Tips, Tricks and Insights on Digital Engagement Advice from TBEX North America
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending TBEX North America 2018. TBEX is an international conference and networking event for travel bloggers, online travel journalists, new media content creators, travel brands and industry professionals.
So why was I at TBEX? Well, in addition to being a museum professional, I’m a travel blogger! In my free time, I travel around New York’s Finger Lakes Wine Country and write about my experiences. This meant that I got to go to TBEX as both a travel blogger and as a representative of an institution that is looking for travel bloggers. This gave me the unique perspective of being both the prospective “influencer” and the institution searching for “influencers”.
Another benefit of me going was that because the audience is travel bloggers who often are working with a limited budget and doing things primarily on their own, the advice I was getting from the sessions was directly applicable to both my job and my side hustle. I’m a one-person digital team at the museum, so sometimes the advice that I get from social media or museum focused talks isn’t relevant because they have bigger budgets or larger teams. This advice was cheap, easy, and actionable.
What was that advice? Here’s my top takeaways!
Email marketing isn’t dead; in fact, it may be the best way to promote to your audience
My first session of the conference was presented by Caz Makepeace of YTravel Blog, and focused on email marketing. As Caz notes, 77% of people prefer to receive promotions through email, they want social media to be more experiential and not about promotions.
So how do we do this well? Caz suggests that the purpose of email needs to be about community building and that you need to build a level of trust with people. How do we do this?
- Make emails personal by targeting them to specific audiences: when you’re building an email list, try to split your audience into different markets so that you can deliver them newsletters that are targeted to their interests.
- Nurture new followers: when someone joins the list, you should put them through a nurture phase where they get a series of emails that introduce them to the newsletter, give them some options for personalization, and share resources that they might like before they join the full list.
- Be brutal when it comes to cleaning your lists: while we all want a giant newsletter list, if people aren’t reading the emails ever then the numbers aren’t really accurate. Caz suggests purging inactive emails from your list every six months; that means if someone hasn’t opened an email in six months, they get a couple warning emails, and then they are removed from the list.
Video isn’t a fad; if you want to be relevant to younger audiences you need to do video
Generation Z is the first generation that will be video and mobile first, and their favorite platform is YouTube. Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet began his presentation by sharing this information, and then gave us some practical advice on how to make great videos for our audience.
- Fish where the fish are: people want information from the platform they are already on, so you need to provide them with all the information there. So if you make a video on YouTube, don’t have it link off-platform, have all the information they need right there or link to another YouTube video.
- Be clear about your brand: you need to have a strong personality, clear title images that are similar across videos, branding on everything, and a similar feel across all the videos, this is particularly true for thumbnails.
- Create useful playlists: playlists are the way that people will binge your content, so make sure you provide them with good playlists that make sense; Anton suggests doing an introductory playlist, how-to, and a main content playlist.
- Secret is the music: pick the music first, then add the video on top of it, your video should match the music and music should have a three act structure with an introduction, middle, and conclusion.
- Get a good camera: Anton suggests either a Canon M50 and Lumic GH5, and get a microphone that will improve the audio.
Social media needs to be social; people want engagement, emotional, and an escape
Throughout the various sessions, this was something that people talked about a lot, but was particularly discussed as part of a panel featuring Carol Cain (Girl Gone Travel), Kim Thompson (Corning Museum of Glass), Heidi Siefkas, and Dennis Littley (Ask Chef Dennis). People use social media for a variety of reasons, but primarily they are looking for others that they can relate to, something that they can aspire to, and things that help them escape from their lives. So instead of wanting to follow celebrities, people want to follow others who are like them, but maybe living a lifestyle that they aspire to and is potentially attainable.
What does that mean for us?
- If people make an effort to comment, we need to make the effort to respond back to them and it needs to be more than just a like or thumbs up.
- It’s all about relationship building, and relationships can take a while- don’t expect followers to immediately do what you ask, you need to build up to it.
- Support audiences and followers who support you even if they don’t seem like your specific niche: their might be an alternative audience you could be tapping into.
- Make your followers part of your community: ask them to contribute and reward those who do.
My other favorite top tricks and tips
- Curb Free with Cory Lee: Even if your focus isn’t accessibility, add information on accessibility to your blog posts and videos. Share a link to the institution’s accessibility page, share images of a wheelchair ramp or braille text, anything helps!
- Andrea Zehnder of Door County Mom: Your brand should be recognizable across every platform you are on, including fonts, colors, and design, and you should love the design- it needs to be worthy of putting on stickers!
- Eden Rudin of My Social Garden: When people like content on your Facebook page, you should invite them to ‘Like’ your page- you are probably missing out on a group of people who are your fans but aren’t regularly receiving your content.