Influencing the new influencers, part two

There is a big shift taking place in how brands relate to consumers and many marketers have realised the importance of influencing the influencers. This is also true in destination marketing. Recently Land of Valencia, the regional tourist board, held a number of ground-breaking blog trips – you can read posts from the trips here.

During the last one to Benicassim we met with Land of Valencia’s promotion executive, Joantxo Llantada. Here in our interview with him he offers an overview of their work, return on investment, and how the internet is changing the way people behave with brands and, in turn, the way marketers need to focus their campaigns.

Influencing the new influencers, part two: Joantxo Llantada from maiacomms on Vimeo.

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Why communication is king

On August 18th, 2010, posted in: Communication by

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In our web-dominated world we often hear the phrase ‘content is king’ from people arguing against an obsession with SEO keywording, and quite rightly. But rarely do we hear people talk about the importance of good communication.

Content – be it the written word, photos, videos or podcasts is communication and as we all know the inherent value of good communication, shouldn’t we consider it to be king?

Since the beginning of time communication has helped civilisations develop and paved the way for modern economies. Yet it is constantly evolving – from cave paintings and early dialects to the printed word and multimedia platforms. But what we are seeing today is that the way people communicate ideas and share information is undergoing another revolution and it’s savvy companies that are engaging with them.
Today we’re more connected than ever before thanks to the increase in netbooks, iPads, smartphones and other mobile devices that keep us in touch wherever we are. Like it or not, this is giving rise to a whole new type of communication. But in a world where more and more things are competing for our attention it is increasingly hard for companies to get their message across.

Consumers aren’t necessarily any more demanding, but they are more aware of the many options available to them and they research your company and product online before getting in touch. So what will they find? A smart, well-presented and SEO-keyworded website? A lively and engaging blog? A community of happy customers and brand advocates engaged with your social media profiles? Or will they find a faceless company who’s strongest communications tool is a banner page advert?

Fact is people need to feel engaged with you and your product and word of mouth recommendations are proving more and more vital to businesses. According to Erik Qualman’s Socialnomics 78% of people trust reviews from their peers, but a mere 14% trust advertising. These stark figures illustrate the huge shift in our society and the way we seek information.

So there’s a clear need to interact with your customers – show the face behind the brand and build community to help customers understand your company and what makes you unique. Consumers don’t want spin, PR fluff or advertising, they want to form a relationship with your company and brand and good communications – be it features, blogs, photos, videos or podcasts is all important. So be natural, engage, and have fun in your online communication.

Whether your company has a website, or profiles on Facebook, Twitter etc. or not, people are researching and writing about you on the internet.  So ask yourself, do you want to inform the world about your brand or product or let consumers make up your story – good or bad?

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Influencing the new influencers, part one

We all know the internet is transforming the media landscape and the way that people find information. In the past the media giants held the power to influence and controlled the message through newspapers, magazines, television and publishing. But blogging and social media has changed the  balance of power. Word-of-mouth recommendations are becoming more and more important as a new breed of influencers is born.

Recently Land of Valencia, the regional tourist board, held a number of ground-breaking blog trips – you can read our posts from the trips here.

During the last one to Benicassim we met with deputy tourism minister Victoria Palau. Here in our interview with her she offers her view of the revolution taking place in tourism marketing and the increasingly central role that social media is playing.

Influencing the new influencers, part one: Victoria Palau from maiacomms on Vimeo.

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Destination marketing 2.0 – bringing social media to your region

We’re often told social media is the future (make that now) and of the opportunities it holds for the travel industry. But rarely do you see destinations embracing it and using it to full effect.

That is until recently, when Land of Valencia – the regional tourist board in eastern Spain, invited a group of bloggers to experience their destination with a series of trips. The first took in the city of Valencia and the European Grand Prix. My reasons for attending #blogtripF1, as it was known on twitter, were two-fold – to write posts for Sarah Lee travels blog and connect with other travel tweeters, bloggers, and destination marketers sharing ideas about social media in travel.

There are more than 36,000 Google results (blog posts, tweets, photo albums, podcasts, videos and more) for #blogtripf1

In organising this type of trip Land of Valencia was as brave and daring as it was cutting edge. Those that dare to go first with new initiatives invite those who don’t or do not want to understand to take shots at them. They may also place their careers in jeopardy if others fail to appreciate their vision. This is particularly true for social media where the regular measures of PR/marketing success and return on investment (often judged by advertising equivalent rates) are more difficult to assess. So I salute all those with not only the vision but the courage to drive this forward such as Juan Llantada, Arantxa Ros, Jimmy Pons and Lasse Rouhiainen (a crack Spanish social media team brought together by Land of Valencia’s Juan).

If these visionaries are correct, and I think they are, then the future for marketing, particularly in destination travel was cast around us in the five night trip.

Content, publicity and trends

An eclectic group of photographers, bloggers, traditional journalists, and video makers assembled in Valencia, and each brought their individual skills and viewpoints to their content output. The content and publicity generated by this disparate group of 20 or so bloggers was considerable and unlike pieces in print publications which are read and quickly abandoned to the “great chip shop in the sky” these pieces have been tweeted and retweeted, shared on Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and more and will be viewed by people interested in the Formula 1 and Valencia for months, even years, to come.

Furthermore the #blogtripf1 hashtag was Spain’s number one trending topic on twitter during the trip and for some time after – getting information on the destination out to millions of people. Added to that there are now more than 36,000 Google results (blog posts, tweets, photo albums, podcasts, videos and more) for #blogtripf1 – a figure sure to impress any destination marketer.

Refreshing results

#blogtripF1 was a pioneering and refreshing approach to destination marketing and aside from the obvious figures it produced the following results:

  1. Unlike traditional journalism, the bloggers’ stories didn’t die on publication. With social media the information is available forever online. A month after #blogtripF1 new content is still being generated and further publicity gained.
  2. Bloggers’ trips are not restricted to print or broadcast journalism. #blogtripF1 showed that a multi-faceted media approach can work with writers, podcasters and videographers producing complementary, and yet different reports of their experiences.
  3. What Land of Valencia did wasn’t new – this was a tourist board influencing the influencers. However in the past this was traditional media, via advertising and PR-driven editorial. But as the communications landscape is transformed people are increasingly turning to bloggers and online media channels as trusted sources on travel destinations and providers. As word-of-mouth recommendations become more and more important bloggers should not be underestimated as a crucial part of the destination marketing mix.
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BlogtripF1 – a destination marketing success story

A few weeks ago Land of Valencia – the Spanish city’s tourist board set about a rather daring destination marketing campaign – inviting bloggers from across Europe and the US to the region to discover it for themselves and go to the Grand Prix (hence the F1 title). It’s rare for tourist boards to take such a leap of marketing faith, but Valencia firmly believes in the power of social media marketing and is quickly becoming a pioneering region in this arena.

I was interviewed by Spain’s YouTube marketing expert Lasse Rouhiainen on my impressions of the trip and the opportunity for destination marketers to harness social media to their benefit.

You can read destination travel pieces from the trip here.

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