“Is Digital Marketing a DIY Job?” is the latest webinar from Tourism Intelligence Scotland, hosted by Highlands & Islands Enterprise. The discussion between host, Ian Forsyth, and two industry experts raises a number of key issues about how to manage your own digital marketing and identify when it might be time to bring in the experts.
Rene Looper, the founder of Tuminds Social Media, has spent more than 14 years as a social media coach, trainer and speaker, delivering social media training to businesses across all sectors.
Ross Coulter manages the digital marketing operations at CairnGorm Mountain, delivering rich content to tens of thousands of followers across their social media platforms every day.
Rene and Ross tackle some of the difficult questions businesses face when considering their own digital marketing, in particular social media activities, and if companies should be managing these in-house or get in expensive experts.
Both experts share examples from their experience of how businesses can and should manage their own digital marketing activities, by planning their objectives from the start to eliminate any trepidation. They explain when the right time to decide outside help is required and what the benefits of this can be.
Rene describes why social media has become such a compelling business tool for tourism businesses; allowing almost face-to-face communication with customers worldwide. Highlighting that ‘people like to buy from people’, social media allows businesses to develop a personal identity which can be updated quickly, instead of relying on web designers to update content.
“Social media used to be an add-on for businesses, but it is now considered a must. Customers expect businesses to have a Twitter and Facebook account at minimum; to be able to ask questions and expect answers, quickly, directly from the voice of the business.”
Ross tackles the beginning of a social media journey, identifying the correct platforms to use for a particular customer base. While every business may want to be on every social media outlet, Ross identifies the importance of selecting the right ones and to realise from the very beginning the need to plan ahead before diving in.
During the webinar, questions were invited from viewers during real time and some were tackled by the panel of experts. Rene confirmed that the most common question asked in relation to in-house managed social media is the time it takes to dedicate to a successful campaign. “It can take quite a lot of time to set everything up. But, I always encourage businesses to stick with it as it gets better. Once set up to go, you can use tools to help manage your social media which can limit the time you need to as little as 15 minutes per day.”
“Identifying objectives from a digital marketing campaign, finding the currency that a business wants to gain from it is key”, Ross explains. “This may be to increase traffic to a website, increase direct sales or simply raise awareness.”
The delicate subject of interaction with customers is a large part of the discussion. Ross explains that interaction is the USP of social media, and as such should be embraced. If delivering this in-house, the passion and personality of the company should come across.
Rene and Ross give advice on how often and when the best times of the day are to post to help maximise the reach and interaction, and the further importance of gathering data and statistics to find out when these are for each particular business.
During the video, both panellists recognise the importance of using tools to collect data about how customers visit their social media channels in order to fine tune which works for them. Looking to the future, the discussion opens up to what the next big thing in digital marketing for businesses could be. Niche social media platforms for particular interests are mooted, as well as the rise of mobile communication on social media.
Both panellists agreed that managing social media and digital marketing activity in-house is the best way. Their advice is to identify the person or team who know the business and the customer. Realise where customers hang out online, seek training if required or if unsure, and consider bringing in external help to get you started.
The key is to plan in advance and find the right balance, not leaving anything half done or out of date. Further help and advice on how your business can use digital marketing is available on the Tourism Intelligence Scotland ‘Shine Online’ guide.
To hear more of Rene and Ross’ advice, watch the Is Digital Marketing a DIY job webinar.