VisitDorset, the county’s Tourism Partnership, holds Digital Roadshows across Dorset for its members, which include arts venues and cultural organisations.

Jacky Thorne, our Culture+ Tourism Lead attended the latest event which examined how various social media platforms offer different ways to boost business.  On the panel of experts (pictured) were Jamie Sergeant from Crowd, Luke Williams from WarpSauce, Claire Timbrell from The MacGuffin Project and Matt Bowkett from eviivo. Here are ten excellent responses to the questions that were asked.

1. Where do we start?

By identifying what you want to achieve through social media – is it sell more tickets? Reach a new demographic or market segment? Keep existing customers in the loop and informed? Knowing this will help identify where best to focus limited resources.

2. We have limited resources…

Small businesses often struggle with resource or capacity to operate multiple social media campaigns. Local colleges and universities however will often have young people prepared to offer their services in return for the experience, the profile and the recommendations.

3. How can we know how we are seen on the web?

Google your business and see what comes up – the panel recommended two sites to look at, Google My Business and Bing Places for Business

4.How can we encourage people to contact us?

Are your phone number and address on your website? If so, intelligent personal assistant like Siri will be able to pull the information and suggest your customer calls the number, and gives them directions.  It’s all about removing barriers.

5. Should we be mobile enabled?

60% of searches are made on a mobile – and this rises to 90% for visitors researching what to do and where to go!  It is the first touch-point for the majority of customers, so make sure it works.

6. What helps us rise in the search engine rankings?

Changing content regularly, and being up to date helps you rise through the Google rankings. Out of date information on any website affects the way your business is perceived – for example that is behind the times and out of date.

7. How can we create good video cheaply?

Video is always worth it! VisitDorset has ready-made videos that promote the county which can be placed on your site for free. See here.

8. How can we best use photographs

Photographs are the number one thing when creating a website, and vital on social media to promote everything from goods to experiences. Get customers to take photos, and tag your business when they upload them.  If they document a good visitor experience, others will want to engage with you too.

9. How can we target information to the right demographics?

Facebook Lookalike Audiences is a quick and easy way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business, because they’re similar to your best existing customers.

10.What is the future?

Voice search is the next big thing. Siri, Alexa, EchoDot – all ways that people will search for ideas and information. 40% search the internet in this way at the moment, and this will rise to 50% by 2020.  Rather than Google information, customers may simply say ‘nearest hotel’, ‘best restaurant’, or ‘what can I do today’.  Websites that comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) work better with voice searches – there are several ways to test your compatibility online – so do it!

For more information, events, ideas and resources:

Information for Dorset tourism businesses  https://www.visit-dorset.com/trade

Further VisitDorset training and network events visit their website