many travel professionals, social marketing and media has proven its worth.
Those who have succeeded using Facebook, Twitter and the like to generate
business are actively engaged by being both creative and authentic. No
doubt, the fundamental marketing tactics of local, community oriented public
relations, networking and advertising are far more important and necessary to
most travel agents than any social marketing efforts will ever be. However,
layer your social marketing tactics on top of a solid foundation of fundamentals
and truly excellent results can be the order of the day.
works? Firstly, narrow your social marketing platforms to one or two and then
become an expert. Once you decide on a media choice, make a study of it and
work hard at perfecting your online persona, and the ins and outs of the
technical side of the media. Assist others with learning as well. Be useful to
others and your online reputation will soar.
interesting. These platforms demand creative content. The best travel
companies at social media inspire their followers. Part of being creative and
engaging in social marketing is accepting the fact that not all feedback will
be complimentary or even gracious. You, however, need to be
complimentary and gracious. Everything you say can and will be used against you
in the court of public opinion. Keep in mind that you will live with
your posts, so think twice and choose wisely.
make friends and gain followers, be a friend and be a follower. Everyone is a
peer in social media. When you follow others, they are more likely to follow
you. Participate and engage. Exchange ideas. Forward good ideas to others with
proper credit and take part.
fun with social marketing. Most importantly, be a human first and a marketer
secondly. Facebook, Twitter and online forums are all about relationships.
Don’t forget to inject every ounce of personality you can muster into your
efforts, filtered by an intelligent professional persona – a balancing act but
crucial. Know your demographic well and speak with it – not to it. Remember to
engage clients in conversations, not one-way commercial dialogue. Give them a
quick a reason to speak with you – remember it’s all about them and the benefit
stream out a constant flow of “travel specials” to your audience. Boring!
Demonstrate your expertise. Help out with problems. Talk to issues about which
your community cares. Every now and then, let them know about a truly amazing
special if one is out there for them, but the point, as Nolan Burris reminds
us, is to socialize. If you come across as though you are trying to monetize
your position or their attention, the community will turn you off.
and cross-reference your brand through the various media you use. If you
are using Facebook, build a Page as well as a Profile and feature
your website. In your Twitter profile, customize the page with your logo and
place your website URL in your profile. On your website, give people a chance
to join you on Twitter. Go back to basics and look at your mission
statement – make sure that you are clearly articulating who you are and
what your company is all about in each of your new social marketing efforts.
politics: post at your own risk. The divisive nature of politics almost
guarantees you will alienate approximately 50% of your readers. If that is your
goal, go for it. If not, stick to travel. Keep your business and personal profiles
very, very separate.
globally, act locally. Next, think locally and act globally. Smart travel
agents adopt a marketing mind-set, constantly looking at and exploring new
possibilities for raising their brand profile. Certainly you can market “to the
world” using social media. But for the vast majority of travel agents, the most
important community is the one that is within 50 miles of your office or house.
Include your local market into your social media world. Seek out early adopters
and users in your home town communities and your social marketing efforts will
have a far greater impact.
some time learning the fundamentals of marketing and them applying them to
social media. Be authentic, be creative and have fun. That is a formula
that easy to comprehend and strangely demanding.
Richard Earls is the Publisher of Travel Research Online, an online travel industry resource dedicated to enhancing the professional lives of travel agents.