Why UGC is the future of social media in travel and tourism marketing. It can work if you have a great creative idea, a sizeable existing audience and a brand that people want to engage with. Despite this, there are those that would have you believe that UGC is the future of social media for all brands. In my very first PR job I was eager to get the agency’s high profile tourist board, airline, tour operator and hotel clients on Facebook and Twitter because it made total logical sense to me. By encouraging a community in a set locality, you run the risk of creating a bubble — residents and existing fans that are great at sharing and interacting with each other, but not with a wider audience. If you’re marketing a destination, try to remember people love the destination, not the tourism department’s brand. It’s not a standalone social thing. The UGC tech vendors I mentioned earlier are all about pulling UGC into advertising and ecommerce platforms and this is where the approach can really take off, when it’s not just a simple tactic for growing an Instagram community and nothing more. Play to other trends. This both played to a trend, and turned the UGC into more than just a tactic — it became material to share with media, and for visitors to use as a resource.
Relying on user generated content (UGC) in social media marketing can be a gamble.
It can work if you have a great creative idea, a sizeable existing audience and a brand that people want to engage with.
But if you’re lacking any one of these elements, you could find it’s a steep hill to climb.
Despite this, there are those that would have you believe that UGC is the future of social media for all brands.
There are a number of tech vendors in the space that have made it their raison d’etre – Olapic, Duel and Chute are all examples I’ve come across.
These vendors seem to be gaining most traction in fashion and commerce, where UGC makes total sense. As a potential customer, seeing other customers trying on clothes adds authenticity.
But there’s another sector for which I think UGC is an even more ideal fit, and where we’ll see it really explode over the next year or so — travel.
As someone who cut his teeth specialising in travel, I’m very aware that the use of UGC in the industry is not new.
In my very first PR job I was eager to get the agency’s high profile tourist board, airline, tour operator and hotel clients on Facebook and Twitter because it made total logical sense to me.
Particularly in the case of a tourist board, you’ve automatically got a large bank of advocates — your ‘customers’ (visitors) are more likely to be enthusiastically sharing via social, but you’ve got residents too.
No one sells New York better than New Yorkers, London than Londoners or Azerbaijan than Azerbaijanis.
In the relatively early days of Facebook marketing back in 2008 one of the most successful initiatives I ever implemented was a simple open album on a tourist board client’s Facebook page.
People living or visiting the region would more than happily upload their shots, and we would share the best on the main feed, with that content often being far better received than the more polished official tourist board stuff.
Landscapes to fit
Nearly nine years later and technology has evolved to make this easier to do at even greater scale.
I recently attended a great event as part of Bristol’s recent inaugural Social Media Week with VisitBritain at which I heard that the brand’s social media plans for the coming year centred around Instagram and the hashtag #OMGB (oh my Great Britain) — encouraging people to use it on their uploads, from which the brand handpicks the best to share on its official feed.
Startlingly simple, but effective. It’s easy to see why this is increasingly becoming the approach for destinations worldwide.