Working together to make social media work for Prince Rupert

Last week Tourism Prince Rupert hosted a series of social media workshops with Think! Social Media for our members.

Last week Tourism Prince Rupert hosted a series of social media workshops with Think! Social Media for our members.

Each workshop addressed the specific social media needs of different tourism sectors. It’s part of a push to make Prince Rupert’s tourism businesses successful in social media in order to strengthen our collective effort to market the Visit Prince Rupert brand.

Social media has turned consumer marketing on its head. It’s obviously a global phenomenon, but let’s consider just the Canadian users who make up the bulk of our visitor and resident customers.

Canadians are the most engaged online audience; and, in a rapidly-growing trend toward a constantly-connected consumer lifestyle, this is where our customers are choosing to spend their time. And specific to our needs, social media is becoming vital to every stage of the visitor experience – from awareness of Prince Rupert, to trip planning, to on-the-ground support and experience sharing.

According to a year-end report from comScore, the leading digital business analytics firm, Canadians spend about 17 per cent more time online than US users – an average of 43.5 hours per month – mostly accounted for by a 32 per cent jump in social media usage.

Granted, there was a huge jump in social media use in the 18-to-24 age bracket, but the second highest growth came in users older than 55 – up 46 per cent in their use of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Usage is very nearly split between male and female, though women spend a significantly higher amount of time on social networks.

There are roughly 18 million Facebook users in Canada, a number that has grown by over a million in the past six months, meaning that almost 55 per cent of Canadians and almost 70 per cent of Canadian Internet users are on the social media platform. Each has an average of 190 friends on Facebook – an important number in considering how a positive (or negative) message can spread online.

Twitter’s user base grew by 60 per cent to 5.4 million Canadians in 2011, while time spent on the site was up 98 per cent. Tumblr saw massive growth in 2011, both in users and amount of time spent. Pinterest saw 364 per cent growth before the end of the year, even before its massive growth in 2012. YouTube also saw a huge surge, up by 170 per cent in

2012.

Further to this trend smart phone and mobile app usage is soaring – particularly in the area of social media. comScore also reported, as of February 2012, that the Canadian RIM (Blackberry) market share is in freefall, while iPhone is poised to take over the mobile market in Canada (Samsung is a distant third). The Visit Prince Rupert website sees most of its traffic from iPad, followed by iPhone, with Android as a distant third. Twitter and Facebook are both in the top 15 mobile apps used by Canadians.

These trends make it clear that there is an opportunity for every business to grow their market share by understanding where to find their customers in this complex world. Everything about advertising has changed, even the idea of it. In the world of social media, given the way that experiences spread between users, providing excellent customer service outranks traditional advertising in every way. Local business can further shape their online reputation by joining the social media conversation.

Prince Rupert is well placed to take advantage of social media. We can offer stunning images of our scenery, wildlife and culture. We have endless stories to tell, and visitors frequently comment on our friendliness. By working together we can succeed in this new world.

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