Intro

Now in its second year, the English Tourism Social Media Index is an annual league table of the 129 tourism bodies in England, ranked according to the best use of social media by their official social media channels.

Of the 129 tourism bodies analysed, 32 are counties and 97 are towns and cities within nine regions of England. This year’s index includes three new additional tourist organisations compared to the 2015 edition.

The English Tourism Social Media Index – part of a wider Social Media Index which was launched in 2013 – is compiled by measuring the social media performance of each tourism body based, not just on an algorithm, but research from a team of five people who looked at nine social networks.  The data was then analysed by a panel of four judges who presided over the final results.

Produced by PR and social media agency Umpf in association with HolidayLettings.co.uk, the Index includes an overall table of all 129 English tourism bodies ranked first to last, a counties table, plus nine additional tables showing rankings based on bodies within Visit England’s nine regions*.

Last year, Visit Wiltshire won the overall 2015 English Tourism Social Media Index, but has dropped to fifth in this year’s table as Visit Cornwall claimed the top spot (see case study below). VisitLondon took second position (up from 3rd last year), with Visit Peak District & Derbyshire (up from 8th last year) rounding off the top three. In the counties table, Visit Cornwall was again the winner, with Visit Peak District & Derbyshire placed second and Visit Wiltshire ranked third.

Six of the tourist bodies in last year’s top ten made this year’s top ten, with eight of Visit England’s nine regions represented amongst this elite group. Notable inclusions in this year’s top ten included Visit County Durham (6th this year, up from 57th in 2015 – see case study below) and Cumbria Tourism (7th this year, up from 61st in 2015).

Congratulations to the tourist bodies who topped the nine regional tables for best social media performance: North East – Visit County Durham; North West –  Cumbria Tourism; Yorkshire & The Humber – Experience Wakefield; East Midlands – Visit Peak District & Derbyshire; West Midlands – Visit Stoke-on-Trent; East of England – Visit North Norfolk; London – VisitLondon; South West – Visit Cornwall; South East – Visit Thanet.

There was small improvement in the average score across the 129 tourist boards, up from 49.6 last year to 50.5 this year.  The largest area of growth was seen in the average score of the bottom 50 tourist boards, which improved by 1.6% from 36.7 to 38.3 out of possible score of 100.

*The 129 tourist boards were taken from the VisitEngland website. Organisations that didn’t have dedicated social channels to tourism were discounted from the list. This index is not produced in association with VisitEngland.

Table

Click the white buttons for the full English Tourism Social Media Index ranking of all 129 English tourism bodies and the county specific table. The blue buttons represent the rankings region-by-region. 
The documents will open into printable PDFs.

Overall League TableCounty Table

Methodology

There are three elements to the methodology, with a maximum score of 100 being attainable. The first element (which accounted for 70% of the total score) was a full analysis of each tourism body’s social channels. The analysis uses data from 25th January – 15th February 2016. 

Scores given at this stage took into account the breadth of official social channels including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Vine, LinkedIn and Flickr. The scores also took into account community growth, as well as engagement on Twitter and Facebook, all weighted fairly to reflect the number of fans or followers the accounts already had.

Other considerations at this stage included a score for the breadth of multimedia content posted on Twitter and Facebook, including video, images, audio, official apps and external links.

The second element to the methodology was the judges’ scoring. Judges marked each tourism body and the combined total from the judges was averaged to give a final additional score for each team. This element accounted for a maximum 30% of the total scoring.

The final element to the methodology was the implementation of ‘Red Flag’ penalties: 2.5% was deducted from the final score for each social media malpractice, including duplicate content, failure to use hashtags, idle periods of four or more days, as well as repeated spelling and grammar mistakes.

This grand total was used to rank the tourism bodies in the 2016 English Tourism Social Media Index.

Case Studies

Visit Cornwall

After finishing runner-up in last year’s English Tourism Social Media Index, Visit Cornwall fought off strong competition to claim top spot. As one of England’s most popular tourist destinations, the county attracts thousands of visitors each year to experience its wonderful cuisine, stunning views and plentiful beaches.

Mirroring its success last year, Visit Cornwall achieved a great data score, including top marks for engagement and fan growth on Facebook and Twitter. The organisation is one of only a handful of tourist bodies who secured no red flags for replication of content, spelling or grammar mistakes, hashtags or periods of inactivity.

Judges were again bowled over by the rich content used to promote the county. Short destination videos, specifically optimised for social, were a clear winner amongst Visit Cornwall’s online community. On Facebook in particular, these achieved fantastic viewing figures and engagements. Visit Cornwall also demonstrated great ownership of the social space by utilising and promoting their own dedicated hashtag #lovecornwall. This was prevalent on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where the tourist body shared the best user-generated content featuring the hashtag – a great tactic to drive engagement and sell the destination through visitors’ user-generated content.

Other improvements from last year includes Visit Cornwall’s use of Vine as a content sharing platform, utilising its six-second video capabilities to promote the destination’s fantastic tourist spots. Posting these across other social channels increased their reach and showed a clear and strategic understanding of how to use the platform. The panel believed this rich content strategy, combined with fantastic engagement across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, made Visit Cornwall a worthy winner in this year’s English Tourism Social Media Index.

Visit County Durham

Leading the North East table, and placed 6th overall, Visit County Durham is one of the most improved tourist bodies in this year’s index after finishing 57th last year, a rise of an incredible 51 places. Known for its breath-taking scenery, quaint market towns and stunning Cathedral, the county is a firm favourite amongst those looking for a relaxing escape.

The destination gained a perfect score for its breadth of channels with its presence on all nine tracked platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Flickr, Vine, Pinterest and YouTube. The tourist body also achieved top marks for engagement on its Facebook page, with a strong showing on Twitter too. Unlike last year, Visit County Durham received no red flags for replication of content, spelling or grammar mistakes, hashtags or periods of inactivity, giving it a much-improved data score compared to 2015.

Judges saw a significant improvement comparable to last year’s results, in particular with the tourist body’s Twitter and Instagram accounts. A dedicated strategy to utilise and maximise reach through relevant hashtags was clear, with industry-relevant tags such as #TravelTuesday used regularly to promote content. Furthermore, Visit County Durham tracks its own hashtag, #LoveDurham, to share user-generated content across a variety of channels.

Producing bespoke imagery is a simple, yet effective tool to drive engagement on social media, and something that Visit County Durham has taken full advantage of to create buzz amongst its communities. Judges were also impressed by their #VoteforLilian activity on social media. The campaign, organised by VisitEngland, crowns an unsung holiday hero promoting their local region as a ‘Tourism Superstar’. The winner is decided by a public vote and Visit County Durham called for support for one of its resident through regular video content.

VisitLiverpool

Coming 2nd in the North West table, and placed 12th in the overall index, Visit Liverpool achieved one of the top scores for an urban area, placed second only to VisitLondon in the battle of the cities. Famous for its rich cultural history and thriving night life, Liverpool has improved significantly on its performance in last year’s index, rising a staggering 73 places (up from 85th in 2015).

The tourist body scored consistently well in the algorithm, with high marks achieved from its breadth of channels used and successes in attaining no red flags. Improving from last year, VisitLiverpool was one of best performers on Twitter, with top marks for response rates and engagement on the micro blogging platform. Community Managers were clearly monitoring the account and reacting accordingly.

Judges were taken in by the tourist body’s ability to get the ‘basics’ right. The correct tagging of other organisations in VisitLiverpool’s posts, across both Twitter and Facebook, showed great efforts to increase the reach of their own content. In addition, the panel was impressed by the regular sharing of local businesses creative content, including plenty of video, to keep the channels fresh and relevant to its audience.

VisitLiverpool has also embraced Emojis by including the popular visuals in their tweets. Well-received among its community, they show a human side to the organisation which gives its social channels great character. In addition to regular content themes, such as the body’s #FanFriday activity where it shares the best images of the city from users each week - judges found the launch of its Snapchat account as evidence of VisitLiverpool’s positive attitude towards trying and testing new social platforms.

This, combined with a solid data score, contributed to their significant surge up the English Tourism Social Media Index.

Judges

  • George Clode

    Travel GBI judge

    George is editor of travelGBI, which is part of the Travel Weekly Group. With a strong passion for all things social and travel, George is also a member of the Tourism Society and UKinbound.

  • Saskia Welman

    HOLIDAY LETTINGS Judge

    Saskia is PR Manager for Holiday Lettings, the UK’s busiest vacation rentals site, owned by global giant TripAdvisor. Saskia has worked in PR and communications for over ten years, specialising in online coverage.

  • Matthew Balmforth

    Senior Account Manager, Umpf

    Matthew is a Senior PR and Social Media Account Manager at Umpf with a keen interest in digital marketing within the travel sector. Matthew has experience across a broad range of domestic and international travel clients and was nominated for the CIPR PRide Outstanding Young Communicator Award 2015.

  • ADRIAN JOHNSON

    Founder & MD, Umpf

    Adrian is the founder and MD of PR and social media agency, Umpf.  The agency is the 2015 Social Media Agency of the Year (UK Social Media Communication Awards).  Adrian launched the Social Media Index in 2013 and overseas all the indices covering Sport, F1 and English Tourism.