She’s back! Tourism goes digital and why emoji smiles are ‘crucial’ | Tony McManus on 6PR

May 29, 2016 9:05 pm

The footy schedule was in our favour this week, with Meg Coffey and 6PR’s Tony Mac reuniting for another light-hearted look at the world of social media.

Of course, there was a lot to catch up on, but T Mac’s interest was piqued when Meg mentioned her recent trip to Cuba – a place off-limits for American tourists until recently. As an Australian citizen, Meg had no issues exploring the island nation – except when she went to use her Westpac card. Hilarity definitely ensued.

But the age of technology is catching up in Cuba – Airbnb has launched there ahead of what is hoped to be a tourism boom, though free speech and internet access is still a challenge for locals.

Also on the tourism front, Meg has enjoyed exploring Western Australia in greater depth in recent weeks, thanks to some work with the Tourism Council WA. Local businesses in tourist hot-spots have been taking up the offer of social media training to help them make the most of the busy season ahead.

With WA Premier Colin Barnett recently voicing his support for a stronger tourism industry, operators are keen to use all tools available to them to reach the widest possible audience.

“Digital marketing is extremely vital to businesses. If you can’t be found online, you might as well close your doors because they’ll go to your competitors,” Meg said.

“A lot of these businesses I speak to out in the regions, they say they’re scared to let go, they’re scared to give control over.

“What I tell them is that the control is already gone, people are already talking about you online, wouldn’t you rather be embracing it and listening to what they’re saying?”

Despite what some may think, Facebook – AKA “the Yellow Pages of today” – is not going anywhere and plays a vital role in the digital strategy for many businesses.

Tony Mac may be one of the few internet users without a Facebook profile (not that we’re judging!), but those who have logged on recently may have noticed changed to their News Feed.

Rather than the long continuous stream users are used to, the feed is now split into categories to group together the most relevant content for streamlined browsing. For example, click on the “TV and Movies” tab to see all of the content related to that subject posted by the people and brands you “like”.

As a result, each post you see now has little labels attributed to them, much like FlipBoard. How this will impact businesses and brands is yet to be seen. Will it reinforce the “pay to play” focus for businesses using Facebook?
In other social media news, research has shown that 10 million Australians use emojis to communicate their thoughts and feelings with one another. Anecdotally, the expressive little faces and symbols add inflection, tone and body language where there is none, helping to prevent text-based misunderstandings.

Of course, using pictures to communicate is nothing new – just look at the hieroglyphics of the Ancient Egyptians and the rock art of the Australia’s indigenous peoples, to name a few.

It seems we’ve now come full circle, with savvy millennials able to have full conversations using only emojis.

Emojis have also been embraced by Twitter users struggling to keep to the 140-character limit, though new changes to that platform should help even more.

At the moment, adding a link or photo to your tweet takes up 22 precious characters. If you’re replying to a tweet, the other username also appears in your tweet, taking up another 15 characters (or less). So, a reply tweet with a link and picture already takes up 59 characters before you’ve even typed a single word!

Twitter is set to change all that soon – links, pictures and other usernames will no longer count toward the 140-character limit. Great news for those who have something to say!

Listen to the full interview with 6PR’s Tony Mac below, and follow Meg Coffey on Twitter at @TexanMeg.

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