Your Social Media Priorities for the New Year
by Sophie Bujold

The latest in a series on social media marketing by travel industry consultant Sophie Bujold.

Dubbed by many as the year of social media, 2012 brought about many changes and developments in the online world. As we move on to a new year, I want to offer five ingredients you should include in your social media marketing planning.

#1. Focus

Sophie Bujold

2012 saw major evolution in the social media realm. Among key developments: the arrival of important new players, changes in site policies, a rise in privacy concerns, mergers and acquisitions and much more. As a result, many businesses and consumers are feeling the competition for their attention.

A correction is bound to happen, and 2013 will be the year for it. As a result, consumers and businesses alike will have to choose where to focus their attention. It’s inevitable.

For small businesses, this means really honing your purpose and goals. Once you’ve done so, use these to guide you in identifying your audience, choosing the networks that best serve your goals and really tuning in to the opportunities that will move you forward.

#2. Strategy
It’s no longer enough just to have a social media account and use it. That only makes you part of the crowd. If you want to shine, having a game plan and working your plan is a must.

This requires knowing your audience, figuring out where to find them, then reaching out and engaging with them.

Yes, this will take time and dedication. But the days of getting by on social media, whether by operating on autopilot or making half-baked efforts, are over.

#3. Integration
Most socially successful travel businesses make social media marketing an organic part of their business.

For instance, it’s become as natural for them to check Twitter throughout the day as it is for them to check email. If the business has a team, everyone is encouraged to participate, not just the select few in charge of marketing.

For many, this takes a significant shift in thinking from the top down. But it’s not impossible. As long as the management team gets behind the process and offers the appropriate training and infrastructure – that means including social media activity as part of the job, not as an aside – it can be done.

#4. Collaboration
You’re not the only one trying to make an impact with social media. Thousands of other small businesses are trying to do the same, and many are banding together to amplify their efforts.

If you haven’t considered collaborating with other businesses on efforts such as cross-promotions, guest postings, affiliate programs and the like, this is the year to do it.

Find businesses that talk to similar customers, then offer them as much value as you would get from the partnership. It needs to be a win-win situation. With a bit of imagination, this could take on forms you never before considered.

#5. Value
As people become more selective about their online activities, they will seek out those they associate with the most or that give them the most value for their time.

You can capitalize on this by making sure you respond to their needs. Offer more of the things your audience craves and less of what they don’t and you’ll be on your way to success. If you’re paying attention to your audience already, this should be an easy task.

Sophie Bujold is a social strategist who helps travel professionals achieve online success. She is the creator of Take Flight With Facebook, a social media FAM trip for Facebook marketing. For more insights from Sophie, visit her website and sign up for free weekly email tips.

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Tip of the Day
Remember that your travels, too, are part of this important aspect of provenance. Hard-copy photo albums or visuals on a smart phone can be part of the sales process where your photos, selfies, and home-made videos show where you've been and what you've done.
 
Steve Gillick
President, Talking Travel
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Source: Condé Nast Traveler

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