Welcome to Borkum, the largest East Frisian island and located about 30 kilometres from the German mainland. You may not currently be able to travel to Borkum because of travel restrictions during the pandemic. But thanks to social media, you can still visit Borkum.
It’s as simple as following the Borkum Instagram account. But wait, there’s more! In 2019, Borkum created a second Instagram account for the island called Mein Borkum. This account is dedicated solely to Instagram takeovers.
Every week, a different person takes over the account to share their impressions from the island. Tourists, regular visitors and locals can all apply for a takeover. The only stipulation is that you must be on the island during the week of your takeover.
A good mix of content
But even if you’re not chosen for the Instagram takeover, you can still share your impressions of Borkum and get seen by using the #MeinBorkum hashtag (“Mein Borkum” simply means “My Borkum”).
Borkum uses Walls.io to collect all Instagram posts that are tagged with #MeinBorkum. Combined with posts from the official Borkum Instagram account and, for good measure, posts from the Borkum Facebook Page, this creates a great mix of sources for the social wall, which is also embedded on the island’s website.
The content on the social wall, both user-generated and posted by the Borkum marketing team, gives glimpses into the island’s beautiful vistas as well as providing important updates about travel and events. Additionally, some local businesses also use the #MeinBorkum hashtag to promote their service or give insight into their everyday lives and jobs.
Promoting Borkum with user-generated content
We’ve recently had a chat with Daniela Kastrau, Head of Marketing and Communications at Nordseeheilbad Borkum GmbH, to find out more about the ongoing Instagram takeover and the role social media plays for the island as COVID restrictions impact tourism.
Head of Marketing and Communications, Nordseeheilbad Borkum GmbH
What role does social media play in your overall marketing?
We primarily see social media as a tool for customer retention and interaction. This has become even more important for us during COVID-19 and the related bans on travel and tourist accommodation. Social media also allows us to provide real-time information, and we now distribute updates about COVID guidelines regarding travel to Borkum etc. on our social channels.
Your #MeinBorkum hashtag campaign is an ongoing Instagram takeover campaign. Could you tell us a bit more about that?
The #MeinBorkum hashtag was created specifically as a takeover platform. We want to show authentic and believable content, rather than just official photos and videos created by the marketing department.
The combination of the #MeinBorkum Instagram takeovers and the social wall also serves as motivation for our locals and guests. Either they choose to apply for a 1-week takeover of the account, or it inspires them to use #MeinBorkum for their own posts, which then land on the social wall as well.
How are you using the social feed to promote Borkum? What are you hoping to achieve with your social wall?
We’ve not yet promoted the social wall in a big way, but we’ve prominently embedded it on our website www.borkum.de. We will mention and display the wall in our 2022 holiday brochure. The wall will also be promoted in our upcoming annual report, which is sent to every household in Borkum and can be viewed online.
Your social wall is embedded on the Borkum website. Are you also showing or planning to show your feed on screens somewhere on the island?
Unfortunately, we don’t currently have any screens where we’re displaying the wall. However, we’re planning to set up digital steles in strategic locations around the island. It would be possible to display the social wall on those.
All of this is part of a large project called “Digitalisation of the Tourism Service”. But because of the current situation, it’s unclear how soon these ideas can be implemented.
What are the challenges you’re currently facing with the COVID-19 pandemic’s harsh impact on the tourism industry? Does social media help you combat the loss of interaction with visitors?
Social media is our main connection to our guests and any potential new visitors. Those who already know Borkum appreciate our content because they’re longing to come to the island again. We often hear from them in our comments and our direct messages as well.
German tourism has been growing in the past years but has particularly flourished during the pandemic. For example, we noticed quite an uptick after the first lockdown in 2020 when people were allowed to travel again.
During this time, social media has become an important channel for customer retention. It keeps us visible and present in people’s minds, which keeps us competitive.
Takeaways from Borkum’s social media strategy
While Instagram takeovers are a common practice in social media marketing, the idea of giving an account dedicated entirely to takeovers is fairly novel. By setting up a separate account for takeovers, Borkum has created a continuous source of user-generated content.
Together with posts from the Borkum Facebook page and the “official” Borkum Instagram account, content pulled via the #MeinBorkum hashtag creates a rich tapestry of impressions that draws visitors to the island.
An easy first step towards digitalisation
Digitalisation, while necessary, is often a slow process in the field of tourism. It takes time and a concerted effort to push innovation through, especially when many stakeholders are involved.
A good social media presence and a social wall can be quick and easy first steps towards making your destination more accessible and advertising it to a wider audience. A social wall is easy to set up and embed on your website and adds a wealthy source of fresh and current content to your static site.
It makes it easy to deliver updates and important information to potential guests and makes it possible to collect and display user-generated content from those who have already visited and become fans of your destination.
This, in turn, will attract more people because user-generated content works well as a tool to convince others that something has value.
Want to see what you can do with user-generated content? Set up a social wall and start collecting those posts from your fans.