Insight into Harnessing Social Media to Promote Uganda’s Tourism
The digital age has come with numerous revolutions, discoveries and inventions which have brought an immense change to almost everything as concerns human interaction, communication, technology and travel concepts.
Social media has changed the way people communicate through supporting the concept of creating personal relationships as well as gather business contacts in order to dissipate messages rapidly.
Today, people can use social media to order merchandise, create and exchange information, pictures and videos in virtual communities and networks.
It is therefore important to note that Social media and tourism promotion could move perfectly hand in hand.
After deciding to travel, potential tourists use social media as a fact-finding tool when zeroing down to a travel destination, making “travel” one of the most shared topics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
With the campaign of ‘sharing your story’, people have learnt to share their experiences of the places they have visited, the food they love most, hotels and lodges they like and many others.
With social media, the world has become a global village because one will easily go to places that impress them right from a post or review posted on social media.
Other travelers can even plan the whole trip online using sites like Trip Advisor which has over 7 million locations, restaurants, hotels and tourism attractions and more than 490 million active users.
The content one posts on their social media platforms has the power to make them or their company a ‘hit’ online and could increase their following.
According to the Public Relations Officer of the Association of Ugandan Tour Operators, Jonathan Benaiah also a travel content creator, social media and tourism are inseparable in these times and that the way customers use it has influenced other sectors.
“I think Social Media and tourism marketing are like Nambi and Kintu; made for each other. And there are now many good ones that are still free. Using the ‘gram’, customers can find, share and review some of their best experiences in a few clicks or scrolls on platforms like Trip Advisor, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Twitter and the giant, Facebook that has over 32% of the world’s population actively engaged every month,” he said.
He added that marketers and investors in this modern age need to be where their audiences are, and if it is on the gram (instagram) or on the timeline then that’s exactly where we will and must be.
Only then, Benaiah further noted, would you know that about 89% of the millennials will most definitely get travel ideas from the experiences of their peers, role models and people they trust on digital media. And that 92% of users trust earned media (reviews and word of mouth) above any other form of advertising.
“Definitely, businesses can’t play the blind eye here especially in a sector where customers aren’t impulse buyers, but will do a bit more digging up,” he said.
It is through social media that businesses, experts say, also learn about satisfied and unsatisfied clients every day and are able to respond.
A genuine and well composed response improves reputation in the minds of both current and future clients. The same platforms also offer a quick and free feedback option.
Make use of travel influencers, more so for destinations that still lack content. They will help set the mood for the destination because they attract their audiences to your destination.
Just make sure they have what it takes to do the job also you may consider checking out their social media platforms just to be sure.
According to Bernard Olupot Ewalu, a social media influencer, companies looking for influencers should be ready to spend on them in order to smoothen their executions.
“Also, when they come over to your places, give them as much information as possible. It is not enough for someone to sleep in your establishment, eat your food and write a story about it. That doesn’t cut it. Give them some ‘behind the scenes’ tours. Let them know some interesting information that any traveller would find fascinating,” he said.
Olupot also noted that companies should try as much as possible to embrace the digital era so that there is a quick exchange of information especially with the ‘unsatisfied’ customers who tend to get rowdy on social media.
“Get onto Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Trip Adviser, Foursquare Swarm among others. Be online and be responsive because people on the internet can be a little impatient. Don’t just check your socials once a week. Check regularly and invest in putting your establishment online. Focus on growing your business and have someone who is a ‘Digital Junkie’ to handle the digital business for you. Think about a website, client reviews, SEO optimization, and all other things that entail the Digital Landscape,” he said.
He also advised travel influencers who are looking for gigs to start by investing in themselves.
“Spend money traveling, enjoying your life and then documenting it. You will be sure to attract the right companies and they will be willing to fund some of your trips and even pay you handsomely. If you are not interested in traveling or spending on yourself then perhaps this is not your area,” Olupot said.
“It is very likely that establishments will believe that you are serious about your craft if they see that your pages are littered with stories of you moving around the country,” he noted.
Reviews and Recommendations
Reviews and recommendations are proof that the campaign is working and believe me when l say that recommendations sell like hot cake.
When I am planning to visit a place, l first check out the reviews read through and then l can make my final decision.
Search Engine Optimization
The Tourism Industry should look at using the Search Engine Optimization which will help you in increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. Invest not only in content on search teams but also quality and useful or what we may term was relevant content.
Make sure the websites have adequate booking facilities as well as packages for example foreigners can be provided with an option of paying using the Visa card while the locals can be given an option of paying using mobile money and cash.