It’s a big claim to say that you have the world’s biggest social media team, but I believe Tourism Australia (TA) has really done it!
Traditionally when you think about a social media team you think of internal employees of the company, but in the case of TA they have truly hit gold with their strategy! What they have decided to do is hand over the reins of their social media platforms to their user groups. Internally they only have 3 social media staff (at least with a social media title anyway). The MD of TA Andrew McEvoy explains that “Ultimately, we want our four million Facebook fans, the 23 million Australians who live here and the 6.1 million people who visited last year to become part of the world’s biggest social media team and ambassadors for our country. In tourism promotion, compelling content is king. Our job at Tourism Australia is as creator, co-creator, curator and syndicator of this content. The more operators willing and able to become part of our social media team, to share their great tourism experiences and demonstrate Australia as an aspiring travel destination, the better.”
So how have they managed to do it? Well Jesse Desjardins, the Head of Social Media at TA, has put together a Slideshare presentation that briefly outlines how they have changed from being the traditional social media strategists, to the world biggest social media team.
In their mind there are 5 steps to building the world’s biggest social media platform:
1. Creating platforms that can be built on
Instead of treating social media as a broadcasting platform, TA have moved towards using these platforms as a way to inspire and prompt conversation amongst their members and sharing of content not just from TA, but from all of the followers themselves.
They made this shift in 2011 and since then have seen massive growth in their following. Desjardins say “The possibilities are endless. When we saw the potential we quickly moved from a team that was producing static one way stories to dynamic multi angled ones co-developed with our fans.”
2. Make your advocates the hero
With 95% of content that is posted on TA’s social networks coming from their fans, they really have changed their focus to be about the users, not themselves.
The mantra that they adopt is to make their fans the hero, the Luke Skywalker, and this is what makes their fans pick up the stories and run with them. Most companies are still looking at themselves as the Luke Skywalker, the hero, which is why they are struggling to achieve the great heights that TA has.
3. Surf waves
Tourism Australia talk about how there are big waves and small waves which you need to ride. The big waves being the big issues and stories that come around every so often that may even get picked up globally and go through other media outlets – such as their December 21st post (below) responding to the end of the world theory, which resulted in over 180,000 likes, over 7,000 comments and 16,000 shares. It was also picked up by news outlets.
Small waves are more the ongoing things that happen regularly that you need to be prepared for. Things such as their weekly Friday Fan Photos, or the response you get from a specific post that may go a little more viral than expected – like their Glamping post.
Overall, you need to be prepared for this ride to take you anywhere, near or far… especially considering it’s driven by your fans!
4. Make our stories social
One of the main things that contributes to a story being picked up socially is understanding that you aren’t just talking to your fan base, but all of the connections that your fan base have. Once you understand that your pool of audience is bigger than just what is on your page, you will start to think more out of the box in the way of storytelling. Desjardins explains “The majority of our fans have already been to Australia or live here. Social allows us to put part of a story out there and say ‘here, you build on it’. If a photo gets shared ten thousand times, then there are probably ten thousand different angles to that story being told.”
Also a picture tells a thousand words, and in an industry that is so driven by experience and what you see, photos are crucial to the success of TA. This is why they have their weekly Friday Fan Photos and promote the sharing of photos as it really shows off our beautiful country the best!
5. Test & learn
The basic philosophy of test, measure and learn is something that people don’t necessarily apply to social as much as they should. It really is the perfect ground to do this. A great example is when TA launched their Google+ page. They tried to replicate what was happening on Facebook and realised that the medium and audience are different across different platforms. This lead them to a different strategy and purpose for the platform all together. Instead of focusing on shared experiences, they tried posting facts about Australia. Engagement increased and their following grew massively over the three month period following this shift. It just goes to show that if you don’t try different things, you never know the potential you are missing out on.
For the full Slideshare presentation see below.