Reaching your audience on social media and email

Contentsscreenview of a smartphone with a thumb clicking on the instagram app

  1. Digital marketing on social media
  2. Social media management tools
  3. Digital marketing through email


Social media and email are essential for digital tourism marketing. Understanding how to market on social media and emails, as well as what you can learn about your customers, will help you hone your tourism marketing strategy and make it truly fit for purpose.

Digital marketing on social media

When it comes to digital tourism marketing, social media platforms have become a huge part of the landscape. They are incredibly powerful tools for engaging with potential customers and building your own online community. Most platforms are also free to use, making them a cost-effective way to reach your audience.

The marketplace is massive. According to recent statistics from, the biggest platforms are Facebook, which currently has 2.8 billion users worldwide, followed by YouTube (2.2 billion), WhatsApp (2 billion), Instagram (1.3 billion) and TikTok (732 million). The total number of social media users is expected to hit over 4.4 billion individuals by 2025 – approximately half of the world’s population.

Which platforms you decide to focus on will depend very much on your business. Some businesses will be better suited to using imagery and video on Instagram or TikTok, while others might work better on more text-based platforms like Twitter.

Social media content is designed to be shareable, exposing your business to new audiences and increasing brand awareness. Hashtags are a vital way for users to find and engage with your content on social media. They provide a shorthand for users to link and find similar content e.g. #vanlife, #woodlandwalks, #summerholidays, #greatmuseums. 

The use of ads is another reason social media is such a powerful tool for digital tourism marketing. Most platforms now offer paid advertising services, which can be carefully tailored to particular users based on their location, interests, followers and even their purchase history. These adverts can drive more traffic to your website, through calls to action and links.

Like every aspect of digital marketing, social media takes time – so it’s sensible to choose one or two channels and focus on them. For example, customers can interact with you directly by ‘tagging’ you, sending direct messages (DMs), or giving feedback; responding to this kind of communication can take up a lot of time.

New features are also frequently released on the different social media channels, which means you have to stay up to speed with the latest developments in order to get the most out of them.

Case study: Leeds Museums & Galleries

"We regularly reference the popstar Harry Styles on social media and link it back to our museums - a really popular thread matched Harry’s outfits to items in our collection. Through making references to popular culture and being playful with this content, we’re showing audiences unique objects in our collection, while also being fun and not taking things too seriously – because museums are fun too!

We have carried our Twitter tone of voice through to some recent digital marketing campaigns, for instance our summer campaign in 2020 was called ‘Ey-up Leeds’ and aimed at a local audience as COVID-19 restrictions were being lifted. We also released our first podcast, Museums n’That. We are now recording series three and the podcast has been really well received, with over 11,000 downloads to date."

What are the different social media channels?a person looking down at their phone


A multipurpose social media platform where tourism businesses can create pages to share news and information, and where customers can also leave reviews and interact with companies directly. People use Facebook for many reasons, including its Messenger and Marketplace features.  


A social media platform for photo sharing. It has evolved to allow long-form video sharing (similar to YouTube), advertising and shopping features.


A messaging app, primarily for one-to-one messaging and group messaging. It can also be used by tourism businesses to communicate with customers.


A platform for sharing short public statements, known as tweets. Users can follow their friends, celebrities, charities and businesses for the latest updates and opinions. Since its launch over 15 years ago, it has also evolved as a platform to allow image and video sharing. As is now a common feature of many social platforms, hashtags (#) connect users with specific topics and interests.


The world’s biggest video sharing and hosting platform. Users can create their own channel to share videos and build a following. Videos hosted on YouTube can be embedded in your website.


The most recent social media platform to gain a large user base, TikTok is designed for short video sharing. It has a range of features for anyone to create and share videos, and an emphasis on fun and humour.


A social media platform for creating virtual pin boards where ideas and inspirations are collected, from what to make to where to go. Tourism businesses can create their own Pinterest profile and pins, and it can be a way of driving more traffic to your own channels for customers looking for inspiration.


An image messaging service. It has a range of features for quick image editing and sharing, including using augmented reality. Companies can have public Snapchat profile pages, similar to Facebook and Instagram, and advertise on the platform.

Case study: The Collection, Lincolnshire Museums

"Both Facebook and Instagram reach the largest audiences, are quick and easy to use and are the easiest way to let visitors know what's going on. Through our shared attraction account @lincmuseums, TikTok has allowed us to reach new audiences, not just our local visitors, but a worldwide audience too! 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, digital content has played a key role in the way we have communicated and connected with our audiences. We took a tongue-in-cheek approach, showcasing our collection with wider themes popular on the platform. A video about the Tom Otter nutcrackers – an ordinary item with an extraordinary past – was a great hit, with almost 1 million views. Visitors have also come to Lincoln Castle to look out for Wayne, from our ‘Words with Wayne’ TikTok series."

exterior of The Collection museum

The Collection, Lincolnshire Museums, Lincolnshire County Council

Social Media Checklist

  1. Decide which social media platforms are suited to your particular business and concentrate on those. Visual platforms like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube are popular as they tell the story of your business in a direct, engaging, entertaining way.
  2. Include links on social media to your website to help boost traffic.
  3. And, vice versa, include links to your social media channels on your website and in any email communication, allowing customers to easily follow you.

Back to contents.

Social media management tools

Social media management tools can make it easier to manage your social media accounts, especially if you have more than one.

These integrate your various accounts into one dashboard, so you can see the separate feeds all in one place. You can also use them to schedule posts and ads to go out at specific times.

They can be very useful as a way of managing your time more effectively and for automating posts outside of business hours or when you are on holiday. They can also help spread out the frequency of your posts, to make sure they reach your target audience at the right time.

A few of the most popular tools include Buffer, Hootsuite, Later, ContentCal and Sprout Social. There is generally a basic free version, with paid packages offering more advanced features.

Case study: Elm Tree B&B

"We’re really active on Facebook and Instagram and try to post at least once a day. It’s really important to be keep things fresh and interesting for your audience, whether that’s new pictures, latest developments, decorative changes or seasonal updates; one week I posted about clearing up the autumn leaves!

We really encourage people to interact with us and give us feedback, for example getting people to post reviews, or post their own pictures with a hashtag back to our own account. Using targeted hashtags can be very helpful too: all our posts get tagged with #visitlincoln and #visitlincolnshire, for example, as well as #lovelincswolds, which is a hashtag we developed with several other local businesses. Creating those communities is a big part of our business."

exterior of Elm Tree B&B

Elm Tree B&B, Lincolnshire

Digital marketing through emailperson wearing glasses and a straw hat looking down at smartphone in a train station

Digital tourism marketing is all about connecting with customers, and emails are a great way of doing just that. Going to people where they are and giving them valuable content is the key.

Through a healthy email database, you can provide customers with updates about your business, encourage them to visit your website through a call to action or ‘CTA’, like a special offer, discount or survey, or build brand affinity with invitations to share their own stories and experiences.

Analysing the data every time you send emails also provides information about your customers – for example, what kind of content generates the most engagement (such as click-throughs to your site or conversions). 

Newsletters are the most common form of email marketing. You can send updates daily, weekly, monthly or just occasionally – but it is important not to bombard your users with too many emails, which can be off-putting.

You must also remain informed about GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations), which protect the collection of personal data and individuals’ right to privacy.

You may choose to use an email marketing tool like Mailchimp to handle your subscriber list and compose your newsletters.

Tools like this are useful as they provide detailed metrics on the performance of your email campaigns: telling you how many people have read the email, clicked on links or made purchases after reading it.

Email marketing tools can also avoid your emails getting flagged as ‘spam’.

Case study: Black Country Living Museum

"Facebook and Instagram are highly visual platforms, and enable us to reach a family audience – but TikTok has been phenomenal in reaching ‘Gen Z’ who often don’t visit museums. TikTok has given us a place to bring our characters to life, and mashing up history with memes to trend in a unique and engaging way. We started on the channel in August 2020 and it’s been a massive success for us, garnering 1.3m global followers and reaching 30m people across the world.

One of our most successful videos was an explainer on the dangers of adulterated foods in the Victorian period. It prompted lots of discussion on history in the comments and used a trending sound in the background, helping lead people to the video."

Digital Marketing Through Email Checklist

  1. Inform yourself about GDPR and comply with the most current rules.
  2. Outline the content of your emails clearly in both the subject line and headline.
  3. Ensure your emails are optimised for mobile devices.
  4. Always provide a text-based version of your emails for those subscribers who prefer not to receive HTML-based emails.

Back to contents.