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by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua

Social Media – no brainer!

Social Media is a no brainer for destination marketing organisers (DMOs). Folks visit destinations all over the globe and spontaneously post and boast on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter about their experiences. They’re actually doing your work for you, for free, but adding that elusive all important ingredient of credibility and trust into the mix. If a visitor says your destination is cool then that’s infinitely more believable that saying it yourself. And visitors do it all the time. 24 | 7 | 365. All you’ve got to do is listen, engage and share. What’s not to love?

 

Except, of course, it’s not as easy as that. Those same visitors might say mean and nasty things about you or be unfair or they might highlight the very things that you’re trying to move away from. There’ll be a torrential stream of content but to channel, shape and bend it in a way that minimises the bad and maximises the good requires expertise and resources. All of a sudden it’s not so easy and free and you realise you need to bring in the specialists.

This, of course, is even more apparent when you get into the niche spaces and try to harness social media to build your brand as a MICE or Business Events destination. Now you’re seeking to connect and engage with meetings and events professionals, not visitors in general, and your messaging matrix is more filtered and targeted to that audience. So it’s all not as easy as it might appear to be on first blush!

Our Commitment to Social Media

The SoolNua crew has been highly engaged on social media since our launch in January 2014. We’re intrigued by their ability to foster and nurture relationships, to build and communicate thought leadership, to connect and engage through the sharing of meaningful content. For these outcomes alone we believe all DMOs should invest proactively in social media by – simply –  (a) having a plan and (b) implementing it. But we’ve seen, too, how there’s an advanced approach to social media whereby they get rolled up into a robust content marketing strategy using sophisticated tools and metrics developed by agencies like HubSpot. When approached in this way the return on investment is impressive indeed but then it’s decidedly not a cheap and cheerful marketing solution.

 

More than a year ago we started to measure social media activity and engagement in our own destination by publishing a weekly ranking of Ireland based #eventprofs – check it out here. We have devised a clever but secret metric that calculates scores over a number of criteria particularly Klout score and Twitter engagement. It’s hotly and good humouredly contested week after week but it does provide an objective yardstick against which to plot your commitment to social media and its relative success. It’s powered by Rise and any #eventprof in Ireland can join with her own handle or that of the company, enterprise or organisation for whom she works.

Recently we launched the Top Tweeting European CVBs and DMOs. We now have a Top 30 for EU based destination marketing organisations with more DMOs joining the board each week. We’ll cap this list at 100 so if you’re a DMO and you want to  benchmark, track and measure your social media activity and effectiveness against your peers then please join the list.

Who ranks high on the list?

It’s early days yet but even within the first couple of weeks there’s been major jostling for position and some clear outliers – see full list here. Holding limpet-like to pole position is Cork Convention Bureau  with a higher Klout score than many massively prominent and highly resourced DMOs (like London & Partners and BizEventsDenmark). Posting on average 8 tweets per day, Cork Convention Bureau also gets great engagement achieving 56 mentions and 29 retweets.

 

In 2nd spot, up 13 places from last week is Slovenia Meetings, the membership-based DMO that promotes Slovenia as a destination for meetings and events. Slovenia’s success here is no surprise as its tourist board has migrated much of its promotional activities to digital, greatly exceeding set targets for its first full year (read full story here).

Third place, up 5 spots from 8th last week, is Visit Belfast Biz, the dedicated business events channel for Visit Belfast. With a superior Klout score to Slovenia, Belfast is ranked 3rd as its activity this week was slightly less than that of Slovenia.

So Cork, Slovenia and Belfast are 1, 2 and 3 surprisingly out-ranking some major countries and cities like Germany, Denmark, London and Brussels. And herein the crucial and key benefit of social media. It allows  small destinations take on the big ones and win! By resourcing and prioritising Social Media in their marketing mix, smaller destinations like Cork, Slovenia and Belfast can get themselves heard about the general din and build reputations around content sharing and creation, relationship building and maintenance, and, most importantly, thought leadership.

A good plan consistently implemented by smart people can get your destination up the rankings and, guess what, SoolNua is on hand to help you write that plan whenever you’re ready to engage. Contact Aoife for more information.

Pádraic Gilligan, Pat Delaney and Aoife McCrum are SoolNua. We work with destinations, hotels, venues and agencies on strategy, marketing and training for MICE and Business Events. Contact us on SoolNua.com 

MICE Ireland is released every Monday and Top Tweeting DMOs is released every Friday from SoolNua Towers in Dublin 

Next Week – Padraicino’s annual Best Albums of 2016

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