The organization has found a way to engage visitors and locals in a way that should be a blueprint for other destinations looking for a two-way conversations with their biggest fans.
Pity the poor travel marketer that goes up against Tourism Australia on social media.
Australia has already had success with images on social media with full-frontal photo of a kangaroo went viral on Facebook in August 2013. But it’s Facebook success is small potatoes compared to how it performs on Instagram.
Of the over 2,000 brands and influencers currently tracked on SkiftIQ, only three other photos broke into the top 200 of most liked photos on Instagram, one a portrait of Anthony Bourdain in the foothills of the Himalayas, and two by Foster Huntington of A Restless Transplant of friends camping and a campfire.
The other 197 most-liked photos on Instagram belong to Tourism Australia. It’s not just that they’re “liked,” they’re liked much, much more than any of their peers: the average destination gets 360 likes per photo, while Australia gets over 8,200.
Where it Gets the Images
To supply the photos the destination marketing organization uses, it turns to users. “Our followers and industry in Australia send us hundreds of photos every day via tagging @australia or by using #SeeAustralia,” says Jesse Desjardins, who heads Tourism Australia’s social efforts.
“We also don’t plan our posts. We mostly only feature photos that have been taken on the day, this allows us to always be learning from our contributors and adapting to what we think will resonate best with our followers.”
Using images from users allows Tourism Australia to compete with a small team — there are only two and a half people devoted to all social networks at the DMO — against global hotel chains and Disney, which have more resources at their disposal.
“There is no exact formula,” to sharing a photo that will become well liked, Desjardins says. “It’s really a mix of art and science. We know that our iconic animals like kangaroos and koalas are always a big hit, but then sometimes we stumble on a shot that completely surprises us.”
Looking to users has its benefits when it comes to understanding how people are traveling and what they care about. “More than half of our reach and engagement on our social profiles comes from mobile now,” says Desjardins. “Instagram is not only a major platform for us to be reaching our target market, but also one for us to be getting a real time look at how people are holidaying across the country.”
“There’s an incredible amount of insights that the social team are collecting every day by looking at what people are sharing.”
Australia doesn’t mess around with filters, either: It used the “Normal” filter on 96.9% of all its uploads. “When you photograph Australia you rarely need a filter,” Desjardins says.
Tourism Australia’s Top 10 Most-Liked Photos
Photo credit: This picture of a stop along the Great Ocean Road is the fourth most-liked travel industry image on Instagram. Tourism Australia / Instagram