Written by Allie Schratz
In January, Tourism Australia hit a major landmark when they secured two million worldwide fans on its ‘See Australia’ Facebook page. This boosted the page to claim two titles: the largest Australian page on the social media site, and the most popular destination page in the world.
“With almost three times as many fans as our nearest rival, Las Vegas, we can effectively demonstrate our country’s continuing appeal to both Australians and people overseas,” said Andrew McEvoy, Tourism Australia’s Managing Director, in a press statement released soon after the milestone was hit.
The Facebook page, first launched in May 2008, quickly garnered fans as photos of Australia’s native animals attracted ‘likes,’ comments and shares, according to Tourism Australia. In 2011 alone, the page’s fan base grew by 855,000 new members.
The big moment came, however, when Project:12 was posted on the page: a short video created by editing together fans’ iPhone recordings of themselves celebrating NYE in Sydney this past 1 January. Within three days, the number of Facebook fans shot up by 85,000, breaking the two million mark.
“To achieve two million fans is remarkable, and hasn't happened by accident,” said McEvoy. “Through Facebook we get real stories about what people are currently thinking about Australia which influences our marketing and makes the platform a primary interaction point with our global advocates.”
Recognising the branding power of the social website medium, Tourism Australia has big plans to harness this power and apply it to its holiday marketing strategies.
"To be relevant, Tourism Australia has to provide compelling content and to deliver impact we have to use the channels where consumers are researching and booking their holidays – and today, that's online,” McEvoy acknowledged.
Before 2013, Tourism Australia hopes to garner at least three million Facebook ‘likes’ from its growing fan base. According to Nick Baker, Executive General Manager of Consumer Marketing for Tourism Australia, more than 20,000 photos have been tagged with the #SeeAustralia Twitter hashtag, which in turn have been shared and ‘liked’ on the Facebook page. “We will continue to strive to deliver content that will encourage our 2.1-plus million fans to share with their network of 250-plus million friend connections,” said Baker. “Tourism Australia will continue to look at new ways and platforms to encourage the sharing of travel photos and experiences to perpetuate positive advocacy about travel to and throughout Australia.”
In addition to these well-known social media outlets, Tourism Australia will explore other ways to reach out to potential travellers.
“We are continuing to develop our presence on Instagram, where we currently have 3,200-plus followers,” said Baker. “We will also look to grow Tourism Australia’s presence on social platforms in international markets, such as Sina Weibo and QQ in China.”
Q&A: Professor Loredana Padurean, Asia School of Business
As someone who is creating Asia Pacific’s business leaders of the future, what do you believe are the essential skills leaders require?
In many ways, we need leaders who are Renaissance women/men or polymaths, as opposed to specialists of an industry or a field. A polymath is a person with profound knowledge, proficiency and expertise in multiple fields and today’s leaders have to be able to combine various ideas, look at problems in novel and useful ways, and develop a broad and yet still deep set of skills, talents, and knowledge.
You’ve coined ‘smart’ and ‘sharp’ as skills of the future. What are these?
They are replacements for ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, a concept coined by a US Army doctor in 1972 who observed that his pupils had different skills: dealing with machinery required ‘hard’ skills, while dealing with people and paper were ‘soft’ skills. This concept has served us well since, but I find it too binary, not to mention the semantic implications of the words themselves.
Soft implies gentle, delicate, mild, quiet, tender, weak. However, there is nothing soft in navigating competing perspectives and cultures, handling and delivering critical feedback or dealing with office politics. Instead, I prefer to call these skills ‘smart’. Hard implies rigid, difficult, heavy, static. But how can we think of engineering or software development as static or rigid? I believe ‘sharp’ is more apt as such skills need constant updating or sharpening.
I think it’s time to reflect on these classifications, because we can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something.
How important are smart skills in leadership today?
Smart skills are more important than ever because we live in a world of extreme diversity: generational, ethical, value-based, gender, etc. Gone are the days when giving an order was an effective act of leadership. I personally work with people from five different continents and across five different generations, therefore as leaders, we need to know how to adapt, motivate, inspire and connect. We need to increase our investment in learning about them in action, especially as smart skills are more difficult to develop.
I believe that a successful leader today has to be both smart and sharp. Take cognitive readiness, one of my top 10 smart skills. In order to be cognitive ready, one has to master system dynamics, one of my top 10 sharp skills. Also, did you know that one of the primary reasons why digital transformation fails is not the absence of digital literacy, a sharp skill, but the need for more validation and adaptability, both smart skills. So, instead of thinking of these skills as binary, I prefer to think of them as the yin and yang; co-existing and complementing each other.
So, you can teach leaders smart skills then?
Yes, you can, via a combination of the classroom experience, plus an action component supported by deeply embedded reflection. At ASB we call this Action Learning, and we teach it both in the MBA and in the executive programs. For example, in teaching a leader emotional maturity as a smart skill, first they need to learn what it is, and then act on it, before reflecting on what we did and how we did it. And then to repeat it, but this time with more expertise and awareness. It’s not easy, but that’s why my favourite mantra is ‘the job is easy, the people are not’.
Discover Professor Padurean's successful skills for a digital transformation here