Advice for Social Media Managers from Visit London’s Sha Gorur
If you’re a social media professional in the tourism industry, this interview is a must-read.
I asked Sha Gorur, Social Media Manager at London & Partners and the man behind Visit London‘s killer social strategy, how he sets solid goals and runs successful social campaigns like Paddington Trail and Guest of Honor. Let’s dive right in to learn from a true pro.
What were your goals for the Paddington Trail campaign? What kind of results did you see?
We had three goals for the Paddington Trail campaign:
- To target tourists “on the ground”
- To raise awareness for both the upcoming Paddington Movie and the locations in which the Paddington Bears were placed
- To raise money for the NSPCC charity
We ran two competitions. One was a photo competition where people had to take pictures with the Paddington bears and submit them using #PaddingtonTrail for the chance to win a limited edition bear miniature and £250 Selfridges Vouchers.
The second competition was to win a trip to London to experience Paddington’s London.
The results we saw here were:
- 37 million in reach on Twitter and 1.5 million in reach on Facebook
- 2.2 million pageviews
- £950,000 raised for charity
- 10,000 entries in each competition
Do you have different methodologies, content types, and goals for the different social channels you’re active on?
We tend to use imagery across all our channels. This drives most of our engagement.
— Visit London (@visitlondon) June 22, 2015
Each channel has a common goal of follower growth and increased engagement.
An added target is to drive traffic to our site.
Over the last year, our Facebook channel has more than tripled in audience size, from 190,000 to over 600,000. Our Twitter audience has gone from 200,000 to over 340,000. Instagram has been most impressive, with nearly 70,000 followers today after starting from scratch last year.
This has all been the result of having a more personable approach, speaking to our audience like a friend rather than a company, and asking people what they want to see.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get is the philosophy I instilled upon joining Visit London.
Which strategies are most successful on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter?
Again, establishing a personable tone is essential. Thanks to our vast wealth of content, we work on a content-by-content method. We discuss which approach would work best for a certain type of content and then test it.
For example, for Chinese New Year last year, we ran a Twitter Card campaign based on daily fortune cookies.
These clicked through to specific landing pages. We saw an increase of 60% on social referrals to these pages and people generally loved coming back for their next fortune cookie.
How interested or involved are you with developing social networks like Pinterest?
Hugely! It’s not a case of being everywhere for the sake of being everywhere, but rather being where your audience is.
We target the US as a main location. Pinterest fits that demographic, so we use Pinterest to make sure we aren’t missing out.
Plus, Pinterest is an important tool in influencing people’s travel choices, so if we aren’t there we are really missing out.
Tells us about Visit London’s use of videos on social.
We recently won an award for best use of video on social at the British Tourism Social Media Awards for our innovative use of video.
Our award was for our London from Above video, in which we used a drone to capture some of London’s most iconic buildings and give people a fresh perspective on this amazing city.
In addition to our main campaign videos, we also produce helpful guides on How To Do London.
What has been your biggest learning about social strategy and planning in the last year?
Communication is key. It is all well and good having an idea, but we like to make sure that all angles are covered.
Who we target is also key, and we conduct a lot of research into our target demographic’s behavior on social media.
Finally, we make sure everyone is aligned so that we can maximize the effect our content is having.
Anything else you’d like to mention about Visit London’s social strategy and plans for the future?
We have three major campaigns coming up which are confidential at the moment, but be sure to keep an eye on Visit London’s social channels — this could be a game changer!
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I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.