Social Media

No one would argue that social media hasn’t become mainstream and part of many people’s everyday life in one form or another. It has been adopted on a large enough scale that many businesses (including holiday parks) are now hitting their stride, are comfortable with the technology and are seeing measurable returns on their social efforts.

If you believe the statistics, Facebook continues to be the most widely used social media platform, with 32 million users in the UK.

LinkedIn and Twitter ties for second place with 21 million and 20 million respectively, and the fastest growing platform over the year, Instagram has an impressive 14m users. Pinterest holds up the pack with 10 million users.

Social media is incredibly popular for a reason, but the increased volume of businesses using social platforms to engage with their customers and promote their products and services has increased the presence of business related content. This is already leading to some signs of brand fatigue, making consumers less likely to engage with sponsored or branded content – choosing instead to engage with content from independent sources or for some, move to another social platform altogether.

In the last twelve months there have also been major changes in the social media landscape as the various platforms look to establish their position and generate revenue for their shareholders.

We have seen the Instagram rising in popularity and becoming an influential platform for business. The announcement from Mark Zuckerberg in January 2018 on Facebook’s refocus to create a family friendly and personal platform and step away from business advertising is also giving marketing managers a new headache. This means new opportunities to look to other social platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat and consider other forms of online advertising.

Twitter rolled out 280 characters. Instagram allowed for multi-photo posts. Augmented reality (AR) and photo filters continue to evolve. And everyone competed for eyeballs with short-lived stories and video content.

For those parks that are already using social media it looks like the new year will be an interesting time.

There will be more pressure on businesses to find ways of generating high quality and engaging content – rather than simply running a “like and share” campaign on a Facebook page. The changes coming, ultimately mean your park presence could be limited if you continue to use the same marketing tactics you used last year. Parks therefore need to look at their social strategies and change the way they use the platforms.

Key Social Media Trends

1) Social Media and the News

More people are now turning to social media to access news and information about what is going on in the world than ever before. By the end of 2017, roughly a third of the 7.6 billion global population were social-media users, and about a quarter had Facebook accounts. This isn’t a dramatic increase from the year before, but still, social media is big, and it’s changing the world.

It is no surprise that social media plays a major part in politics, shaping the outcomes of the US election, Brexit and fuelling social unrest. In total, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton spent $81m on Facebook advertising alone; in the UK, Labour’s better-than-expected results were largely credited to its social-media savviness and being able to engage with the younger voter. For some observers, social media has become the most influential factor in political decision-making.

2) Trust for brands declines, while peer influence rises

A year ago “Fake News” entered our vocabulary. And according to a global study by Edelman, consumer trust in the media, academics, CEO’s and government have sunk to an historic low.

The erosion in trust in mainstream institutions impacts both businesses and consumers (and that includes your park customers). As trust in governments and corporations decline, consumers turn to their own familiar sources: each other.

That being the case, we are moving to a position that consumers will have smaller spheres of influences – which is why customer advocates, micro-influencers and engaged park employees will matter more than ever.

How to take advantage of this: focus on building meaningful customer relationships and turning them in to holiday park advocates. Challenge your teams to deliver exemplar customer service and customer interaction, use your Trip Advisor reviews pro-actively and seek out local influencers. Building long lasting customer relationships is one way to address declining organic reach.

3) Social TV

Watching television used to mean sitting in front of the TV at a specific time as set out in the Radio or TV Times. If you missed it, well tough unless you were lucky enough to own a video recorder.

Well, how times have changed. Nowadays we have all sorts of ways to watch TV, on a device of our choosing and almost at any time we want. The major TV channels all have catch up options, and new platforms have sprung up and the likes of Netflix, Amazon and YouTube are challenging the traditional broadcasters.

TV is going through a transitional period at the moment and the social platforms are also joining in. Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat have also started buying, or even producing, long-form video content.

How to take advantage of this: as the consumption for video content skyrockets here is the opportunity for parks to become broadcasters as mobile video and social TV-style programming take the spotlight.

There will also be opportunities for parks to try innovative social advertising formats and bold new ways to engage social audiences.

4) Generation Z will decide the next social media trends

As social media continues to evolve and parks look to new ways of using it, it is paramount to focus on your customer base. As your customers get older a new wave of potential park consumer are just around the corner. So how can you use social media to appeal to the lucrative millennial and Generation Z demographics.

For those not in the know, Generation Z is the generation born after 1992 who grew up in the digital age, compared to “millennials” (born 1977-1994) who are the children of baby boomers and remember (even if only briefly) an age before the internet.

Generation Z is entering the workforce and has immense buying power and marketers need to take the characteristics of this generation into account, while still targeting the now-aging but larger demographic of millennials.

In terms of social media consumption, millennials spend an average of six to seven hours per week on social media, whereas 44 percent of Generation Z check their social media at least hourly.

Millenials are known as incredibly sophisticated technology wise, immune to most traditional marketing and sales pitches…as they not only grew up with it all, they’ve seen it all and been exposed to it all since early childhood. They are likely to have used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Generation Z kids will grow up with a highly sophisticated media and computer environment and will be more Internet savvy and expert than their millennial forerunners. They expect to find information or get a response to a question instantly. They will have grown up with smartphones and be comfortable with voice search, predictive text and use Snapchat, Instagram – but not Facebook – that’s for parents!

How to take advantage of this: many park owners currently focus on two or three main channels e.g. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To stay ahead of the curve keep an eye on the next generation and what platforms they use. Although they may not be your consumers yet, their use of technology and social media will drive what comes next.

5) Influencer Marketing – the new advertising kid on the block

Over the last twelve months we have seen the rise of Instagram as an influential platform for business. Without a particularly strong advertising model many brands have been using “influencer marketing” on Instagram to increase reach and continue to drive engagement.

Influencer marketing is big business — a billion dollar industry by some counts. There is an exhaustive list of micro-celebrities who earn six figure incomes. And this isn’t a fluke. Influencer marketing is uniquely keyed to exploit certain facts about a growing number of buyers.

As millennials advance their careers, and Generation Z start theirs, an enormous population’s purchasing power is increasing swiftly and starkly. These two groups – who are rapidly becoming your next important consumer group — are uniquely influenced by this marketing method.

Marketers can now instead tap into the power of micro-influencers. These influencers are not only more affordable but often have more time and are more eager to partner with the right brands, that are interested in collaboration and serving their audience incredible value.

How to take advantage of this: consider using influencer marketing as part of your content strategy. Here’s your opportunity to start building relationships with influencers – however small. This could be a holidaymaker you identify that runs a successful blog or has a strong loyal following on Instagram. A word of warning though… It’s important to ensure that any product placement is not forced. Influencers won’t work with brands that don’t fit in.

6) Smarter Content

Content continues to be the mainstay of any social strategy and impacts customers and traffic within digital marketing.

For example, making sure you are still creating quality and information rich content that will interest your park customers is important for search engines as well as offering customers with a unique experience.

According to 2017 statistics by the Hubspot, customers who felt they were engaging with content that was personalised and up-to-date were more likely to make purchases and become loyal to the brand.

How to take advantage of this: With the multitude of content on the web and social media and the many brands that choose to pay to promote content, it is becoming an increasingly crowded and noisy environment to reach social users.

Ask yourself – How you can “wow” your park customers and guests? Here’s your opportunity to create content and imagery that leaves your audience wanting more. Being over promotional is also a common mistake by a lot of businesses, use storytelling and try and make your content more personal and less corporate – you might be surprised how well people engage.

7) Video, video, video

In a mobile-first culture, video has become one of the main media of consumption. We have seen Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter all investing in video to help generate engagement and build followers.

Clearly, video is the dominant form of content grabbing your audience’s attention. In 2017, 90% of all content shared by users on social media was video.

  • YouTube: More than 5 billion video views are watched each day
  • Facebook: Around 500 million people watch Facebook videos every day
  • Twitter: 82% of Twitter’s audience watches video content
  • Snapchat: says they generate 10 billion video views every single day

How to take advantage of this: Holiday parks who are not yet using video as part of their social media strategy ought to consider using it in 2019. Use these tools such as Facebook Live and Instagram Live to create new and exciting content.

Before you dive into video you need a strategy behind what you’re doing. Make clear objectives and don’t just use video for the sake of it. Research into exactly what your target audience is looking for and test different content to see what works best.

8) Ephemeral Content – here today – gone in 5 seconds

Ephemeral isn’t a new buzzword in the world of social media, but it’s one which is gaining more and more traction. It relates to short-lived or fleeting social content which is accessible for up to 24-hours on a social channel.

As we all know the Internet is a crowded place and users are battling to choose which content to engage with. Ephemeral content has an expiry date, so users can’t bookmark or view later. It ultimately creates an urgency about your content. And because the content has an expiry date, it is deemed much more special.

One of the reasons that ephemeral content is becoming so popular amongst social media users, according to the Digital Marketing Institute, is that it taps into one of the key attractions of all social media – content creation. And as much as users can passively enjoy others’ content – they can actively create their own. It also taps into audience FOMO (fear or missing out) – so they feel a greater desire to engage with it or risk losing out.

If you have young teenagers you will probably know that Instagram and Snapchat “Stories” has become the mainstay of their social media use.

How to take advantage of this: Based on what we believe, in 2018 we will see ephemeral content having more engagement than other content types. According to the stats, those brands that have adopted this style of content are seeing an increased engagement rate when using content that isn’t permanent. They are considered more authentic than traditional content with a longer shelf life, and appear less spammy. Here’s the opportunity for parks to test the theory and get closer to your customers.

9) Messenger

Messaging platforms have grown at an incredible rate over the last couple of years. And there are now more people using the top four social messaging apps (WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, and Viber) than ever before. Despite this incredible growth, the State of Social 2018 survey found that just 20% of businesses have invested in marketing through messenger platforms.

Many parks will have used Live Chat tools to good effect and has meant you can offer great customer support during office hours. But take that concept to the next level with semi-automated Messenger chatbots and you can deliver quality customer support 24/7 and all year round. Giving your customers more effective ways of communicating with you only allows them to have a more enhanced buying experience.

How to take advantage of this: There are huge opportunities in the messaging space. Partnering your existing social media campaigns with messaging apps will be a great way to engage with your park customers.

Facebook Messenger is a native application on pretty much everyone’s smartphone, so consider using it as a pro-active marketing tool rather than a simple responsive private messaging app.


David Lakins

Dave Lakins is no stranger to the holiday park industry... Read More

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