I’m certainly no expert at marketing my travel practice. However, I have found that using Facebook and other social media networking sites are extremely beneficial to the success of my practice. I started working with facebook around the end of 2008 but didn’t begin to really use it until mid-2009. I started with about 20 friends in about 30 days. When I really thought about what I had, it clicked in 2009 and I “worked” it. Sixteen months, over 1,670 friends and over 300 fans later, I see the success! The trick is you must interact with your friends/fans about topics OTHER than travel on a regular basis. Doing that, they get to know YOU and that’s when you begin to build relationships and trust.
What is my success? Right now for 2011, I have 15 group cruises, 5 individual cruises and more vacation packages than I can handle alone. I also have 2 group cruises already for 2012. Two of those groups include a 500 passenger and a 1500 passenger group. Where did they come from?? Facebook.
Most of my life has been the same story. When it comes to many of my skills, they are self-taught. In other words, I did not learn them in a classroom. Such is the case with social networking. Let’s be real; I’m part of the baby-boomer generation – toward the end of the generation! Technology is not easy to learn, but its something that I love and I know it can be successful for any business.
As I do lots of research and take lots of classes, I find differing opinions on the proper use of social networking. Some I follow and most I don’t because I’ve found what works. Just having an account doesn’t work. I talk to many agents who tell me they have an account/page and don’t see anywhere near the success I’m having. My first question to them is “how and how often do you use it”? Their responses are varied, from posting a couple times a month to posting once a week.
CLIA defines social media networking as “using the internet to meet people to whom a brand or product can be exposed”. How often do you see the green gecko? Do you know what brand he represents? That’s exactly how you have to be to expose your brand and product. If people don’t know what you do and aren’t familiar with who you are, guess what? They more than likely will not support you. Your goal has to be to get people to think of you first when it comes time for them to travel.
I actually use seven (7) different applications/methods every day and many more than that less frequently. But here are 10 tips to guide those uses:
1. You have to use multiple applications to be successful, including blogs
2. Your goal is to establish credibility
3. Promote your brand and website everywhere you can
4. Don’t discontinue your use of traditional marketing; maintain the human touch
5. Follow routines and stick to them!
6. Keep your posts short and simple; no one wants to or has time to read a short story or novel
7. Monitor what colleagues are doing
8. Use photos and/or videos to capture attention
9. Ask questions and offer opinions to maintain interaction
10. Be honest!