewell to another year of major shifts and changes, we have our eyes fixed firmly on the future.
Here are three trends to help your destination marketing organization (DMO) enter the new decade with confidence and clarity.
Trend #1: It’s getting harder to keep up with the social media channels that matter, so evaluate new platforms carefully.
In other words, this is how to answer the question, “Should we join TikTok?”
New social media channels are constantly springing up. Some arrive in a blaze of glory and then fizzle out (Yahoo Buzz!), some endure many ups and downs (LinkedIn), and others seem to capture attention that no one realized was available (TikTok).
TikTok is a short form video-sharing service that is widely popular with Generation Z (today’s teenagers and early 20-somethings). Known for its filters, video-editing, music and emphasis on fun, it was one of the fastest growing social media platforms for 2019. TikTok was the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store and now claims 500 million active users, 41% of whom are between the ages of 16-24 (Source: Oberlo).
Curiosity about a new platform is natural, and new digital products can spark interesting conversations about audiences and engagement. But without clear criteria, content marketers are at risk of being stuck in an endless loop of chasing the newest trend.
Recommendation for DMOs:
Use these three parameters to decide whether to use a new social media platform:
Why are you using it?
It all comes back to strategy. Does the platform enable you to communicate stories about your destination to the right people, bring potential visitors along the customer journey, and facilitate meaningful discussions about your destination?
Who are the storytellers?
How will you use the platform to amplify the right stories from visitors and residents? Is your DMO’s desired audience well-defined, and how do you plan to engage those people in conversation? Does your audience already gather here, or are you hoping that they’ll join? It’s best to go where the people you seek to serve already gather. If your primary target is teenagers, and they are the best visitor for your destination, then TikTok may be worth investigating.
What resources do you have at your disposal?
Consider these questions:
- How much time and money can you invest? Is this a wise use of resources?
- Is there an opportunity cost in learning how to use the platform effectively? (i.e. Consider whether you will need to forego other tasks and priorities to spend time becoming proficient at this new task.)
- If you are adding a new platform, can you let go of something else?
- How will you know if it is a success?
Important caveat: If you do not know whether a new platform fits your DMO’s goals, you might need a destination marketing strategy. Destination Think! can help with that.
Speaking of achieving your strategic goals, we’d like to give an end-of-the-year shout out to all of Destination Think!’s incredible clients across the world. Here’s a snapshot of our projects from 2019, from campaigns and always-on content marketing to Place DNA™, niche development, brand identity and more.
Trend #2: Privacy concerns and news-cycle fatigue continue to change behaviour on Facebook
High profile incidents of Facebook data breaches, the sale of personal data, and the manipulation of News Feed ads for political gain have left many users feeling a profound sense of mistrust and frustration. Since 2016, there has been a huge amount of discussion about how polarizing and divisive Facebook and other online tools can be. On top of this, the pressure to perfect an ideal outward image of curated highlights has left many people less likely to share and engage publicly as often as they once did. Younger audiences, in particular, trend towards sharing in more contained and defined spaces, such as groups or curated close-friends lists.
In response to these shifts in public opinion, Facebook changed its algorithm to favour “meaningful interactions” with friends and family and return to the valued connection that drew people to the platform in the first place. This algorithm change was also an attempt to clean up newsfeeds and remove lower-quality content.
Recommendation for DMOs:
- As content marketers, be attentive to where your fans are gathering. Think about what motivates your destination’s most passionate advocates. What fuels their passion for a place or activity, and how does the social media platform help them live it out? How do they choose to interact with one another? What value do they get from your DMO’s content and the stories you share from the community?
- While it is important to keep abreast of Facebook’s actions, changing public perception, and user behaviour, this shift highlights several content marketing best practices that destination marketers need to be aligned with already.
- Publish your content and information where it makes the most sense. The goal is to serve your target audience where they are gathering. Plenty of people still use Facebook, even if younger generations are active elsewhere.
- Create quality content that you can adapt to different platforms. This is both time- and cost-effective.
- Understand that content marketers do not control or own the platforms we use. Consistently testing and trialling to see what your audience finds the most valuable is a better confidence check than chasing trends and algorithms.
Download our DMO trend guide: Why Facebook groups and passionate communities make niche marketing mandatory to learn more about this shift in user behaviour.
Trend #3: Influence for influence’s sake is no longer enough.
There is more to social media influencers than their follower count, and serious questions about authenticity and transparency have led to increasing skepticism and criticism from audiences. Beyond headline-grabbing scandals like Fyre Fest or Natalie Schlater, more and more people are beginning to ask questions:
- Is this product or experience real and attainable without serious economic and social capital?
- Is this lifestyle realistic? Is it something we should even aspire to?
- Is this experience sustainable? How does it impact the environment, the destination, and the local quality of life?
- Did they do it for the likes, or do they actually enjoy this experience?
Recommendation for DMOs:
- Develop long-lasting relationships with influencers that demonstrate a genuine commitment and alignment with your destination and destination experiences.
- Place more importance on topic expertise and less on follower count. Micro-influencers, defined as influencer accounts with under 100,000 followers, focus on a specific niche and are generally regarded as topic specialists. More importantly, micro-influencers have been shown to have stronger relationships with their followers, which reflects a level of trust.
Destination Think!’s agency and consultancy bring unparalleled international expertise to address today’s top destination marketing challenges. Contact our team.
This post shares insights from Destination Think!’s content marketing team, which includes David Archer, Diamond Coleman, Katie Shriner, Kelly Cubbon and Sara Raymond.