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Spain steps up social media amid budget cuts

Spain steps up social media amid budget cuts

Steve Keenan

August 4, 2012


by Steve Keenan

Necessity is the mother of invention for those southern European countries still having to make deep budget cuts.

Tourism may be a key earner for Greece, Portugal and Spain, but the industry hasn’t escaped the axe, with marketing budgets worldwide being slashed.

So with no money for traditional advertising, a different way of thinking is necessary – and for the Spanish, that involves clever digital and social media.

Enrique Ruiz de Lera, pictured, has been running the UK office of the Spanish Tourist Office for eight months. It’s Spain’s biggest market but last week he heard that his already diminished budget had been cut again.

Yet with a strong digital marketing background, he had already started shifting direction.

An agency, Lotus PR, has recently been appointed to run a two-year digital campaign and, in an interview this week, Enrique revealed to WTM that he has wide-ranging plans for social.

A new website – SpainInUK – will launch in two months, with UK sites for Facebook and Twitter linked in. So far, so good.

But the site will contain “content that stands out,” he says – with, for example, topical features on what to wear in Madrid in summer or the best new wines in Spain.

Playlists will be suggested for music, books and articles to tie in with the season, while the site will also cover events in the UK relating to Spain.

“We’re going for quality, not quantity – we are not looking to engage with everyone,” says Enrique, who suggests that Facebook is at a ‘tipping point’ and that volume likes are no longer the goal.

It’s more going back to the ‘old rules’ of content that stands out, he adds. “If you have exclusive and strong content, then social media will grow.

“We want to be going up to people and whispering in their ear: ‘Hey, you like Spain. Then take a look at this…'”

There are plans to also roll out an e-zine magazine on iPad for the UK market, that will contain exclusive video and other multimedia, the “most interesting” of the period.

In response to the economic crisis in Europe, the Greek National Tourist Office has also launched a new website –trueGreece.org – and asked for ambassadors to speed positive messages about the country via social media.

But Enrique insists that his initiatives are designed for the long-term, and are not simply a reaction to events.

And you sense that he is right: social media is social context, not an e-commerce site. Perhaps we’ll all look back in five years time and see the depths of the recession as the time when social media really took root in travel.

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