Are you missing out on an opportunity for some mainstream media coverage?
A Guardian travel journalist recently told me it's incredibly hard for them to find good UK tourism stories for publications such as the weekend supplements.
Yes I know! Hard to imagine!
Most tourism businesses want free coverage in credible publications. So why is it hard for journalists to feature you?
The problem is: journalists love anything that is new or different. And yet, new businesses are often so focused on getting ready, they fail to tell people what they’re doing. Or do so when they're no longer new so they miss out on initial publicity.
Those of you who have had your business for a while are probably thinking you need a shiny new building to justify a mention in a newspaper story. Not so.
Journalists want something that sounds new. It doesn’t have to be an expensive building. It could just be a new package, a new angle, a new experience. Sometimes it’s just a question of being imaginative. Developing something that appeals to a niche market is bizarrely appealing to mass media.
I remember a BBC Radio 4 programme and several press articles about a hotel that offered chances to play scrabble with strangers.
Another example was an agency set up in Germany to offer holidays for people who were suffering from some sort of heart-break. Maybe they really did, maybe they didn’t. As far as the media were concerned, they just wanted to be able to write about something new and different.
So the message is clear: the media want stories, you want media coverage - you just need to dream up a clever idea that sounds new! Simple...
Which-ever social media you use, at first you may feel like you're posting without getting any responses or any new followers.
If you don't have that many followers, how can you get more?
How can you make sure your posts are seen?
How can you engage people on social media and actually interest them in what you do?
Building a good number of followers is important but don't get too hung up on the idea of social media being a 'numbers game'.
You need enough followers to make it worthwhile, but the thing that determines effectiveness is engagement. And engagement affects whether your posts are seen, and how easy you'll find it to build follower numbers... it's all bound up together.
Just to be clear, what do we mean by engagement?
Engagement will depend on the social media channel but generally means getting a follower to do something. This could be as simple as liking a post. It could mean clicking on a link. The best engagement is that which shows a little more effort, such as commenting on a post, or sharing a post with a comment.
Why does engagement matter?
There are now so many social media posts, not every post will be seen by every follower. There are just too many. So social media algorithms have been developed to show followers the posts they're most likely to want to see.
Let's take facebook as an example. You may have followers who were initially interested enough to 'like' your business page, but they were 'lurkers', never bothering to like any posts, comment or share them. Over time your posts are less likely to be shown (by facebook) to that follower.
If few people like, share & comment (engage) with your posts, facebook will think (via its algorithm) that your posts aren't worth seeing and will show them to fewer and fewer people.
You need to encourage engagement so your posts are seen, but also to build followers. You need your followers to share your posts and spread the word - that's the power of social media.
How can you increase engagement?
Think of it like any other interaction with people, perhaps at a party. If you're dull, rarely interact (or post), say something irrelevant, are overly 'salesy', never ask questions of other people, or never comment on what they have to say - the other people will ignore you and go away. If you are interesting, relevant, generous, positive, you'll have lots of friends...
This isn't to say you shouldn't sell. You should. For many, that's the whole point of social media. But you need to do it carefully. You could use a simple posting rule such as out of every three posts: make one a general, helpful one; make one a sales one; make one about someone or something else so you're being more generous.
It can be easier to increase engagement with a relatively small number of followers. Businesses with huge follower numbers are often less good at engaging so over time the impact of their posts diminishes even if they appear to have a big follower circle.
How to increase followers
1. Share other people’s (choose people with lots of followers) posts more – but make sure you add comments, don’t just share so people see you being pro-active and positive.
2. Tag people in on posts e.g. with their facebook names @+facebook name so they can see you’re mentioning them – write posts about other businesses and the local area
3. Ask some friends, relatives, neighbours to comments and share on your posts – that helps to show engagement initially and can increase places your posts are seen
Free tourism marketing advice
Please note: all articles are copyrighted Susan Briggs