How Tourism Australia became the world’s biggest social media team

tourism australia social media amiThink you lack the manpower or resources to use social media effectively? The answer may lie with your fans, says Tourism Australia’s Jesse Desjardins.

How one man became a crowd

Jesse Desjardins joined Tourism Australia two years ago as social media manager. He faced the not uncommon challenge of growing the organisation’s social platforms with a team of one: himself.

His solution was to flip the traditional brand strategy upside down. “We turned our social media profiles over to the fans and industry,” Desjardins says. “They send us their photos and we publish the best stuff.”

Tourism Australia now receives hundreds of these photos daily. Because of this crowd-sourced content, Tourism Australia now has the largest social media presence of any tourism destination in the world – powered entirely by fans and industry.

Today, Tourism Australia has a social media team of three, but that’s not how Desjardins sees it. “We think we have the world’s biggest social media team. There’s everyone else in the organisation who participates, plus 4.7 million fans on Facebook. And there are 22 million people living here in Australia. Our whole strategy revolves around encouraging all of these other people to advocate on our behalf.”

Keep it simple

The secret to Tourism Australia’s success is simple. Literally. “Keep it simple and do it well. Every single day. We would never win an award for what we do, but every day we reach one to three million people on our Facebook page and 100,000 people on Instagram.”

This systematic, business-as-usual approach has freed Desjardins and his team from the tyranny of jumping from one time-bound campaign to the next. “We tend to not use the word ‘campaign’. Instead, we tend to think more about how other people can help us build a platform that can become bigger and bigger over time.”

Who is the hero of your story?

Desjardins is very clear about who is at the centre of this strategy. “There’s a very famous scene in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker runs through the forest with Yoda on his back. In social media, most brands position themselves as Luke Skywalker. Instead, brands should position themselves as Yoda. He’s the wise one, the mentor. When our fans become the hero, they pick us up on their back and carry us to incredible places – much further than we could ever go on our own.”

Don’t miss Jesse Desjardins’ presentation ‘The World’s Biggest Social Media Team’ at this year’s Australian Marketing Institute Annual Conference on October 16-17. Learn more about the conference at the AMI Conference page.


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