Sylvan Lake hopes to bring attention to town through social media

The new Tourism Marketing Strategy has a focus on bringing visitors to town year-round

Sylvan Lake’s new Tourism Marketing Strategy will have an increased focus on social media to draw people in throughout the year.

The purpose of the new three-year strategy is to draw visits, and spending, to town during the off-season, according to Sean Durkin, recreation manager with the Town of Sylvan Lake.

For the last year the Town has worked with Stormy Lake Consulting to draft the new strategy, and has found social media activity to be particularly lacking.

“When we talk about ‘brilliant all year’ at the present time, we’re not. We need to provide more events…” Durkin said during the Dec. 9 meeting of council.

The new Tourism Marking Strategy hopes to use social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to draw visitors from the larger centres such as Calgary and Edmonton.

To do so, Durkin says increased events and posts during the off season will need to happen as well.

“More events are already in the works with our event and festival strategy. We have been talking about events like pond hockey tournaments and ice fishing derbies in the winter season.”

An issue with drawing visitors from further away is the focus of social media posts, which Durkin says is largely resident driven.

Posts are also largely personal stories, with little likelihood of them going viral and drawing more attention.

Influencers, those with at least 1,000 followers on a social media channel, are not coming and posting about Sylvan Lake, Durkin says.

Durkin said they put the idea of influencers to the test during the Bull Riding Finals when ticket sales were lagging.

“We took six influencers and gave them small copy, the largest of those was Colin Fraser who has 25,000 followers on Twitter. From there we did sell out on Saturday…” said Durkin.

He continued to say Sylvan Lake is “dwarfed” by Abraham Lake and Jasper National Park on social media.

Durkin used these two nearby sites to exemplify the power influencers have on social media.

“It’s not that we are doing poorly, but when you look at Abraham Lake and Jasper they both had two influencers visit that each have over 32 million followers from Asia.”

The hope is to have more residents posting on social media year-round to encourage others to visit.

Durkin says the Town is also looking at providing training to business owners on how to be tourism ambassadors for Sylvan Lake.

He says it could be as simple as telling guests and customers about events, great places to visit in Sylvan Lake or places to eat.

“We have a game plan that we think will help to distinguish us from other locations,” said Durkin.

The Tourism Marketing Strategy was made to include initiatives identified by the Travel Alberta ShiFT Program 2019, Central Alberta Tourism Alliance (Destination Management Plan 2016), Economic Impact Assessment 2014 and the Visitor-Friendly Action Plan 2014.

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