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Jesse Desjardins

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Jesse Desjardins, Global Manager, Social & Content at Tourism Australia, will be the opening Keynote speaker of this year's Content | Campus on the 30th and 31st of March in Copenhagen.  Jesse will be talking about how his team speak to millions daily via Tourism Australia's digital platforms to become the most followed destination globally on social media.

If you haven't done it yet, make sure you secure your place to the leading event all about Content! 

Quick introduction to yourself and the work you do at Tourism Australia

Jesse Desjardins here, I’m the Global Manager, Social & Content at Tourism Australia. My team and I look after the content on Australia.com, as well as the very popular @australia social profiles. I’ve been with Tourism Australia for nearly 6 years. I think I managed to get one of the best jobs in the world. It’s an incredible privilege to promote such an incredible country.

How many people are part of the Tourism Australia team and what is the main focus of your organisation?

Tourism Australia is the Australian Government agency responsible for attracting international visitors to Australia, both for leisure and business events. Our ambitious mission is to make Australia the most desirable destination on earth. We’re active in 17 international markets, promoting unique attributes which will entice people to visit and targeting people who research indicates will spend more and travel most widely through the country. Tourism Australia’s remit includes advertising, public relations and media hosting, trade shows, industry programs, consumer promotions, online communications and consumer research. We’re have about 200 staff globally. Although we have a relatively small content and social focused crew based in Sydney, we like to think our team as consisting of millions of people. One of the best things we’ve ever done was to open up our platforms to Australians, visitors and the tourism industry. When we all work together there’s no limits to how big our team can be.

What do you think are the most important content trends for destinations to consider in 2017?

We can talk about all the latest trends like Facebook Live, Snapchat etc, but for us one of the biggest trend is that the consumer is creating content in unprecedented levels, often much better than what destinations could create themselves. For us, this is one of the biggest trend we’re tapping into in 2017. We think it’s a major challenge, but also a major opportunity. When you’re able to engage your stakeholders (often millions of them) to work towards a common goal, you’re always able to stay on top of trends because the community is helping you achieve more than you could on your own.

How are you using content to shape the visitor perceptions?

A good example is the Restaurant Australia campaign we launched two years ago. Our research had shown that long haul travellers who had been to Australia rated our food and wine offering quite high, right up there with France and Italy, and those who hadn’t visited rated it quite low. There was an obvious perception gap that we needed to address, and the best way to do it was through content and advocacy. When we launched the campaign we spent a lot of time on the road sharing what our strategy was with the local industry and when it came to social media, how businesses could share their stories with us so that we could utilise these to change perceptions. It took a few months, but after a while the community started sending us fantastic stories. Fast forward to today and the #RestaurantAustralia hashtag is an incredible community where businesses from all around Australia can learn from each other and contribute to the campaign by providing us with an ongoing source of great content to tell Australia’s food and wine story. It’s a constant source of inspiration for us, as well as a way to keep on the pulse of what the consumer is experiencing and saying about our food and wine offering.

How has your content approach and strategy changed due to changes in consumer behaviour?

One of the things that’s helped guide our strategy is to have clarity around Tourism Australia’s pillars of activity. For example, our Aquatic & Coastal, Restaurant Australia and Nature and Wildlife pillars represent a large segment of our activity. Within that, how we tell each story evolves over time based on changing consumer behaviours. Take social for example, just a small tweak in format can mean a massive breakthrough in reach and engagement. It’s often not hard, it just requires you to stay on top of how stories are being told within the channels you’re trying to reach your audience in.

We’ve always had a saying that on Facebook and Instagram we want to speak the language of the people. We want our content to naturally fit in people’s newsfeed and not be seen as intrusive brand marketing.

That requires you to test, learn, adapt and repeat constantly. Our content focus is set weeks, sometimes months in advance, but how we tell those stories can be tweaked daily based on the latest behaviours.

Looking at social media marketing and the power of communities - what can other destinations learn from Tourism Australia about becoming the most followed destination globally on social media?

I think a big part of what we do boils down to trust. You can ask any Australian on the street who their national tourism board is and most could tell you it’s Tourism Australia. I’m not sure you can say that in many parts of the world. I think the reason we have such a highly engaged community who contribute over 3,500 pieces of content a day is because of the trust the industry and the public have towards the organisation and what we do. For us it’s been years in the making, way before social media came along. The other big part is alignment. Yes, our job is to make sure we have incredibly high performing platforms, but we also have to take the industry and our stakeholders along with us. Destinations are incredibly complex brands with millions of touch points.  You can have an amazing website and social profiles, but if every other touch point isn't great then you’ll have a poor experience for the customer.

What is the role of 'live' content and real-time marketing in Tourism Australia's day to day marketing and overall strategy?

It’s definitely starting to play a bigger role. Over the holidays I took my Christmas tree down to Bondi Beach and we did a Facebook Live as the sun was rising, allowing us to be one of the first to wish the world a merry Christmas. It didn’t cost us anything but reached over a million people. A few days later we did the same with the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks which was incredible. It’s an area that will keep growing for us.

In your opinion, what can other destinations learn from Tourism Australia's work to engage consumers around the world?

Start with engaging your industry and your residents, if you can’t do that then there’s very little chance you’ll be able to engage visitors. For us, over 90% of our content submissions come from locals. It’s always our preference to elevate local stories rather than those created by a visitor who is just passing through. There are exceptions of course, especially when it comes to influencer content. But generally we have to continue to build up local capabilities. This means that when a potential visitor is clicking through the stories we feature they are seeing a person or an operator that has a deeper story to tell. Too often destinations only feature influencer or visitor content simply because it’s visually beautiful, but there’s often very little follow through. We have hundreds of businesses and stakeholders all across Australia who all have incredible platforms and we’ve all been able to increase our results by being incredibly aligned. In the end I think this is what provides the highest amount of value for consumers around the world.

Why should DMOs not miss your talk at the Content | Campus?

We’ve never spoken at Content | Campus before, so this is a first. Our focus has previously been to share our secrets with the Australian industry first. I just hope people realise I’m from Tourism Australia, and not Austria. Which has happened before.

What are you looking forward to the most at the Content | Campus?

Seeing content innovations from the smaller European destinations. I often think that’s where some of the best ideas come from, if you can prove how it works when it’s small then you can scale up. I’m also looking forward to connecting with the DTTT community. We may be from opposite sides of the world, but we share a lot of the same challenges and opportunities. I’ll also do my best to bring some sunshine from Australia.

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