Unless you’ve been completely off the grid, traveling deep in the Amazon jungle or wandering the dunes of the Empty Quarter for the past 10 years, you surely know that social media is a marketing and communications bonanza for travel advisors. But social media is not one size fits all.
Each platform has its own community culture, posting protocol and image size specifications. Here are some tips for travel agencies on how to effectively use three popular social media channels.
If you only have the time and resources to be active on one social media platform, Facebook is the one to choose. Most of your clients and potential clients are already there, making it ripe for developing an active Facebook community around your travel brand.
• Post drool-worthy images of fabulous destinations to inspire travel.
• Share advice and tips to establish your brand as a knowledge resource.
• Ask questions and offer polls to learn about your community.
• Use Facebook ads to market exciting travel offers. Create custom audiences of your existing client list and use Facebook’s powerful ad targeting options to reach prime potential clients.
Twitter is a lightning-speed social channel best for getting up-to-the-second news, trend spotting, and providing or requesting customer service – all in 140 characters or less. It’s a great platform for promoting original content because likes and shares propagate your post far beyond your existing network.
• Share links to blog posts, infographics or white papers to gain “Klout” as an expert and drive users to your website.
• Participate in one of the many regularly scheduled group travel chats to grow your community and build relationships with travel suppliers.
• Keep promotional offers or sales to less than 20% (one in five) of your tweets. Twitter is more about conversation than outright selling.
• Include one or two pertinent hashtags on each tweet to make it 33% more likely to be retweeted, and attach a relevant photo to receive up to 313% more engagement.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the photo-sharing app Instagram can be an epic narrative to get followers dreaming about beautiful travel destinations. In fact, 48% of Instagram users rely on Instagram to find a new travel destination.
• Post only high-quality images that will captivate your followers. Avoid stock photos and blurry images.
• Share images from your staff’s own travel to highlight the advisor’s personal experience, and company events to humanize your brand.
• Extend your reach by leveraging trending hashtags. Use up to 30 relevant hashtags (9 – 10 is optimal) to make your post searchable and visible to others using the same hashtag.
• For efficiency, schedule your posts with Hootsuite or Buffer. Instagram doesn’t allow those tools to automatically post, but you can set up everything in advance, then post with a couple of taps on your phone.
Other platforms that are a good fit for travel agencies include Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ and Snapchat. Plus there are over 200 more niche social media networks!
You can’t work them all, so identify the ones where your target clients are active, then only develop as many channels as you have time to do well. Having one dynamite community is better than spinning your wheels to manage five channels and getting little to no engagement on any of them.
Beverly McLean is the director of social media at Covington Travel in Virginia. She manages communities on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube; writes the company’s Travel Maestro blog; and is a published travel writer.