An event like the Olympics makes all media, including social media, light up like a Christmas Tree. Everybody’s talking about it, and that’s exactly what we want. Instead of adding to the noise, our strategy for social media during the games focussed on supporting and encouraging key influencers while leveraging our own network.
Tourism in BC related social media volume during February
Social media is the largest focus group out there so we treat it as a huge research opportunity. Data has been collected and will be analyzed. We’ve also used our monitoring tools to provide insights to our media, SEM Field Reporters and content teams. This enabled us to quickly respond to unexpected stories.
After the games, we can look at the data to identify what resonated about Vancouver and BC as a destination, potential new markets or product opportunities and key influencers in social media for future engagement.
Assisting and encouraging key influencers
Working with key influencers is a lot like working with travel media professionals (with a twist) especially since many traditional travel media have their own blogs. But there are also pure social media influencers, including local bloggers, athlete tweeters, etc. Jose from our online team has been working closely with our Travel Media team to coordinate efforts.
Building our community
We used the pre-Olympics to experiment with running contests on Twitter. We managed to more than triple our number of followers by giving away some Olympic tickets. We were wondering if people would leave right after, but they didn’t and instead are engaging with Karen, our tweeter extraordinaire, and re-tweeting our messages to their networks.
As an added bonus, our contest winners have been tweeting and blogging about their experiences and traveled around with our Field Reporters.
Engaging our community
Facebook fans and Twitter followers are a diverse group of BC residents, past visitors, tourism industry stakeholders and people who would like to visit. During the games, we tweeted information about the games, general trip ideas based on what was being talked about and re-tweeted messages from others. URLS’s were being tracked and during the games period, drove almost 50,000 visitors to our website.
Karen set up searches in Tweetdeck to filter people who expressed an interest in visiting and started the conversation to make the trip a reality leading to wonderful conversations, new followers and hopefully visitors soon.
Lifepoints is a Facebook application where you get points for your life experiences. Points are based on how people have rated each experience. Compete with your friends for who gets the most out of life and create your own bucketlist by ‘wanting’ things. A natural fit with tourism so we’re running a campaign with Lifepoints to highlight some of the great experiences British Columbia has to offer and promote our contest.
And of course we wanted to capture the excitement of the games through our Field Reporters. They’ve been all over town, and the rest of the province, to capture the Olympic vibe, the reactions from spectators, athletes and celebrities, against the backdrop of the destination.
To maximize the games, there’s a role for advertising as well. A TV commercial was produced to build the destination brand and also serves as the call to action for people watching the games and make sure consumers know where to go for more info and start the trip planning process. Consumers in the US and Canada are encouraged to visit HelloBC.com with the help of BC born celebrities (more about the commercial here).
The purpose of our online ads is not to just get people on our website, but do something very specific; grow our consumer database. The ads have a contest as a call-to-action where they can win a trip to BC this summer.
Tomorrow: our full strategy to leverage the games to grow our consumer database
The Torch Relay is a great event to connect people with the games across the country. A perfect vehicle to extend the exposure beyond Vancouver and showcase all of British Columbia around the world.
But like pretty much anything else related to games, access is tough when you’re not a sponsor or accredited media. About a year ago we worked out a partnership with Coca-Cola to cover every day of the Torch Relay in BC, and key cities across Canada through an extended partnership with the Canadian Tourism Commission. That gave us the access we needed.
One of our star Field Reporters Chris Wheeler was up for the challenge and on October 30 last year he started the 106 day journey. With the support from Jose and Mike in our Tourism BC office, and Paul Clark and our regional offices on the road, he created 25 videos in BC and 11 in the rest of Canada. The formula was to use the Torch Relay as a continuing plot-line and highlight specific experiences in the area or community the flame visited that day. You follow the flame, and also see what makes the area great.
The videos are a great success for all partners; awesome stories, tens of thousands of views (almost 300,000 as of Feb 14), great response from the local communities and some great learning for the future. Check out the YouTube channel or our fancy HelloBC Torch Relay page.
In less than five minutes you will understand why social media works best when rallying a community behind a common cause, how trying to control the message is of the past, and accepting the wisdom of the crowd can help you achieve your goals, even if this wisdom might seem ridiculous.
Clay Shirky’s powerful presentation at TED earlier this year will combat any Social Media sceptic you might have to deal with in your organization. Do you have key business decission makers who don’t even have a Facebook account, or marketing teams who think Social Media is just another way to broadcast advertising or something viral? In that case, this presentation will explain in 17 minutes that the future of marketing isn’t broadcast but collaboration with your networks of consumers and stakeholders.
Bran Ferren is the CEO of Applied Minds and the former president of Walt Disney Imagineering, Disney’s R&D division. This lecture is almost 2 hours long and it is very good. While watching this lecture, I put together another piece of the puzzle that reveals the process and methodology we use with Tourism BC’s online team and Rob Munro’s team at technology partner T4G.
My interpretation of Bran’s argument is that there are two types of people; the requirement thinkers and the big idea thinkers. Requirement thinkers are driven by process, documentation and figuring it all out before you start. Big idea thinkers are visionaries, innovators and driven to make things better. To achieve excellence, you need diverse talent and constructive tension to generate a vision, and an aligned team who’re great at implementing using a requirement process but are comfortable with continued evolution. Sounds a lot like our team.
I also like his statement that “consensus based management is the most evil process for destroying innovation I can think off“. I don’t disagree. Although desirable, it often leads to mediocrity or an insane waste of time.
The part I’m referring to runs from minute 24:30 til minute 46:00. There’s more great stuff, you have to watch it.
In another article I found Bran said: “Big-idea companies are run by passionate maniacs who make everybody’s life miserable until they get what they want.”
Guilty as charged. Sort-off.
Chris Wheeler is our Torch Relay Field Reporter. He will travel with the torch throughout BC and Canada and document the relay, the celebrations while showing off the amazing places the torch passes.
One of our objectives for leveraging the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is maximizing exposure surrounding the games for all of British Columbia and Canada. And the Torch Relay is a perfect way to do so.
Big kudos to Chris, the Tourism BC team (Paul, Jose and Mike in particular) and our regional staff for doing an amazing job and bringing the vision to life.
Chris will product a video for every day the Torch is in British Columbia and key places throughout Canada.
Last year, I posted about our online video strategy. It’s been one exciting year. Ten field reporters have created more than 120 videos. With an average time of 3 minutes per video, it’s the equivalent of 4 feature films! Videos are posted on YouTube, our blogs, and they’re incorporated into the appropriate places of the website. In less than a year, our field reporters are approaching 200,000 views.
That alone is enough reason to call these videos a success. But I think the most interesting piece is the way we’re extending our Field Reporter program and leveraging the long tail. Tourism BC can never create videos for every place, event and activity in British Columbia.
Our Field Reporter videos are cost-effective. It’s a one person operation. The host also operates the camera and does the editing. Producing videos is no longer a big budget operation.
That means they’re affordable for smaller destinations and tourism businesses. So we’ve made our Field Reporters available for our industry. We’ve taken care of the process and format of the video. All the industry has to do is pay the Field Reporter and the videos can be used as any other on YouTube and HelloBC, but also on the DMO or operator website.
This concept is working well and a good example of using a collaberative approach to online marketing between a DMO and it’s industry.
The video above was created by Chris on behalf ot Tourism Nanaimo.
This video is created by Ivan on behalf of Canadian Mountain Holidays.
More about our Field Report program soon…
A few weeks ago I posted about our call for video field reporters. I also promised more details. Here we go.
Our video strategy is multi-faceted based on the opportunities that are currently available. Some are traditional and some are new. But they’ll all work together in a framework.
Let’s first examine the types of tourism related videos out there.
First, there’s the destination video. Emotional music, breathtaking scenery, friendly people, incredible experiences. The intent is to create a strong emotional connection with somebody. The content include all the core brand attributes and the target audience enjoying them. These videos are often used at consumer and/or tradeshows and most destinations have put these videos on their websites and video networks such as YouTube.
Destination Marketing Organization’s TV commercials are often a mini version of the destination video. Sometimes, they include a touch of humour or clever creative, like this video from Utah. But they always include all the core brand tributes again. Watch the Utah commercial and you know what they market and who they market to. Often there’s a call to action to visit a website, a fulfillment piece (guide) or a price point (often through a trade partner).
Then there are the travel host videos, as you will find on travel shows on TV. A host visits a destination and documents some of his or her experience in an informal documentary style. Usually all the “must sees” are covered. Sometimes, if it’s a special interest show, a specific experience is covered.
New on the scene are DMO created documentaries. These highlight a specific iconic experience of a destination. Often, there’s also a host involved and it’s informative and specific to an iconic experience.
And there are the user generated videos of course. Nothing is more credible than real experiences from real people. The amazing video above was the winner of the best user generated video at the eTourism awards last year.
Each type of video has a specific purpose. From creating awareness through creating an emotional connection, to real and authentic experiences that makes somebody think “I can be part of this story”. We’re currently in the process of creating a new destination video, TV commercials and documentaries. We’re also encouraging consumers to share their videos with us on our blog section.
But what’s interesting is that we believe there’s room for an additional category, a variation of the travel host, with a user generated content feel. We call these “field reporter” videos. Last year we experimented with this concept.
The video above is one of our ski host video. The intent of the video was to create an authentic video but still hit on the core brand message. The result was positive. Chris did a great job and consumers responded positvice, but our key learning was that we created something that felt a bit off. It didn’t feel authentic, and it wasn’t a slick documentary either.
Together for our agency (Cossette Communication Group) we re-defined the video host concept and renamed it to “field reporters”. The idea was to hire 6 people who with good personalities who can handle a video camera. We would send them out into all corners of BC and document their experiences. In order to make it authentic, they have to find somebody and ask for a recommendation. After the recommendation, they need to follow through and document their experience. Nothing planned, nothing staged. They had to be host, camera person and editor. We did add our logo at the beginning of each video to be transparent that we asked these people to create these videos.
And that’s what we’ve done over the last month. We found 7 very talented individuals and send each one to each of our 6 tourism regions, and one on a circle tour on his motorbike. We did give each a list of “iconic” tourism products so they had an idea what was going on in the area. They all made 5-7 videos each. We will use these videos on HelloBC to complement our existing content.
Below is a sample.
Here’s Chris climbing the Squamish Chief.
Ivan visited Bella Coola, and found a first nation person to take him to old Petroglyphs.
Kelli visited the Thompson Okanagan and hiked the Kettle Valley trail.
Mike visited the Kootenay Rockies and was told to visit Fort Steele and the Bull River Guest Ranch near Cranbrook.
Ami was told to take a train ride from Prince Rupert to Prince George through Northern British Columbia.
And Gary rode the Coast Cariboo Circle Tour his motor bike.
We’re also encouraging our staff, communities and industry to create their own videos. It’s easy enough to do. All you need is a video camera and some video editing software.
Some have already taken us up on the challenge. Clint from our Norther BC region create the video above.
And here’s our online team member Mikala’s visit to a farmers market
By posting these videos on our blog, hopefully we’ll even inspire some BC residents and our travelers to give our their tips and insider information. The intent is to get many video’s capturing the diverse range of tourism experiences throughout the province. We will still use the destination video and professionally produced documentaries to get people excited, and the videos created by field reporters, industry, communities, staff and user will capture the details.
To watch all field reporter videos, keep an eye on Tourism BC’s YouTube channel and our Field Reporter playlist. Our field reporters are still editing some of their videos, so more will be added soon.
I was supposed to present with Richard Kunz from T4G, our technology solutions provider, at Online Revealed Caribbean. I couldn’t go unfortunately but Richard interviewed me and incorporated some of the footage in his presentation. I received some good feedback so I decided to put the whole interview online.
We discussed Web 2.0, user generated content, social networks and one-to-one marketing for Destination Marketing Organizations and the tourism industry. I shared some of the things we’re working with T4G on to provide more relevancy to individual consumers on a mass scale.
Richard and I will hopefully be at the next Online Revealed Canada in Niagara Falls on April 13-15.