In today’s digital world you’ve probably already dipped your toes into “social waters”. But, asks Suzy Knauf, have you mastered the art of moving that audience into action at your park or attraction?
The brands that are most successful in their social media efforts all have one thing in common, highly engaging content. For all of us in the attraction industry the ultimate goal with social media is to increase brand awareness, drive fan/follower acquisition and maintain consumer loyalty whilst stimulating revenue growth.
It is critical to develop an engaging, multi-channel social media campaign plan of action for your attraction and, with an abundance of social networks available, it’s also important to determine which sites will be most effective for your brand.
In marketing we use three terms to break down fan and follower levels within social spaces. Joiners are users that participate in your social spaces but don’t necessarily help spread the word about it beyond their own interaction. Examples of this include ‘liking’ a Facebook post, redeeming a coupon from your blog or ’favouriting’ a Twitter update. Sharers are users that participate and then spread the word about it by electing to share it within their network. Then there are the Advocates who participate, share and have enough clout within their network to influence friends and family to convert and participate as well. All three levels are important, however it’s the Sharers and Advocates that generate the most earned media, highest engagement and word of mouth endorsements that achieve extended awareness for your venue and brand.
We all want to turn our followers into fans, fans into advocates and our advocates into influencers and purchasers who are not just engaging online but hopefully energising your bottom line. The key is to create a strategy that allows you to post content in line with your park’s voice and that is relevant to your audience. There are many rules of thumb to consider when developing an effective social media strategy:
Post regularly and be consistent. It is recommended that a brand should post new content at least once a day and monitor its social media sites as frequently as possible. Keep in mind you should use every available opportunity to fuel interactions with a clear call-to-action. Relying on your fans and followers to “like”, retweet, share, re-pin or comment on your posts without asking them to do so can lead to less than favourable results.
Include images whenever possible. Due to the popularity of images, there are several primarily visual social networks that are gaining steam such as Pinterest and Instagram. Also, Facebook’s timeline layout places great emphasis on visuals so brands can use this to their advantage by including an image in posts whenever possible. Construction updates at this time of year are a great idea.
Be genuine. Always ask questions and solicit opinions. Go beyond pushing price points and sales post and write content that is proven to engage fans and followers. If you’re unsure how to gauge whether or not your posts are too sales focused, stick with the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your messages should be non-sales related while the remaining 20% should push a special event, offer or price point.
Highlight people and special guests. When a celebrity visits your park, scheduled or not, take pictures of them and promote the event on all of your social networks. But it doesn’t always have to be the obvious big names. The same goes for local personalities, on-air DJs and news anchors, as well as school groups and charitable organisations. If necessary, wait until after they leave your park to post it with a short message thanking them for their visit.
Keep posts seasonally relevant. A major benefit of social media is that it allows us instant interactions with consumers and potential customers. However, posts get stale very quickly which is why brand messages need to be continuously refreshed with content that is crafted around current events. No one wants to read about your Halloween season in February!
Create innovative social campaigns such as giveaways, photo or video contests, trivia, quizzes or discount offers. Depending on the setup of your promotion, many of these campaigns allow you to increase conversions and sales, track your return on investment and build brand awareness. These types of social campaigns can help drive traffic to your website as well as your social media pages and boost the amount of time users spend on those sites.
Presently, a level of engagement from brands is required that has never been seen before. The information you stand to gain by listening and interacting with your social communities is invaluable. With empowered customers sharing the marketing stage brands risk more when they disengage, but they also stand to gain tremendously when they actively participate in social media. So get online … it’s where your guests are!
Suzy Knauf is a social media strategist with a strong background in digital marketing, traditional advertising, public relations, and promotions/events. At 3i Advertising/Public Relations she works closely with a variety of waterpark, entertainment, and attraction venues throughout the United States to develop innovative and effective social media marketing campaigns that increase brand awareness and fuel revenue growth. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image top right courtesy Walt Disney Parks and Resorts