Sunday, 25 October 2009

Social Media Marketing – Now or Never?

In today’s post I want to give you a summary of thought-provoking presentations from the annual Tourism Conference of the Vienna Tourist Board, which I attended last Thursday. The event took place in the very atmospheric Semper Depot in Vienna and more than 400 representatives of the tourism industry and governmental bodies followed the invitation.

Norbert Kettner (see photo below), director of the Vienna Tourist Board, presented the new marketing campaign with the catchy new slogan “Vienna – Now or Never”.

This year’s programme included several presentations of international speakers. Keith Edmonds, from Oxford Economics presented market research data and gave an outlook for the economy and the travel industry with respect to the global recession following the economic crisis. His uplifting message was that although 2009 is going to present a universal downturn Austria will do better than many other European countries.
Aren’t we lucky? Well, the statistics for arrivals and overnight stays in Austria confirm that he has a point.
The current developments give evidence that the worst is over and that we will see a weak recovery in 2010 in terms of the GDP growth (see chart below, the thick line is the Oxford Economics' forecast).

I also listened to the interesting presentation “What is Open Source Marketing?” by James Cherkoff, CEO of Collaborate Marketing. He stated that social media marketing is already well-established in many industries and especially in the tourism industry. He illustrated the mechanisms, strategies and tools of social media marketing by referring to the “Best-Job-in-the-World”-campaign.

Tourism businesses and organisations can increase their online visibility if they let their customers do the communication work, was Cherkoff’s credo. The four key elements for customer participation are the environment, the concept, the tools and the content for the me-too marketing campaign (see photo below).

You need to determine and understand the environment in which participation should happen, i.e. the target market, target audience and the communication platforms your customers use. The campaign concept describes the advertising message which can be disseminated through adequate tools such as blogs, wikis, online communities, Google applications and so forth. Last but not least, the content for the conversational campaign has to be relevant and interesting for the target audience.

Spreading the virtual word-of-mouth has become an effective and efficient form of marketing communication and companies should rather start with social media marketing now than later. What are the barriers then that have prevented many businesses yet to turn their efforts to collaborative marketing? Apart from a lack of social marketing knowledge and concerns about an increased work load, it is often the fear of losing control over the content and in turn over the advertising message. Social media marketing certainly requires a deeper understanding of the hedonistic motives of your customers. Cherkoff claimed, that “you have to make your customers look good” because for them the deal was “you can get my attention if you give me a platform.

I say, you better start now, because never might be just a touch too late!


  1. Hey Christian, glad you found it interesting!

  2. Hi James,

    A great pleasure for me that you visited my blog :-) I liked your thoughts about social media marketing. Maybe we can exchange our ideas at some stage somehow.