Your digital tourism success depends on quality content. But what’s the best way to create that content and how do you share it with your audience? Julia Sutherland speaks to two experts in this webinar.
Neil Robertson runs travel itinerary company Locomotion Scotland. He’s a respected blogger and social media expert, splitting time between consultancy for Turas Digital Marketing and travel blogging his way around Scotland.
He co-created some of the most successful social media projects in the Scottish tourism industry in 2015, including #Isleathon and the #Scotlanders blogging collaboration.
As sales and marketing manager at Boots N Paddles, Callum Rogerson has marketing and website responsibilities, as well as getting involved in many different aspects of the business including bookings, social media and business development.
The company is currently developing a presence across multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, as well as pursuing new business opportunities through TripAdvisor.
Neil and Callum joined Julia Sutherland to discuss the realm of content creation for this webinar, the final in the series from Digital Tourism Scotland. Here are the main points they covered.
Four steps to writing a great blog
Having a blog on your website is a great way to keep the content fresh and updated, and improve your rankings on Google search pages without affecting the core content on your website. But where do you start?
Neil explained his four-step process:
- First, decide on the objective – what does your blog need to achieve, what customer need will it meet?
- Once you have that sorted, then think about all the questions that people might ask as they read it – how much does something cost, how easy is it to get there, and so on.
- The third thing to think about is SEO, search engine optimisation, making sure that you’re writing something that people are searching for – and can find.
- The final step, of course, is writing the content. Neil recommends around 1000-1500 words for a blog, plus around ten pictures as a rough guide, but if you’re just starting out don’t let that daunt you: start small, and build up your confidence.
What about the tone of your blog?
"Just go for it," says Neil. "It’s important not to be too formal - use a chatty tone, and write as you’d speak. Think of it more like describing something to a customer face-to-face, rather than a long formal piece of writing."
Also think about where your blog goes. Having a blog on your main website is ideal for search purposes because your readers will already be on your website, ready to buy your product. If you don’t have a website with a content management system, then setting up a blog on Tumblr is a great way to get started. Just make sure you link back to your main site with each blog.
Another top tip is to offer your blogging services to other organisations. Callum has recently written a series of guest blogs encouraging people to explore Loch Ness. "It’s a great way to share your content wider than your own website."
If writing really isn’t your thing, then there are plenty of experienced bloggers out there who can help you out. Have a look out on blog sites such as Tumblr, or search for people on Instagram and Facebook using popular hashtags like #ScotSpirit and #ScotlandHour.
Sharing your content: Instagram
"The photo sharing social media app, Instagram, is perfect for tourism businesses in Scotland," says Neil.
"For one thing, your posts last a lot longer than they do on sites such as Twitter – a tweet might last a few minutes at most, but an Instagram post will keep notching up likes for weeks, months after it was first posted.
"More specifically, people love beautiful photos of Scotland. Instagram allows you to share content with a wide community of users, across a huge range of hashtags."
Neil recommends using 20-30 hashtags per post to make sure your photo gets as much exposure as possible. "Make sure they’re relevant and meaningful – don’t just jump on every passing bandwagon."
But isn't Instagram just for young people?
The demographics certainly suggest that the app is most popular with the under 35s, although the audience for this webinar strongly disagreed with the idea that Instagram is only for young people. And while you may find a slightly older audience on Facebook, where lots of the family decision makers are, the Instagram audience is switched on and growing.
Tumblr: the all-in-one blogging platform
Tumblr is often held up as one of the best platforms for blogging. You can post many different types of content, and because it’s also a social network your content can keep reaching new audiences, many months after it was posted.
Neil recommends Tumblr to small businesses that are just starting out with social media. "It’s much easier to grow your audience on Tumblr than on Facebook, which requires a big spend on advertising."
So is it better to have a blog on Tumblr, or a blog on your website?
Neil uses Tumblr to reinforce the blogs on his website – linking back, and building the integrity of the posts. "In general terms, having a blog directly on your website is best for SEO, so think about starting one there first."
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Photography: hire a professional, or go on a basic course?
If you have the budget for it, hiring a professional photographer is well worth the money.
Online, the quality of your content is more important than the quantity of it. While the text of your content is important, people are often drawn in most by brilliant images.
Communicating the experience that you offer in a visual way is always going to be the most effective – at least that’s Callum’s experience. He always encourages the instructors on his activities to take photos and videos – while it’s not professional photography, it’s candid, and it works.
If you don’t have the budget for a professional photographer, attending a basic photography course is a brilliant way to bring your skills up to scratch.
From basic composition and editing skills, to making sure images are optimised for the web, a photography course can put you in a great position to transform your presence online.
The final word? Get creating.
It’s easy to feel daunted by the number of platforms, technologies and all the new developments to keep up with. But the most important thing is generating the content in the first place.
Develop a regular blog and the rest will follow.
Find out more about Digital Tourism Scotland