Could social media be the biggest driver of visitor numbers in 2020?

Did you watch Channel 4’s ‘What Britain Bought in 2015’, presented by the fabulous Mary Portas?  Ok so my catch-up TV is extremely delayed... Watching this last night got me thinking about the future for media that has the most influence over visitor footfall.

One of the best selling items in January 2015 was the workout DVD by Geordie Shore’s Charlotte Crosby, which sold 100,000 in one month.  In a declining market, apparently this outstripped the sales of other DVD’s Frozen, Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey.  Everyone involved was blown away by the result.  However, most interesting was the dramatic change in the media which caused the sales spike.

What might you ask, has this got to do with visitor attractions, well let me tell you my thoughts - historically, probably as far back as 2012 (seriously Palaeolithic in marketing terms), a ten-minute slot on ITV’s This Morning would have been classed as the golden ticket for sales of a DVD.  This is the same media that would have driven an increase in footfall to a visitor attraction.  Daytime TV being the ideal place to find the retired or mothers with small children, both of whom are key markets for both fitness DVD sales and many visitor attractions.

The interesting thing is, according to the DVD’s producers, this TV coverage had literally no impact on sales.  However, one post from the Georgie Shore girl to her fans and followers resulted in a huge spike in sales and changed the fortune of a dying fitness craze.  Charlotte has 2.5 million followers on Twitter, 4.5 million followers on Instagram and 1.4 million likes on Facebook.

Like fitness DVD’s, TV has long been the desired media for driving sales or footfall to visitor attractions.  Ten minute coverage on a show such as This Morning, would see a rise in visitors in the days that followed.  So does this mean that the days of daytime TV being a footfall driver are coming to an end?  These recent retail sales figures are just one example of how our ‘influencers’ and the way we consume and respond to information is changing.

With many visitor attractions attracting mothers with young children or a retired audience profile, those businesses need to think carefully about what media is going to drive footfall in future.  Look at how quickly things have changed for the fitness DVD market.  More depressingly, its only 14 years until the first of the Millenials turn 50 and undoubtedly become the museum and garden visitors of the future.

Beware all those still poo pooing the time you and/or your marketing team spend on developing a social media following.  If you don’t have this engaged social community in future, you’re going to have to do a lot of catching up.  You’ll also find yourself needing to pay for advertising on the platforms where others are paying little simply to chat with their ‘friends’ and invite them along.