By Michala Maly
Like it or not, social media has transformed the way travellers experience the world and Sydney is no exception. With the little device known as a mobile attached to every palm, tourists no longer need guide books or maps. Strolling right past the concierge desk, visitors head to their chosen destination while Siri speaks directions in route. What led to the decision to eat at a specific cafe´ or the time of day to climb the Harbour Bridge? Whether it was a friend’s recommendation or the advice of a local you’ll never meet… social media likely played a large part.
IS SOCIAL MEDIA BECOMING AS IMPORTANT AS SYDNEY'S ICONS THEMSELVES?
Although a few hold-outs to change exist and paper maps can still be purchased, social media is highly influential regarding what people see and do in Sydney. Why bother asking one or two irritated locals about events at the Opera House when Twitter or Google+ makes it so easy to get multiple opinions and reviews within seconds? What visitors read on social media influences all manner of decisions regarding dining, entertainment, accommodations, and more. In other words, if a local business owner wants to benefit from visitor dollars spent in Sydney, they should develop a strong online social presence.
TOP 5 SOCIAL SITES OF INFLUENCE IN SYDNEY
GOOGLE+ - According to Leah Rise, Director of Search & Social at a global digital marketing agency, Google+ is here to stay.
"It [Google+] has transformed the way local marketing works by combining the powerful influence of social media with the strength of the world's leading search engine. More businesses are reporting positive outcomes when Google+ is incorporated into their marketing plans. Visitors to Sydney use Google+ for information, ideas, reviews, maps and more."
FACEBOOK - Facebook, an oldie but a goodie, is one of the first well developed, heavily used social media platforms. Yet, for all the connections far and wide, it still provides a marketing service regarding advertising and events, both local and around the world. Millions of people in Australia are daily users and since Sydney is a city of approximately 5 million people, I daresay, many Sydneysiders and tourists are checking Facebook right now. Visitors to Sydney can find all manner of information and interact with locals through Facebook business pages.
TWITTER - Twitter is the cute little bluebird app everyone has but many are just discovering its influence. Wildly popular among aficionados but confusing to latecomers, Twitter definitely fills a niche. Users tend to be fast learners and able to process thoughts into witty or cutting phrases under 140 characters. This ability works perfectly with the desire to be an active participant in conversations regarding events, both newsworthy and social. Visitors to Sydney connect with locals and share opinions on dining and entertainment, often leading to questions about other areas or hotspots of interest.
INSTAGRAM - Instagram is widely used and popular for beautiful photos. It's an instant, full colour travel brochure that never wrinkles or rips, unless of course, you drop your mobile on cement without the case. Users key in any destination and pages upon pages of photos pop up, giving an idea of what to expect and whether or not a particular destination is worth the time and effort.
TINDER - Tinder is all the rage among the young single crowd in today’s upwardly mobile society. But this local social app is starting to connect even the furriest locals with a family to love. People looking to meet other people who love dogs or cats are finding forever homes for the furry four footed members of our society. It turns out they're recommending veterinarians, kennels, pet product stores and more. This is a huge influence on marketing and business through social media and one many advertisers might not have thought about until becoming aware of Tinder's popularity among young singles.
As we settle into the 21st century, its obvious social media is here to stay. We may discuss how it wastes our time or joke about the silliness of it, but let's at least be honest. The reality is, we love our Social Media apps. After all, we're only human and humans want to connect and be in-the-know. There is no easier way in 2014 to connect and learn what the locals are doing than through social media.