When was the last time you went more than a few hours without checking your phone for notifications? Whether it's a message from Whatsapp, our favorite brand’s latest tweet or breaking news from our favorite digital newspaper, we always want to make sure we are not missing out on a single thing that’s going out there in that big, wide world.
And while all of this offers us incredible opportunities that go beyond our wildest dreams, it also offers these opportunities to anyone else who seizes them - making it that much more difficult for us as marketers to truly create a connection with our target audience.
Over the past few years social media has become an essential part of really almost any company’s marketing strategy - but even more so for those companies in the travel industry. When advertising in the travel industry, inspiring, motivating and gaining your users’ trust is of the utmost importance. It has very quickly become one of the most important tools in travel marketing.
Why exactly should my travel brand be on social media?
You may be asking yourself, with so many brands out there with the same goal, is investing in this worth the effort? As marketers in the modern age, we need to be exactly where our audiences are, and if they are on social media - which is undeniable - then that is exactly where we must be. These social networks give us a priceless and unique opportunity of quite literally placing ourselves inside our user’s pockets.
Studies have shown that 92% of consumers trust earned media above any other form of advertising. While other forms of advertising are created by a team trained to bring out the best and brightest in a brand, earned media is user-generated content, coming from real experiences and opinions, which users value above all. Another study by Hospitalitynet.org shows us that 71% of Millennials say that they trust User Generated Content 50% more than any other source of information, including TV, newspapers and magazines. Social networks are one of the very few ways that your audience can publicly engage and interact with you and your advertising.
With the incredible amount of scams and misleading advertising out there, combined with the unprecedented ease in communication from any point around the globe, people have become extremely skeptical towards many forms of traditional media - and will be sure to do some thorough research before deciding to trust a brand.
The truth is that travellers are not impulse buyers - they will investigate almost all aspects of their journey before deciding to make that final leap and book their holiday. There is an entire process of choosing a destination, a method of transport to get there, a travel company, accommodation, how long to stay and what to do while they are there, and it is important to stick with them every step along the way to be able to stand out at the end of the day when the time comes to make the final bookings.
So let’s take a look at exactly how each of these social media channels can help with advertising in the travel industry.
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Facebook: the social media giant
No matter how many new and trendy social networks pop up over the years, and how popular they become, there is not yet one who has managed to rival Facebook’s reign. When it comes to sheer numbers, there is no denying that Zuckerberg’s network is a force to be reckoned with: according to the latest data collected in July 2016, Facebook currently has 1.7 billion unique, active users logging in every month - literally 23% of the entire world’s population. This means that no matter what kind of audience you are reaching out to, you are bound to find at least some of them here.
And the good news for marketers in the travel industry is that it seems that travel and tourism plays a very large role in the Facebook world - according to the Social Times, 52% of users admitted to dreaming about vacations and travelling when on Facebook (without even having any trips planned), and 76% of social media users post vacation related status updates and photos. It is a great place to make people fall in love with your pictures and brand, and get them to share it with their friends - 52% of users also said their friends’ photos inspired their travel plans.
But Facebook has another very significant advantage for travel companies which is not to be overlooked: the ability to leave official reviews based on your previous experiences. Once you have created a Facebook page for your brand, be sure to invest effort in organic reviews and content as well, and not just in paid advertising. Connect also with people who have already bought your product or services, and you will watch your community grow - and with it your sales. According to Smart Insights, 80% of people are more likely to book a trip from a company “liked” by a friend than through a conventional Facebook ad.
Twitter: Timing is everything
If the world moves fast, Twitter moves even faster. Known as one of the most instantaneous social media of all, it is the place where people go to stay up to date with everything that happens in the world - Twitter is about as Real Time as it gets. And although its dizzying speed can be quite scary - as advertisers, we can use this feature to our advantage. While Twitter may not be as visual and dreamy as other social media such as Instagram, it is a place where people go to learn and communicate, and considered a professional, trustworthy source.
It is where people will take the opportunity to tell all of their community of friends and followers about the amazing (or terrible!) time they are having in a hotel, on a train or while lounging on a paradisiac beach, both before, during and after their actual journey. This becomes extremely important when we see that according to Social Insight’s study, 51% of people say that Twitter content influenced their consideration of a travel brand. What your users tweet about you matters, and it matters just as much that they tweet about you at all. Travellers are 44% more likely to learn about a new travel brand on Twitter than other social networks, so make sure your presence in the Twitterverse is known!
And if you want to take this whole idea to a whole other technological level, there are tools you can use to help you. By using the Twitter Tech Marketing tool (T2M), you can create real time ads, which essentially insert dynamic fields into your tweets, such as price, images, or destination. What this means is that your tweets will automatically retrieve information from your feeder to show the lowest available price of the moment - they are real time and dynamically changing along with your current rates. In the past, these dynamically priced ads have been able to double conversion rates.
Instagram: Dazzle users with your images
Instagram is the home of the visual, the creative, the stunning. There are currently 500 million active monthly users, and a remarkable amount of pristine and awe-inspiring images of every beautiful nook and cranny our big and amazing world has to show us. SocialMediaToday has proved that 48% of users rely on Instagram to find a new travel destination, and 35% use it to discover an entirely new place.
So if they are already there to figure out where they want to go, why not offer them ideas, or even how to get there, where to stay or what to do, while they’re at it?
As for user-generated content, Instagram has a whole universe of untouched and genuine content that will make others fall in love, and that you can use to promote your brand and services. And not only can you use things that are already out there, but you can prompt and encourage user-generated content by initiating contests and giveaways by asking users to post their content using specific hashtags you have created.
If your budget allows it, you can also get in touch with the worshipped Influencers of Instagram, and get them on board with making your brand known among their flocks of devoted followers.
Just keep in mind, people are on Instagram to be swept off their feet with the incredulity of content and images - be sure to inspire your followers rather than advertise to them!
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the immense and different ways social media can help you with your travel marketing, and of its incredible potential to boost your brand! It can be quite overwhelming however, so just let us know if you need a hand!
Written by: Chantal India
Image by: Ryan Loveland