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2018’s Campus event is a little over a month away and we’re gearing up to mingle with the industry’s best DMO experts in Jersey. One such expert we’re really looking forward to meeting and hearing from is Switzerland Tourism’s, Fabian Reichle. Fabian hosts Influencer & Social-First Content Marketing at #DTTTCampus, alongside a host of other industry speakers, all sharing knowledge and expertise. We caught up with him in order to understand more of his team’s content strategy and to get us geared up for the content marketing event in September.

1. Please introduce yourself, your role and your organisation...

My name’s Fabian and I have been working for Switzerland Tourism for the past three years, where I’ve always been in the social media department. When I am not connected to the whole world, I love to do the exact opposite: biking and climbing in the mountains during the Summer and snowboarding during Winter.

2. In this current climate, what is the biggest challenge for Switzerland Tourism?

We struggled for quite some time with the expensive Swiss Franc (or the cheap Euro). This made Switzerland even more expensive than it already is. As a consequence, we needed to think about our overall strategy.

This affected the whole company as we were transforming our marketing activities to content driven storytelling – basically we had to shift from years and years of  “classic marketing” which wasn’t easy but I think we made it.

As for social media, we seriously had to think about our mission; Where are we positioned in the customer buying circle (if there still is such a thing) and what is our goal? This ultimately led to the development of a social media strategy with guidelines, but this is still a big challenge for us and is a work in progress that we still need to fine-tune. First and foremost, it’s about what we post; we want to inspire our fans and followers, which isn’t always easy since we sometimes still try to squeeze in our marketing-driven, super-fancy content when sometimes our fans just want to see the Matterhorn, plain and simple.

3. In light of the previous question, what is the biggest content opportunity for Switzerland Tourism?

The biggest content opportunity is the diversity of Switzerland. We’ve got a little bit of everything; mountains, lakes, cities... that, and everything is quite impressive.

The approach to telling this story can be seen on our Instagram account. What we post there is basically a photo album that shows of the whole of Switzerland and all its facets. The best thing about this: the whole stream only consists of user-generated content, meaning, we really implement our fans and followers, putting the social in social media.

However, we never let a picture speak for itself, meaning we always write a long description for each and every image: telling stories about what can be seen on the photo, giving instructions on how to get there, explaining, exploring. Infotainment, so to speak.

4. How is Switzerland Tourism engaging with consumers on their social media platforms?

First and foremost, we’ve got guidelines for our community management. The main takeaway from these guidelines is that we always try to ignite a conversation so we try to be curious and ask questions. This works really well with inspiring and easy-to-consume content, such as the likes of a simple, beautiful picture or video of Switzerland without too much context. If we’ve got a “non-starter” post, we usually leave it like that, no comments, no engagement.

5. As an organisation, what is your content strategy?

The most important thing is to inspire people and our posts need to have a “wow” effect. To summarise: easy, snackable content that triggers a thumb stop (at least on mobile) is our goal. People should see our posts and think: “I want to go there!” or even better, “I want to go there again!” As mentioned before, this works best with unique Swiss content, which could be iconic stuff like the Matterhorn, but also those hidden gems.

It’s important that visuals are top notch.

6. How are you developing storylines in your content marketing?

We try, whenever possible, to implement a hero or heroine to our content; someone who tells us something about Switzerland has a strong connection to it and is genuinely an interesting person. For example: in Bern, it is pretty common to swim in the Aare, the river that runs through the city. That on its own, however, is just a fact. So we then tell the story of Bern's mayor who swims with the locals on a daily basis.

When it comes to distributing said content, it really depends on the size of the campaign. We’ve got weekly content that is distributed throughout our social media channels, which we consider to be the base layer of storytelling. This content is planned in a weekly editorial meeting. Other, bigger stuff is planned in advance and is often connected to our main campaigns, which are Summer, Winter and City.

7. What kind of influencers have you been working with?

After several collaboration attempts with influencers, we tried to professionalise the whole thing and nowadays we’ve got influencer guidelines that clearly define with whom we work; mainly Swiss locals who are usually from the field of nature photography.

When it comes to working with influencers, an important criterion is that both we, the company, and the influencer both need to be at the same level. For example, we have our marketing goals and the influencer has his or her view on the topic, so it’s important that we both understand each other in order to have a successful cooperation.

As far as influencers go (I prefer to call them content creators) working with them can be very interesting because they can spotlight the things we actually didn’t see or may not have even cared for.

Also, working with content creators gives us the obvious opportunity to reach people that we probably miss with our own channels. I think the appeal for influencers to work with us is that they can do the thing that they do anyway but in a professional way. This also means that we nearly never have influencers that just cooperate for the money – they mostly love what they do and this can be seen in their work.

8. What's the best thing about working influencers?

It’s such a fresh and easy-going community and this brightens up our sometimes strict and purely marketing-driven thinking. Some of them are really young and it is amazing to see how creative they are sometimes. This is all really nice, however, it sometimes can also be tricky…  we had cases where we literally had to stop influencers because they were a little bit too enthusiastic; there was one time an influencer was calling us on a Friday evening for hotel rooms on Saturday.

Incidents like these led us to the “coffee first” formula. It’s super important to tell the influencers how we as a DMO work and what our ultimate goals are. From the political structure to campaign planning, right through to content distribution; they need to understand how the machinery works. That’s why sitting down, having a coffee first and explaining what we do and challenge them to understand is a crucial part of us working together.

9. What have you learned from this work?

The main thing I’ve learned along the way is not to rush things. Swiss people are usually very, very analytic, they would never do anything unless it has been tested and discussed ten times and we would never start a project unless it’s absolutely bulletproof. With social media and influencers in general, it is strangely different… We saw a lot of projects where kickoff meetings began with “let’s do something with influencers!” Which is strange, because that’s not how we usually think and work.

Our department was sometimes also a little bit too eager and we did things because it was a hype. This often didn’t end well or it ended in disappointment. Nowadays we really try to figure out what additional value an influencer can bring to a specific project. We try to be pragmatic, sure, but we are a marketing company and we should always pursue that one goal: doing marketing.

10. What will attendees be able to take away from your talk?

The main takeaway is probably the insight from a team that had absolutely no idea about working with influencers a year ago and now has developed solid guidelines and strategies and organises a lot of influencer campaigns – from the single, small projects to the massive, year-long collaborations. In my talk, I try to take away the inhibitions and prejudices from influencer marketing.

11. What excites you the most about #DTTTCampus?

It’s always eye-opening to see what other DMOs are doing. The variety of approaches and projects all over the world are always striking.

12. Finally, as a bonus question if you could offer one piece of advice to a DMO struggling to tell their story, what 3 words would you use to motivate them?

Three words? Easy! User Generated Content.

#DTTTCampus kicks off in Jersey between 20 – 21 September 2018 where Fabian Reichle hosts Influencer & Social-First Content Marketing, alongside other keynote speakers from Visit California and Singapore Tourism. You can register for tickets right now or watch our video summary which gives you a complete overview of the event.

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