You may have a couple of accounts set up and you’ve got some smart objectives and goals in place, so what’s next?
CONTENT is KING.
How well you do on social media depends on your content. It’s extremely important to analyse social trends, competitors and your target audience to determine what content they value (i.e. are willing to share, like, interact with).
Analysing the activity of your competitors may provide you with some insights into what content is more viral or valued than others. Your content should also provide some value to the end user – always keep these questions in mind; why should your target market like your page, do you offer service updates, package deals, information on the latest industry news etc.?
So what social media ‘tools’ are available for you to use to engage with your target market?
Here are some of the more popular ones for the tourism sector:
Facebook is heavily based on content. When using Facebook, here are a couple of good tips:
- “Think like a boxer” – The goal is to have three lightweight interactions (some fun, light-hearted, inspirational, beautiful, fun fact comments) then punch strong with a more overly commercial offer i.e. a deal, sales pitch etc. Keeping in mind, you must keep your ‘tone’ or voice, conversational in nature and consistent with your brand.
- Be a good publisher of content that is popular in the newsfeed. Because what is popular in the newsfeed is where you will achieve the best “earned media” and brand building.
- Post some fantastic images. Images can tell a whole story much more effectively as they communicate on a more cognitive and emotional level. Posts with striking images are, on average, 2.2 times more engaging than text.
Twitter enables you to send short, 140 character messages to the ‘twittersphere’. Many in the tourism sector use Twitter to share facts, news and experiences.
As a tourism operator, you can use Twitter to:
- Keep up with industry news and influential people
- Build industry contacts
- Gain brand exposure in a causal, social and personable environment
- Monitor your online reputation and engage with your fans and/or prospects
- Share quirky facts about what happened on your tour, in your region, what delicacies you have in store, the weather, traffic hazards/road closures etc.
This tool provides you with a lot more than just directions. In fact, these maps are now highly interactive which means you can key in your destination and search for a type of business (for example, “local restaurants”) and it’ll provide you with a list of businesses meeting your request in the area you searched for.
Users of Google maps can now see photos, videos, customer reviews, contact details and even other places of interest. Google Maps can also be integrated onto your website and Facebook.
It is extremely important to make sure, as tourism operators, that your details are up-to-date and as concise as possible. If you don’t take the time to update your details, you could be missing out on valuable business.
Remember, Google – once just a brand, has become a verb too. People ‘Google’ everyday looking for information. It’s imperative that your details are 100% correct.
YouTube is a free video-sharing site, allowing users to manage, host and share video content through the web. Having a YouTube channel allows you to share and embed video content via other social media channels and on your website.
As tourism operators you can create short quality videos about your property, give people a guided tour, or showcase guest experiences with your product. It is a site where consumers talk to consumers; it isn’t an area to ‘advertise’.
For example, if you’re a B ‘n B, and you also happen to offer fine dining, why not film yourself or the chef cooking up a storm in the kitchen? It’s quirky, it’s ‘thinking outside the square’ and it’s providing potential clientele with a real-time experience and useful information. You can then share this story through your other social media channels.
Pinterest has become the third largest social network after Facebook and Twitter. It’s built off a simple ‘pin-board’ metaphor, where users can instantly clip/pin pictures of things they discover.
For those in the tourism industry, you could use this social media tool in two useful ways:
- It’s a fun and easy way to create a list of monuments, beaches, establishments and products in your region, or of your business
- Pin boards provide a rich source of information. Every day, your potential clientele are looking for inspiration, so they browse thousands of travel-themed boards, devoted to everything from Australian wineries to the Great Ocean Road.
A picture paints a thousand words.
TripAdvisor is the perfect social media tool to help manage your online reputation.
It is the world’s largest travel site, with tens of millions of travellers visiting each month to research and plan their trips. If you have an accommodation, restaurant, or attraction business, your property can be listed for free!
Being on TripAdvisor will increase your business’ exposure to a large, qualified audience and give you access to many free marketing tools.
Once upon a time we relied on travel agents for information and advice on the best place to stay, however we now heavily rely on the ‘wisdom of friends’. TripAdvisor and Facebook seamlessly overlap – which means any user on Facebook can incorporate their networking on TripAdvisor, and they can see where they’ve visited or stayed and what their feedback was.
TripAdvisor has shown itself capable of making or breaking tourism establishments. Dissatisfied customers who once told stories of bad travel experiences to their friends and family can now tell the entire world. This too can be said about any other form of social media – hence why it is vital to monitor your online reputation.
Blogs are essentially a website designed in the format of an online journal. It can feature many posts, articles, photos and videos, and provides the perfect platform for your potential client to comment and ask questions.
From a third-party perspective, blogs are perceived as an extraordinary market research tool. It can provide an unlimited source of up-to-the-minute information which conveys what people think, how they feel, what matters to them, what encourages them and what turns them off.
Blogs are the biggest resource for user-generated content, and just like websites and TripAdvisor reviews, they get indexed by search engines.
Finally, let’s touch on Google+. Launched in June 2011, Google+ is a social media outlet run by Google. You can share content with your ‘Circles’, be involved in discussions, post photos, and take part in video conference calls (called Hangouts). Google+ then introduced ‘Pages’, giving another opportunity for businesses, products and brands to have an online presence.
Google+ Circles help you organise everyone according to your real-life social connections i.e. ‘business contacts’, ’family’ or ‘friends’. Segmenting contacts makes sharing your products, services or news with the right ‘circles’ hassle free.
The Hangouts feature distinguishes Google+ from all other social media tools. Hangouts are a one-click video conversation that lets you bring up to 9 people into a video chat.
Google+ is the perfect vehicle for showcasing all that’s great about your organisation – especially in the tourism sector by uploading photos, writing enticing descriptions and even showcasing tour videos and interviews with staff. Take advantage of the “Bragging Rights’ field to highlight your organisations most impressive achievements or awards (like the NSW Tourism Awards) and include links to your TripAdvisor page and other social network profiles to create a comprehensive promotional platform for your hotel.
Much like the Facebook Newsfeed, Google+ allows you to receive information updates from the people and organisations you choose to follow online. However, as mentioned previously, the individuals and businesses you are interested in can be grouped together and categorised into specific “Circles” to give you greater control over the updates you receive and easier access to the information that really matters to your business.
For example, you might want to create a brand circle for other hotels within your brand’s chain to keep up to date with corporate news, or maybe stay in the loop with other tourism operators in your local region, pick up ideas about packages and promotions that could be perfect for your organisation.