Influencers? Blockchain? These and other relatively new digital-age terms and concepts were discussed at Gauteng Tourism’s second annual Digital Symposium (DigiSym), hosted at Gold Reef City, Johannesburg, on 5 June 2018.
The speakers were head of digital Richard Frank and project manager Angela Blake from integrated communications agency Flow Communications; Gauteng Tourism digital marketing and communications manager Anele Mdzikwa; Mango Airlines marketing coordinator Kevin Morudu; blogger and influencer Meruschka Govender; and media entrepreneur Zimasa Vabaza. Topics ranged from LinkedIn’s evolution to online customer care and disruptive technological advances.
Here are just a few nuggets of wisdom from the event:
The days of creating separate sites for desktop and mobile are over, Flow’s Richard Frank said in his presentation. Statistics show that more than 50% of Flow’s clients’ traffic comes from mobile devices.
Something that has changed “quite dramatically” over the past five to eight years is the adoption of mobile as the primary way that people navigate websites, and particularly tourism websites, he noted. “At Flow, we work across a number of industries ... and tourism is the one that leads the way.”
Consumers are more likely to book flight tickets online than to purchase them from a local travel agent, so mobile adoption on travel websites has increased from 10% in 2010 to 50% or 60% in 2018, Frank added.
Google also now indexes websites using a mobile-first approach, he said. This means that the mobile experience should be a main focus during website creation.
LinkedIn is more than an online CV
LinkedIn is evolving to be more than just a job-hunting tool and an online CV, said Flow’s Angela Blake.
The social media platform is achieving this in various ways, including through influencers such as Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. LinkedIn has also added groups for like-minded professionals to discuss topics, help one another and connect to advance their careers.
“They’re in it to pioneer knowledge sharing, and that’s what I find so exciting about LinkedIn’s evolution. It might have started as a recruitment platform, but it has really evolved into a publishing platform where professionals with a high level of critical expertise can position themselves as thought leaders.”
The case for influencers
If you thought influencers were just another social media fad, the presentation by blogger and influencer Meruschka Govender, aka @MzansiGirl, proved otherwise.
Being an influencer is a profession like any other and, depending on your industry, they can add value to your business, she explained. However, there are rules to follow, including:
- Do your research to ensure that you find the right influencer for your business. This includes looking into their expertise, audience, engagement, tone and content variety
- Pay for their time, not their opinion. It might be tempting to try to control what you want them to say, but it’s wiser to let influencers form their own opinion of your products so they can be authentic in their marketing
- Discuss goals and objectives
Flow Communications CEO Tara Turkington moderated a panel discussion that featured Two Oceans Aquarium marketing & online executive Ingrid Sinclair, travel writer Di Brown and Gautrain Management Agency digital specialist Aleta Moloi sharing success stories and ideas from their own campaigns.
Moloi afterwards described the event as “very informative”, adding that one lesson taken from it was that “disruptive technology is coming and we need to prepare for it”.
DigiSym participant Nomathemba Mnisi, author of the Travelling Blaque blog, said: “I really enjoyed DigiSym2018, especially the presentation by Zimasa about the evolving space we’re currently in, and the glimpse into upcoming digital trends. There’s a huge gap in the industry that needs to be filled by us!”
Turkington said, “I loved today. I thought there was a great range of speakers and perspectives – from the influencers to Anele [Mdzikwa] from the destination marketing side and people who own products like Mango’s Kevin Morudu. So, I loved the diversity, I loved the ideas – I thought it should’ve been a whole-day event.”
Barba Gaoganediwe, head of destination promotions and marketing at Gauteng Tourism, said this year’s DigiSym was a step up from last year’s event, with improved content and engagement, and “a lot of insights into the disruptive economy, which is part of what oils the visitor economy”.
Participants talked openly, sharing expertise, advances and insights, he said, adding that Gauteng Tourism would like to take DigiSym further afield.
“We’re hoping to grow this platform, taking it to greater heights. It’s not just a Gauteng platform, it’s a global platform, because it sits in the digital space. So watch this space,” he said.