November 1, 2020 – Lessons from Rimac – and no, it is not on how to build an electric supercar. A look at how official Croatian tourism video promotion is largely ineffective and costly. But doesn’t need to be.
Last summer, a friend sent me a link to one of the most beautiful videos I have seen promoting Croatia – pianist Lola Astanova performing solo on the tip of the famous Zlatni Rat beach in Bol on the island of Brac.
Perfectly shot, stunningly performed by a beautiful artiste, there are few better videos online to show the magic of the Adriatic.
Take a look for yourself.
The story behind the video has that Lola was in Bol to perform at the WTA Bol Tennis Open. She apparently absolutely loved Croatia and did a lot of free promotion on her Instagram during her stay (with over 4 million views). She was due to record this video in Venice, but she was persuaded by her new friends on Brac to record it on Croatia’s most iconic beach instead, and she covered all the costs of shooting and directing the video.
A fantastic and free promotion of Croatia, generated from an initiative from the private sector.
Looking at the video statistics over a year later, the video has had 855,333 views, with some 14,000+ likes and 857 comments. Some serious social media engagement.
“When you have a moment,” said my friend, “take a look at the national tourist board videos and their engagement.”
It was a comment which stayed with me and went onto the never-ending to-do list of mine – one which I will never completely overcome.
Music and Croatia’s fabulous coast are the perfect combination, something that 2Cellos have used to their advantage on more than one occasion with their fantastic global promotions of their native country. How about this stunner from Dubrovnik back in 2017, for example? More than 42 million views, 532k likes and more than 12,000 comments. promotion which would give even Kings Landing itself a run for its money.
When I saw this video, I was reminded of my friend’s comment to check national tourist board engagement, but it still remained on my to-do list until this week, after watching THAT Mate Rimac video for the second time.
The Rimac video had EVERYTHING, easily the best promotional video of Croatia I have seen in a long time. Apart from promoting the tourism beauties of the country, its major focus on why Croatia is a great place to work and live is hopefully the start of a discussion to move Croatia’s tourism direction on a new path built on safety, authentic experiences, lifestyle, and digital nomads. In just over a week, the Rimac video has had over 125,000 views, 4,900+ likes and over 700 comments, many of which were extremely positive about Croatia.
I smiled at the end of the video at the slide thanking the national tourist board for use of their footage in the making of the video. Rimac is a smart guy. Why reinvent the wheel (I guess he invents enough of his own in his day job)? If you can get fantastic footage for free, interview a few employees at the office, then throw in some footage of those amazing Rimac cars, the production cost of the video is going to be very affordable.
It also shows that the stunning footage exists in the official archives. And, as the Rimac production team showed, it is possible to use that footage to create something very engaging and positive, promoting many aspects of life and work in Croatia, as well as tourism – on a budget. Perhaps the Rimac team threw some money to boost the video. I would be surprised if yes, and it certainly got a ton of organic traffic and media space, so there was really no need.
But really great engagement again. When I saw the national tourist board footage slide at the end of the video, my friend’s comment from last year came back into my head, and I decided to finally take a look.
Having written about the heroes who run the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism for a decade now, there is nothing about their efforts that shocks me anymore. I truly have seen it all.
Or so I thought.
For when I looked at the Croatia, Full of Life YouTube channel and compared it to these outstanding examples above, what I discovered was truly staggering. Expecially when one considers what must be at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in social media promotion, in addition to the cost of the videos themselves. Having looked at the channel for 5 minutes, I realised that in order to understand and analyse what I was looking at properly, I would need some industry expert help. I posted such a request on Facebook, and a social media marketing expert from a major Croatian tourism company (who asked not to be named) offered his services, including generating some data on the videos. Thank you, Sir – you know who you are.
(Croatia Full of Life YouTube screenshots above, and more below)
I decided to start at the top. What was the most popular official video of all time? Wow! An impressive 22 MILLION views. Very, very impressive.
Until I saw the engagement.
Have you ever come across a video on YouTube with over 20 million views which has just 76 likes and 7 comments (including those of the original poster)?
Nor had I. The second most popular video of all time. Again, an impressive 12.2 million views, but just 71 likes and just 4 comments (including those of the original poster).
If a car maker, a pianist and a couple of cellists could get so much engagement and reaction, liking and sharing of their videos, how was it possible that the Croatian National Tourist Board was getting so little love for its videos? As Rimac had proved, they had the material, and he had shown how to use it. My new online data analyst friend offered to run a report on the 12 most popular videos of all time on the official national tourist board channel. Here is what he found.
Pageviews – seriously impressive But engagement? Only one of the 12 most popular videos in terms of views with more than 80 likes? And a total of just 32 comments over 12 videos and over 120 million views?
And you don’t have to make the world’s fastest electric car or be the most famous cello duo in the world to get engagement. Here is my little contribution on Hvar 5 years ago, when I managed to persuade a couple of YouTubers to go for a swim in Gariful’s underfloor aquarium, complete with baby shark as part of a report they did on a visit to Croatia’s premier island. Some 4.5 million organic views later, it is now the most popular video about Hvar on YouTube, with engagement of 92,000 likes and more than 5,000 comments. I personally have answered at least 10 emails from tourists on Hvar asking me where to find the restaurant so they can go for lunch.
This screenshot from the official YouTube channel gives us some clues. The same video, posted in numerous languages 8 months ago. The German version, posted twice, has 274,000 views in total, while the Italian one was just viewed 109 times, and the French one a lamentable 61 times. The only explanation, my data expert said, is that the German version had been heavily promoted through a paid campaign, while the Italian and French versions were examples of how the organic traffic looked. Not quite the same as Rimac or Lola.
Indeed, of the 43 videos posted in 2020, over a third (15 of them) have less than 1,500 views. This despite the channel having almost 19,000 subscribers.
Time for another report, said my new friend. In 2020, the national tourist board has apparently posted a total of 43 videos (actually not 43 unique videos, as several have gone out in different languages – each video in a new language is counted as one). And here is a summary on engagement compared to Lola on Brac, 2Cellos in Dubrovnik and Rimac in Sveta Nedelja. Almost 30 million views over 43 videos, which sounds ok until we examine just how much of that is paid promotion below, just 1650 likes over 43 videos (even after paid promotion) – the one Rimac video is already three times higher than all 43 official videos combined as it now approaches 5,000 likes.
And ZERO comments. How can that be possible?
Quite simple, if the comments are turned off. I don’t know much about online promotion, but if you pay to get people to watch a video to then engage, where is the logic in blocking people from doing that by not allowing comments? Perhaps to mask the embarrassment of lack of comments when they were switched on – see above with a total of 32 comments for the top 12 videos of all time.
Even more curious is the wasted opportunity of using the description to provide a call to action, a chance to engage further. Take this example from a Croatian tourist board video in Polish with over 1.4 million views, but just 17 likes, no comments possible, and no link for further information.
Now look at this example of how someone in the private sector does it:
This is how Rimac promotes not only his video, but also his company. He guides people through the video with a helpful timeline. But look at the other options to engage further, with a range of calls to action.
It really is not that difficult, especially as I understand that all this work is outsourced by the national tourist board to a third party. After all there are only 70-80 people working fulltime at head office, so who could possibly have the time to take on such a task?
Interestingly, given that the national tourist board has a policy of not promoting any material from private businesses, the Rimac video was shared on official channels 6 days after it first appeared online. Great stuff, and I hope this is the start in a change of policy. I had to smile to compare the level of engagement on the official national tourist board social media of the Rimac video and then compare it to the engagement to its own record-breaking video with 22 million views.
So how many likes SHOULD a good video get to indicate how well it is received by its audience? A quick Google search, as well as a question to my new friend, came to roughly the same conclusion:
Like to View Ratio Although likes aren’t taken into consideration when it comes to monetizing your video, it doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Likes will determine your popularity. On average, YouTubers should expect a 4% like to view ratio. That means they should be getting at least 4 likes for every one hundred views. Likes are usually given by people who find your video informative and engaging. If your videos are not getting a high enough like to view ratio, consider an alternate approach.
So Croatia’s most popular official video with its 22 million views should then have almost 1 million likes if it was hitting the mark.
It has just 76.
If your videos are not getting a high enough like to view ratio, consider an alternate approach.
So how much is all this costing in terms of promotion, to boost these videos that nobody is engaging with?
A Google search reveals a number of prices per view, but my friend suggested a more conservative number of between $0.01 and $0.03 per view. For the sake of this article, let’s stick to the conservative end of that (while acknowledging that the amount could be three times higher, or more), so $1 per 100 views.
Given the lack of engagement and the French and Italian examples above, it is fair to assume that almost all of the traffic is therefore boosted by a paid campaign. Looking at 2020 alone, my friend came up with this. Almost 30 million views so far this year. If the price is $0.01 per view, then that equates to $300,000. If the amount is $0.03 per view, however…
And this, of course, is just the cost to Google. Add a nice fee to the agency doing the work, and let’s not forget the costs of actually producing the material.
And for what end result? A product nobody engages with, with restricted chance to engage via comments and no call to action to find out more information (not in every video, but in the vast majority I checked).
There is another tool of measurement I was unaware of – the cost of engagement. How much should it cost for a successful campaign of engagement?
Cost Per Engagement can mean too many things to many people, so there isn’t really enough data that is comparable to average out. It’s usually not much, however. According to Quora it can be about $2, and according to Reddit, you can pay around $0.01.
A lot more than $2. As a huge disclaimer, these are suggested numbers based on the expert analysis I was given. I invite the Croatian National Tourist Board to transparently publish the amounts spent on these promotions, as well as their interpretation of the results. There are always two sides to every story. Well, almost always.
By way of comparison, IF Rimac, 2Cellos and Lola were just promoting their videos with paid similar paid promotion (Lola’s management has confirmed all views and engagements are organic, so her cost of engagement is $0), it would compare like this, above. Well within the recommended amount, so they are clearly doing things right. The engagement cost is actually much lower, or even zero (as in Lola’s case at least) due to the huge organic traffic.
So somewhere between $0.01 and $2 then is average. My data friend told me that the calculation as he sent me the above report – page views x 0.01/likes, dislikes, shares and comments. And this price of $169.82 is assuming a conservative ad price of $0.01. If it was $0.03, for example, then the number would be over $500 per engagement.
So what have we learned from all this? And is our tourism promotion money being used effectively?
Lessons from Rimac – we have the material, we need creativity to get the message out effectively (actually let’s take a step back, we have to figure out what our message is – the golden era of accidental tourism is coming to an end), calls to action and engagement work.
We also have the experts in the private sector who can take tourism promotion to the next level for a fraction of the cost of the cash being thrown wastefully at the moment.
Let’s use them.