For those in the travel industry, social media has become an important resource for growing and maintaining their businesses. With new features continuously being released on social platforms, it’s important for travel advisors to keep up-to-date on how they can maximize their presence, engage with their existing clients, and gain new customers.
To that end, Janet Bava, chief marketing officer at AmaWaterways River Cruises, led a breakout session during the Travel Marketplace East 2019 conference in Toronto last week, to provide insights on how advisors can leverage new trends in Facebook and Instagram to grow their travel sales.
“Talking to travel consultants, some of the questions I get asked the most are, ‘Where do I get started?’ and ‘How can I use social media to sell?’” said Bava.
She briefly mentioned the myriad social media networks that people use today, but she specifically focused on Facebook and Instagram, because “it’s not about being everywhere, it’s about being where your clients are.”
She described Instagram as a more visual medium that is driven by photos and images, while Facebook is more of an all-around content-driven platform. “If you don’t want to invest dollars just yet in social media, no matter how big Instagram has gotten, it still is a great opportunity to grow your followers organically,” said Bava.
“While Instagram keeps growing and growing, and tends to skew younger in terms of demographics, Facebook is still the largest platform, with more than 60% of Americans [with an account].”
Mistakes to avoid
She discussed some of the most common mistakes people make when posting to social media, and how to avoid them:
- Don’t download images off the internet and post them as your own.
- Avoid discussing or sharing anything political or inappropriate. If you wouldn’t say it to your client, don’t post it online.
- Avoid errors by checking spelling, grammar and punctuation before posting.
- Keep posts relevant to travel and your expertise, and focus on destinations and experiences.
- Do not over-post. Try to space out your posts to once a day, so as not to oversaturate your follower’s feeds, but to make sure they see your posts regularly.
One of the most common pitfalls travel advisors fall into is thinking that all of the content they post on social media should be promotional. But this can be a major turn-off that could end up with a reduction in followers.
“People will tune out. Just like we tune out displayed advertising, people will tune out on your posts,” warned Bava. “Don’t over-post. Instead, focus on quality over quantity.”
The rule of thirds
Before posting to social media, Bava advised travel professionals to focus on following the “rule of thirds” to avoid being overly promotional. It is best to plan for one-third promotional posts, which are experiences you recommend and why, as well as any special offers that your followers can take advantage of for being a part of your network. Make another third of your posts conversational, including items that encourage your audience to engage in a conversation, which can be anything from asking your followers a question or even using a poll functionality to gauge preferences. And finally, make one-third of your posts about sharing, which includes writing about industry news or cross-promoting with your favorite suppliers.
“I do see some travel advisors that focus just on the promotional posts,” said Bava. “They get too focused on this and they lose out on engagement and they end up losing followers, because you’re not providing anything of value to them. Don’t inundate your followers. Please do not focus on selling an offer, but really try to focus on balancing your content and posts between promotional and engaging content.”
One surefire method to stimulate user engagement is to ask questions and start conversations. “Another thing that I feel we don’t do enough of is engagement and conversational post questions,” said Bava. “You’ll see in a lot of AmaWaterways posts that we always start off with question or end with a question, because we want to engage the audience. If a post just has a statement, no matter what that post is, it’s never going to do as well as a post with a question mark, because you’re going to get a lot of comments, and people naturally wanting to respond to those questions. These conversations allow you to gain insight into who your followers are.”