(Whitsundays, Queensland Australia.)
Hello there and welcome back. I hope that you’re reading this after reading my previous two blog posts. I’m attempting to tell somewhat of a story of how I became a professional Instagrammer and what sets me apart from the pack. This week I’m going to be writing about marketing. To be more specific I’ll be telling you what I’ve learnt about using social media to market a destination and why this knowledge is so important.
If you know a little bit about my story you will know that 12 months ago I managed to make a 360 degree career change and now work more or less as a travel photographer. Why do I say more or less? Because in actual fact I’m a professional Instagrammer and that’s how I manage to travel and be a photographer. Yes this is very cool but to be honest there’s quite a lot of us around. If you’re on Instagram yourself you no doubt follow a popular account that seems to post images from a new destination every week! Chances are they’re a professional Instagrammer too.
(Calgary, Alberta Canada.)
I mean what even is a professional Instagrammer? I personally define it as someone who earns their living from posting to Instagram in one way or another. Some might gain exposure that leads to work, some may leverage their popularity to sell workshops and lessons, some people work with brands and others do continuous “pay to post” campaigns. I even know users who have developed the greatest apps and market them through Instagram. The possibilities are endless once you have a fan base.
As for me, well I had a lot of followers. I had a lot of followers and a decent camera and a love of travel and I wanted to make a living doing what I love. I also had a lot of opportunity knocking at my door but a strong sense of pride that I wanted to control my own destiny and not just let it be something that happens to me. So I started to ask questions about marketing and especially how social media fit in. And from countless conversations and meetings and coffees and jobs I began to piece together an understanding of how I could market using my online presence and, more importantly, how I could work with reputable DMO’s. (That’s marketing lingo for Destination Marketing Organizations)
(Bondi Beach, Sydney Australia.)
What does it matter? It matters! Not many people know this but most DMO’s have limited money to spend on social media but loads to spend on traditional media like print, radio and tv. The main reason for this is that traditional media is quantifiable, if can be measured using age old PR formulas and packaged up to present as an ROI. That’s return on investment, a phrase you should know if you work with destinations. An ROI simply measures if a traditional campaign is a success or not. Unfortunately these ROI’s are intricately related to how much money can really be spent. Even more unfortunate is that, to this day, there is no standard method of measuring social media value.
Quite early into my new career as a professional Instagrammer I had a bit of the lingo down pat and some understanding of the obstacles faced by DMO’s looking to do more with social media. This helped me to get off my high horse of “I have x amount of followers, pay me to do awesome stuff” and to instead concentrate on justifying spending tax payer dollars on having me in region. Quite simply it’s just not cool to pay me to say a place is great, and between you and me this isn’t the way that I work. Instead I wanted to provide an affordable social media service that DMO’s would gladly pay for and provide measurable results of my work.
(Grampians, Victoria Australia.)
How did I do this? Well I learned about this cool thing called a KPI, another rad acronym that just rolls off the tongue. This means key performance indicator and it’s a way of telling my clients what they’re going to get out of hiring me. Exposure is a given but I also work hard to measure the exposure and not just by going off my follower number. I take into account genuine engagement in the way of likes and comments. I write reports! Who knew that Lauren Bath, ex chef, would be writing tourism reports. They’re not all glammed up and I still don’t know how to do a pie chart but they provide some real information and I think that means a lot. I also give away my images, and they’re high quality shots too. Professionally shot and processed and neatly packaged in a Dropbox folder, I just give those babies away. My clients can’t print a billboard from them but they can use them for social and digital and even share them with local operators.
So in a nutshell I guess you could say that I care. I want social media spend to become mainstream and this comes down to my belief in it. I provide great value because I help tourism organizations to understand what they’re getting themselves into. I take the images that I like and I don’t sell things, I tell a story visually and this allows me to keep my integrity with my followers. I’m a professional Instagrammer but I’m also so much more.
(Mon Repos, Queensland Australia.)