(Second in a series – the first post is about no budget destination marketing on YouTube and Pinterest.)
Sometimes your budget is cut and there’s just no money for ads, or not as much as there used to be.
Sometimes you have a budget, but if you’re like me, it is galling to spend money unless you HAVE to, so you’re looking for ways to get more organic, unpaid reach on social media.
Where could you make some no cost destination marketing improvements that would result in more visitors, guests, or customers finding you?
Let’s talk about two social platforms that many brands have been on for years, but which may have lost some of their initial effectiveness: Twitter and Facebook.
Best no-cost marketing moves to make on Twitter
I’ve watched a lot of changes on Twitter since I joined in September 2007 as @SheilaS.
The things that I enjoy the most – community and unexpected connections – are still possible, but it is definitely harder to make yourself heard above the noise. Using Twitter as merely another channel to broadcast and crank out prescheduled tweets all day is not going to work for you any more. Most tweets die a quick death in the flood going past.
It is still the place to be, though, for breaking news and making media connections.
Twitter is also heavily used for customer and visitor services – answering tweeted questions, fixing problems, making suggestions, introducing people to other people, etc.
It costs you nothing to do these three things right away to get more out of Twitter:
1.) Participate in some relevant Twitter chats.
My favorite suggestion for getting the maximum value out of Twitter in a short time is by participating in the Twitter chats where your potential visitors, guests, and customers spend time.
A Twitter chat is a set time frame (normally one hour, sometimes less) when people gather on Twitter for a live discussion around a particular topic. They can be regularly scheduled, or one-off events.
Each tweet includes the chat hashtag, so if you do a search on that hashtag, all related tweets can be grouped together and you can follow the conversation.
Here is our list of travel and tourism Twitter chats over on Tourism Currents.
Twitter chats introduce you to new people, who often become new followers and new connections. Most importantly, they give you a chance to show your expertise and helpfulness as a destination, attraction, hotel, or tourism partner business.
2.) Actively engage with followers and others on Twitter, especially when they tag you or use your brand hashtag.
Many of you are saying right now, “No kidding, this advice is way too basic.”
Let me assure you, I am actually MORE surprised when a destination responds promptly to me on Twitter than I am when I’m ignored, which is usually.
Yes, even though you’d think brands would be a lot better at social media engagement by now.
When visitors need assistance, do you tweet back with relevant links to your website pages or blog posts?
If they ask for a local coffee shop recommendation in a certain neighborhood, do you tag the Twitter accounts of good coffee places in your reply tweet?
Match your excellent offline visitor experience with a friendly, helpful online experience. The result is a more engaged, loyal visitor.
Take Twitter interactions seriously, and your Twitter account will be a lot more effective. It’s that simple.
Another way to improve engagement is to tweet during the hours when your account’s followers are most likely to be active on Twitter. Talk to people when they are there to listen.
In addition to Twitter’s own free analytics data, I use a free Followerwonk account to analyze my account followers, particularly to see their locations and the hours when they are most active on Twitter.
Remember to schedule posts for different time zones, too, especially if you have an international audience. If you don’t want to be up in the middle of the night, pre-schedule those tweets.
I use TweetDeck for all things Twitter, including pre-scheduling. It is free.
An often overlooked tool is Twitter Lists. They can be private or public. Use them to zero in on the people whose tweets you don’t want to miss – you can follow just the tweets from a certain List and really cut down on the clutter.
They’re also great for keeping track of partners on Twitter, like these Lists set up by the Appalachia Sustainable Tourism Collaboration, LLC.
Once someone mentions your destination, or follows/interacts with you on Twitter, have a process for further engagement. This could include adding them to a private Twitter List of prospects or particularly enthusiastic informal ambassadors, or offering special deals only to your followers.
3.) Hashtags. Just a few of the right ones.
Hashtags let you group topical tweets all in one searchable place. Sometimes certain hashtags trend on Twitter and get a lot of attention, which might be an opportunity for you IF you have relevant thoughts to add.
Easiest way to start using a hashtag that might put you in front of the right prospective visitors? Participate in the “hashtag of the day:”
- #MusicMonday or #MountainMonday
- #WineWednesday or #WaterfallWednesday
- #TBT (the very popular Throwback Thursday)
- #FridayFunday or #FoodieFriday
- #SaturdayNight or #SaturdayShopping
- #SS or #SelfieSunday or #SelfCareSunday
You don’t want a wad of hashtags on a tweet, like you tend to see on Instagram. One to three of them is usually enough.
Best no-cost marketing moves to make on Facebook
No question, it is very tough for many brand Pages to get attention and engagement on Facebook any more, without paying money for Sponsored posts or ads. That said, it is the one social platform where most people across all interests and demographics have accounts, so you need to be there and be active.
It costs you nothing to do these three things right away to get more out of your Facebook Page:
1.) Commit to a weekly video post.
As of this writing, the one sort of content that can jump you to the top of follower News Feeds is video, especially Facebook Live video.
If you can, try to plan for one video Page post per week. This is assuming you’re already posting once a day most days of the week, or at least three to five times per week. Much less than that is not enough to get people’s attention.
Start with the top 10 questions people ask about your destination, attraction, hotel, or business, and answer them via video. That’s 10 weeks of video content right there.
Make sure you repurpose those videos on your YouTube channel, and embed them in your blog posts that answer each of those questions. This can bring you evergreen traffic for years. To grab a Facebook video for repurposing, go to Facebook Page Videos —-> Video Library —-> then click on the video you want. Look up to the “three dots” dropdown options, and select Download video.
If you’re comfortable going live, make sure you tell people about it ahead of time; a Facebook Event is an easy way to do that.
2.) Consider whether a Facebook Group might help your engagement.
A private Facebook Group for your tourism, Main Street, or Chamber partners, or for visitors and local enthusiasts, can give you a “walled garden” to have some great discussions. Group members often get push notifications about Group activity.
It is a place to openly share ideas, get feedback (try polls,) do some visitor research, explain best practices, ask questions, and get answers. It can be invaluable in crisis management situations as well.
They are NOT “set it up, then it will run itself and be awesome.” Building and maintaining a lively private Facebook Group takes a bit of work, both in the short term to get it going, and in the long term to maintain interest and usefulness.
Until you get a critical mass of enthusiastic, talkative participants who will help carry the Group and bring value, you will need to seed questions and start/nurture conversations yourself as the Group Admin. This takes planning, like any content.
3.) Use every (free) trick in the book for more visibility and engagement.
The key to success is posting content that your followers will like, comment on, and share (telling Facebook’s algorithm to show it in even more people’s News Feeds) and posting it at the right time.
** How do you know what sorts of posts followers like? Know your audience through your Page Insights.
Review your posts to see which ones got the most engagement and reach, then try to do more posts like those (as long as they fit your audience and marketing goals.) To find that information, go to your Page’s Insights —> Posts on the left sidebar —> All Posts Published. Look at each post’s reach and engagement.
For some general guidance and inspiration, BuzzSumo analyzed billions of Facebook posts and found that the most popular/viral types of Facebook content were:
- Practical Hacks
- Inspirational content
- Food and recipes
- Cute animals
- Music videos
- Travel and Adventure
Obviously, make sure your posts fit your audience and marketing goals. Do not post “cute animals” stuff unless it makes sense for YOU. As a destination, for example, you could get away with doing that in a post featuring your local dog parks, to show visitors where they can go to walk their pups.
** How do you know the right time to post? Know your audience through your Page Insights.
Make sure you post during the times when your Page followers are most likely to be active on Facebook. It varies for each day of the week, and for each Page. To find that information, go to your Page’s Insights —> Posts on the left sidebar —> When Your Fans Are Online.
Mouse across each day to see how the peak times change.
That said, occasionally post away from peak times, when things are less noisy online. Don’t forget weekends; late morning on Saturday and Sunday are great for a couple of Pages that I manage, but it all depends on YOUR data.
Also encourage your followers to use their Follow Settings to change your Page to one of their Favorites (formerly “See First”) rather than Default, so that your posts appear at the top of their News Feed. This feature is free. Here’s where to find it…
Final reminder: you and your staff (if you are comfortable doing so) can invite people in your personal Facebook networks to follow your Page. It is free. Use this feature with discretion and don’t be a spammer. Only invite people who might actually be interested in your Page activity.
You don’t want “a bunch of followers,” you want “a bunch of followers who care about what you offer.”
And you don’t want to spend money for any of it, either. 😉
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