#TBEXStockholm. “It’s a different way of doing things.” True that, dear Jaume Marin. 2016 has marked my third “Travel Bloggers Exchange” conference after participating in Dublin back in 2013 as well as #inCostaBrava last year. Every year, the world’s largest gathering of digital influencers and tourism industry people is held in a different European, American or Asian city. This year, our European host city Stockholm has received us to a taste of Scandinavia, both in terms of pre- and post-conference blog trips as well as extending their welcome throughout the conference days.
As every year, I like to treat you to a wrap-up of the conference’s most interesting and relevant conclusions, filtered through my very own digital influencer stance at Creativelena.com.
Let me start with the opening keynote by Ian Cleary, who I’ve first met at TBEX Dublin in 2013 and who has made a name for himself by sharing his cutting edge knowledge on RazorSocial.com. He opens up #TBEXStockholm by reminding us of the power of Social Media, saying that “your influence changes behaviour. Content and true storytelling is what people want and will continue to see. Just think of the recent, rapid rise in adblock on the Internet. Blunt advertising no longer works.”
“As you build relationships with influencers, you become more influential yourself. They will like, comment and ultimately repost your content. It takes time, yes. But if done with the right people, it can go a long way.” (Ian Cleary, TBEX Stockholm, 2016).
Ian concludes his powerful opening speech by giving us the following five pieces of advice:
- Be unique in your approach, because it is a crowded market place. (Oh yes!).
- Be strategic and ask yourself: What is different about you and your business?
- Be honest. Be downright open and FUNNY!
- Make your readers part of your community, part of the “family” around your blog and business.
- Continuously share, share and reshare your evergreen content! Tools Ian mentions are “Agora Pulse”, “Social Warfare”, “Buzzsum” and “Semrush”. With almost 1.000 articles published since my own blog went live in 2012, I must make a point of looking at that one more closely ..! 😀
Next up are the Vagabrothers, as I choose to attend their session called “How to Optimise Video across online platforms”.
In a conference environment such as TBEX, I always find it ultimately rewarding to attend sessions that confirm my observations, teach me new angles to my existing publishing work, and open up fresh insights as to “what else is possible”. Listening to Marko & Alex Ayling, travel video experts at www.VagaBrothers.com, we confirm once more that it “takes heaps of time to build a brand, especially on a crowded platform like YouTube where 93% of all views go to the top 1% of publishers. Our feedback has shown that it is best to put yourself in front of the camera, to be funny, instructional, and have a continuous narrative across your video publications.”
Facebook Videos, they mention, have the advantage of leveraging off a huge audience and perfectly targeting short form video formats that are shareable. Instagram, in comparison, is your “little quick escape and works best when serving the travel / lifestyle generation’s need for great photos and, to some extent, short videos”.
To structure your content publishing and embed it into a wider strategy, Louise Bastock, of Lonely Planet’s Editorial Staff Team, shares her tips for creating editorial calendars to work with.
- In order to “organise, inspire & communicate”, remind yourself of important dates such as for instance the World Wildlife Day, and build a content strategy around it. This helps to leverage off frequently used hashtags and search engine requests around such dates.
- As a general rule: Think not only about what to write, but also when best to publish it.
- Google calendars are one of the best tools available in terms of a quick, easy-to-use and collaborative editorial calendar to use.
- Starting a series of regular features allows you to maintain a timeline of publication, and better overview, about it.
- All of the above efforts will ultimately pay into you being perceived as far more strategic and professional about your digital publications. It also helps with unifying your brand message and tone of voice across platforms, leading to become a stronger negotiator and more solid about pitches with brands and other cooperation partners.
However (and this is really it, my dear readers): Where would be without “all the LOVE”? 😀 Ask Jaume Marin & Gemma Suñer in their speech about “Conversations at TBEX: Engaging Content Creators with Love”.
Have I ever told you that I am deeply impressed by Jaume & Gemma’s work ethics and passion throughout their network with us digital influencers, travel writers, YouTubers and the like? I think I am not exaggerating when I call them and their team at Costa Brava tourism board as one of the most long-term, blogger-friendly business partners worldwide. They have hosted TBEX twice (in 2012 and 2015) and have always been super professional, highly engaged and ultimately innovative in terms of potential cooperations between digital influencers and local tourism authorities. If you do not know them or their work yet, go and check it all out here: http://en.costabrava.org and / or read my comprehensive post about the success and proceedings from #TBEX #inCostaBrava last year.
Now here comes the love.
I have subsequently met, and fallen in love with, Costa Brava, its people, its language (yes! “She is fluent, and not only in Spanish, but also in Catalan, eh!”, Jaume & Gemma make a proud point of continuously mentioning, making me blush), calling Catalonia a new home on this planet Earth.
And so it goes:
“In the economy of attention, we want more than just sex. We want something long-term, not a quick fix or a one-night stand with bloggers. A change of mentality is needed, as we move to professional relationship management over months and years.” (Jaume Marin, TBEX Stockholm, 2016).
Mumbling, smiles and laughter fill the audience as Jaume carries on his refreshing “music of talking about love, not sex”. “Everybody wants it. Everybody is looking for it. But no one really knows IT. Sometimes, I get the feeling that some brands act no better than horny teenagers around blogger cooperations.”
Engagement and real pay-off, both him and Gemma stress, only comes from long-term cooperation among local partners, tourism associations, and bloggers. It is about “fishing, not hunting”, and choosing content creators on the basis of a real relationship that pays into the brand message of both. Only likewise, potentially huge amplification of all messages shared can be achieved.
“We never tell the content creators we work with when to publish what. We always say, ‘Publish whenever!’. If not, it’s like doing homework.” (Gemma Suñer, TBEX Stockholm, 2016).
To further elaborate on “engaging content creators with love”, Jaume & Gemma share more of their tracking insights from measuring success from professional travel blogger relations. On their specifically designed website, http://tbex.costabrava.org, they have created their own map of geotagged content that has been published by creators across the world under the hashtags of #inCostaBrava and #inPyrenees. Out of over 100 countries, Twitter alone has generated 208 million potential impressions across a “mere” 32.000 tweets. More importantly, though, “we have to look at the conversations behind these numbers. There are real people behind all of this! It is like me: I follow someone who has two kids like me. Who loves adventure like me. Who writes about creative tourism. Like Elena. I follow her because I like what she is doing, it is very interesting.” (Moltes gràcies, dear Jaume!).
“It’s a crazy business. Things change every year. Move fast. Make quick decisions. Decrease advertising, and put the budget towards content creators. Actual feedback about intentions to visit is the biggest measure of success we can have! This is where the industry should move as a whole, and we are proud to be leading the way together with our team and network.” (Jaume Marin, TBEX Stockholm, 2016).
Do build the love and passion into your professional work, then. Inna Pirjetta-Lahti goes on to talk about challenges and opportunities provided by the Nordic Bloggers network, and how community goes a lot further than imagined.
For the fourth time in a row, #NBEFinland will take place in January 2017 built on the huge success of the Nordic Bloggers Experience conference and blog trips during the past three years, starting in 2014. “Honesty, transparency, and thinking about blogging as a business, have not only helped my own blog to grow, but have indeed contributed to grow our network of Nordic bloggers far across its Scandinavian borders. I cannot emphasise the need for cooperation strongly enough!”, says Inna during her interactive, and inspiring, speech at TBEX Stockholm.
Last but not least, I’d like to share a few more simple reflections. Of networking and sharing among fellow travel writers, friends, and industry professionals, which is just as much what conferences such as TBEX are all about.
Very often, it’s the “corridor conversations” of large gatherings such as TBEX that lead to something great: A new book project. A fresh travel campaign. An unexpected turn of events, a final meeting with someone only ever met online, and continuous sharing, learning and networking among your peers. For me, this is now a major reason as to why I attend conferences such as TBEX, the Social Travel Summit, and/or other smaller gatherings of like-minded individuals and inspirational professionals across industries.
Here is to continuing in sharing the love, beauty and passion of our industry as we grow together as a global team.
All of my Stockholm pictures and TBEX conference photos are published here: