Asia Minute: Social Media Influence Questions in Australia

Dec 27, 2018

Credit Blogtrepreneur / Flickr

Every travel destination uses marketing to reach an audience of potential visitors. That includes the Hawaii Tourism Authority, as well as the government of Australia. But in the case of the land down under, there’s a bit of controversy about how some of that marketing money is being spent.

There are all kinds of ways to try and attract customers for a product. Selling a location as a travel destination means convincing people they should visit.

Australia’s government wants to do that, and it has experimented with different strategies.

One involved social media influencers — those whose posts on YouTube and elsewhere can sway the opinions of others, and perhaps their travel budgets.

Earlier this year, Australia spent more than 9,000 U.S. dollars on a pair of videos with an Australian woman highlighting a couple of cafes in Seoul that serve Australian food — and a surf shop in Busan.

Opposition politicians were puzzled.

One Labor Member of Parliament said “When you watch them, it’s pointless. It doesn’t seem to promote anything that would help the Australian economy.”

Matt Keogh went on to say “It’s not promoting Australian business, it’s not promoting people traveling to Australia for business or for tourism — the point of these videos is left missing.”

Credit Lachlan Fearnley / Wikimedia Commons

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was the idea of the Australian embassy — which wanted to highlight Koreans who had studied in Australia. But Labor MP Keogh said “it doesn’t even promote Australian businesses that are in Korea.”

In any event, due to some inconsistencies with other cases, the government of Australia has now stopped using social media influencers as part of any official campaigns.