Friday, July 8, 2016

The rapid rise of blogging and the benefits of digital PR for the Tourism industry

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Blogging has been on the rise for some years now, starting gradually in the form of personal pages with the purpose of expression and sharing thoughts, information, photographs with no real awareness in terms of potential. Gradually, the business world began to see opportunity in creating similar business blog pages, wanting to gain an extra advantage with respect to their competition. This would happen by digitally increasing their internet ‘footprint’ and presence as blog content is a frequent feed of information and so is correlated with empowering SEO values and rendering better performance in terms of searches, with the ultimate aim of gaining more traffic and exposure, which translates into more sales. 

Exposure is a key word here, and with personal blogs of varying inclinations (such as fashion, food, beauty, travel) & types (such as vlogs, microblogging, photoblogging) flaunting an attractive media kit that commands a ‘decent’ following count and, with the aid of other social media platforms as well (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), a strong niche developed in combining the personal with the business side. This, almost organically, created various tiers of bloggers whose following count can be utilised for exposure, as an outlet for promotion and marketing of businesses’ product or service: from individuals now considered ‘digital icons’ of the fashion blogging world, to fervent travel bloggers who are committed to exploring the world come rain or shine, and other bloggers who command a small but strong fan base across their area of interest. Agencies act as a mediator here. Bridging the gap between supply and demand of such bloggers, they evaluate corresponding accounts across all types of fields, and provide businesses with targeted short lists that include suitable individuals or influencers for their product or service. Identifying this valuable ‘niche’, Nelios is actively pursuing the establishment of such relations with bloggers across all tiers, with the purpose for providing our esteemed clients the right outlet for their promotional purpose.

What this mean for the Tourism industry, and more specifically the Hospitality field, is that apart from business or corporate blog posts that are created as the beating heart of a website and are updated on a regular basis, blogging can improve sales in two more different forms. Direct exposure by achieving a cooperation with a famous top tier blogger, who is sponsored by the client to share their fabulous travel experience while at the same client’s venue. The result is usually photo content with location check-in, which is instantly shared via post to all the users who follow that person; that number could be well into the millions depending on the blogger and usually renders a huge engagement value. Details regarding sharing and post type is all up for discussion with the each blogger. Guest blogging is another way to get your product across. Written content from across a plethora of subjects gives the business a more broad base for creating useful content containing link mentions to the product or service as a recommendation, with the focus of the article being mostly elsewhere. The result is publishing across different websites and blogs, thus building reach sideways, and affecting SEO results more naturally. 

Blogging continues to gain influence in mainstream media, and blogs are increasingly successful in being considered a form of media. As people become more and more receptive and open to consider information emanating from non press sources as solid, and concrete, the value of blogging extrapolates. Quality content that is useful and valuable that is posted with consistency renders a happy following who are more inclined to follow blogger advice, which is primarily based on experience: tried and tested tips and advice by people who are considered digital experts in their area of interest. One main characteristic that separates press from blogging is the level of objectivity. Blogging is to a very great extent, a subjective activity, whereas there is great pressure on press and journalistic objectivity. Yet the subjectivity of blogging has not been considered a disadvantage. Rather, it earns a comparative advantage, considering who these bloggers are: people whose chosen area of interest, has become infused with a professional passion, making them almost experts there in.

Identifying such bloggers, evaluating their value (media kit info plus aesthetic of blog and engagement, to name a few), making a connection and establishing professional communication with them has great potential. Opponents of blogging will focus on the lack of evidence against ROI, but good public relations means that blogging will predominantly cost businesses time, and when it costs money, it is well-spent as the chosen blogger, or your temporary ‘business voice’, is a guaranteed ‘pitchman’ for your target audience. A business blog is no longer an option, it is a necessity. It is your permanent business voice but the audience is specific and the blog subjects are standard to your business. Guest blogging is more time consuming because it involves a greater element of research and targeting the right blogs for each client, but it also leads to wider reach than your business blog. Finally, direct exposure means that bloggers need to be offered an experience to test and share - this is one form of blogging that does require investment by the business, but businessmen are no strangers to the concept of spend in order to earn.

Blogging works for you, even whether you are aware of it or not, and it works even when you are not actively working. The benefits run in the digital background of the web, creating leads and directing more and more users your way. Two interesting facts* relating to 2015 statistics are that through prioritising blogging, marketers are 13 times more likely to enjoy positive ROI, while marketers who target blogging as a means of media find a return of 67% more leads compared to non-blogging marketers. More importantly, there is strong speculation that by 2020 online relations and synergies between users, bloggers and businesses will have progressed so much that there will be a need for strong public relations with influential bloggers across various fields of interest. Such relations essentially create a new service to be offered to hospitality businesses, thus giving them access to a glamorous niche in the world of social sharing, and by finding the right platform to showcase their venue and/or destination, this will similarly affect their actual sales and bookings. 

Written by Helen-Marie Joyce

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