Martin Stoll, CEO of social media agency Sparkloft Media, believes that social media is changing everything, from recruiting and B2B sales to product development and design. In this interview, Stoll shares ways that tour operators, activities providers, and attractions can leverage social media and social data to drive sales and generate buzz. Adventure park operators—pay attention!
What are some key examples of how adventure park operators can use organic social media to grow their brand and revenue?
Not to be negative, but organic social media will only do so much for an attraction. Posting on your own social channels without paid media will not give you a lot of reach. So, either you need to put money into paid media or you need to rely on partners that have the reach. Those partners can be influencers, but there is a lot of fraud going on in that area at the moment.
Or the partners can be customers—and that is, in my opinion, the best way to use social media for activity providers or attractions. Make sure your customers are sharing their experience when they are there. Offer Wi-Fi connectivity, and have a distinct hashtag. Best case, take photos or videos for them (without charging), and make it easy for guests to share the content on their social channels.
What are some new ways attractions can harness social media? And what trends should they be watching right now?
Something I would pay attention to is the new Snapchat map feature. On a heat-map, it shows where a lot of people are “snapping” from at the moment. Geo-features like this will come to other platforms and become more sophisticated. If you are an adventure park, you might want to focus on having a lot of people post from your location. Doing so could have your attraction show up as a ‘hot’ location on a map and bring more people to that location. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.
What’s your favorite social platform these days?
Personally, I really like Reddit and Quora. Reddit is fascinating, as it offers such good insights into pop culture and topics that might be trending soon. Quora is a great way to learn, either by subscribing to topics or just searching for them. There is so much knowledge in this world, and this is one way to get different perspectives on a particular subject.
Give us an example of an attraction’s social media campaign that knocked it out of the park.
We did a series of 360-degree videos for an attraction client, and it generated the second-highest number of online sales at the lowest cost per click that they had ever done. The reason it worked so well was that 360 videos on Facebook were still pretty new, and the videos had great organic reach because Facebook was pushing this content format. It pays to monitor how social platforms are tweaking their algorithms and be a first mover when new features that get priority come out.
What is the biggest mistake that activities providers and tour operators are doing in regard to social?
I think the biggest mistake is not being granular enough when it comes to paid campaigns—targeting an audience that is too broad and not having content that is really relevant for the target audience. I know it is a lot more work, but the extra effort will produce a significantly better return on investment.
To learn more about how your business can target customers through social media, Stoll will be hosting the following workshop during Arival – The In-Destination Event, which takes place at The LINQ Las Vegas Oct. 11-13.
Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram … and let’s not forget WeChat in China. Social networks are playing a bigger role than ever in travelers’ decision-making and in businesses’ online reputations. This workshop walks through the key social networks and features principles for great content, acquiring followers, and engaging customers. It will show you how social media can be the most cost-effective marketing channel, illustrate ways to use social media to gain key insights on target customers, and help you develop a plan to reach those customers and create engaging content.