Having a successful social media strategy can help you turn likes into dollars. Today, business and social media go hand in hand, whether it’s to promote your product, provide customer service or attract new customers. Experts at Travel MarketPlace in Toronto, Canada, last week helped guide travel advisors when it comes to best practices using social media. Here are some highlights:
1. Post original content.
There’s nothing wrong with reposting an industry-related article, but “focus on original material, because that’ll keep your readers coming back,” said Keith Tomasek, social media consultant and lecturer at Western University. You’ll get more engagement – comments and shares – by posting original content, as well as more followers.
But remember: be concise. If it’s easy to read, it’ll get more attention. A good rule of thumb is three pictures or less, and about 20 lines of text.
2. Be relatable.
Showing your human side and your voice makes it easier for consumers to connect with you.
“Stick your face out there once and a while so people recognize you. You can be humorous and playful, it makes you more relatable,” Tomasek said.
Ron Cates, co-founder of Constant Contact, offered up similar advice during his session, citing a Harvard study that said consumers spend 67% more money with you if they like and know you. “Be real, be transparent, be authentic about what you’re selling,” he said.
3. Take advantage of hashtags.
To expose yourself to a wider audience, utilize hashtags – they're a great way to get your posts in front of people who may not be searching for travel.
Natalie Taylor, a content and social media producer, advised agents to use specific hashtags and tag other outlets as a way to boost followers and potentially gain new clients. Post a picture from a destination you sell using the hashtag #SunsetSunday, for example. She also recommended using no more than three hashtags on Twitter; for Instagram, feel free to add more in a comment below, but not in the caption. “Don’t clutter your posts with hashtags, pick the ones that are most important.”
4. Utilize multiple channels.
Cates emphasized the changing media and marketing landscape. We now communicate through multiple channels. Instead of just emails, it’s important to use several – if not all – forms of social media and digital marketing.
This is easier than it sounds. Since most people will only follow you on one or two outlets, feel free to repurpose the same content. If you’re creating a longer post on a blog or Facebook, let's say, take an excerpt and post it on Twitter.
Email and social media work incredibly well together, Cates said, highlighting that email is still growing and has the highest return on investment. With people checking their mail multiple times a day, email marketing is a way to monetize what you’re putting on social media.
5. Stay relevant.
Social media can keep your name in customers’ minds as they think about booking their next trip. While it can be time consuming, it doesn’t have to be a second job. Schedule posts throughout the week.
It’s also important to focus more time where your audience is. If your clients are over the age of 45, maybe Instagram isn’t the place for you, and Facebook or Linkedin is a better option.
6. Focus on video.
Video is exploding, Cates noted, and it gets up to eight times the engagement that pictures do. While video might sound intimidating, travel lends itself to visuals that can easily be recorded on an iPhone.
“People buy through visuals,” Taylor said.
Try recording a short video on your next fam trip at a luxury cruise or resort and post it on Instagram, or use Facebook live to stream a tour of a destination.