Travel professionals choosing to use Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to market pretty quickly learn what works in their favor and what does not. I am more often hearing success stories from travel consultants who are finding social media an excellent way to stay “top of mind” with their clients. Unfortunately, I am also seeing an increasing number of posts many in the social media world would deem socially unacceptable.
As I’ve indicated in the past, social media is only one marketing tactic of many. However new and exciting the venue, certain marketing fundamentals apply regardless of the platform. Below is a reminder of a few pitfalls I often see haunting new social media marketers. As you read through the short list below, note that the issues are applicable to not only social media but to any marketing effort.
- Once you undertake a marketing tactic, work it using a plan. Actively manage your Facebook or Twitter account. Haphazard or inconsistent postings will not have the impact you might otherwise achieve. Find the right balance of posting frequency, not too often nor too seldom. Post a couple of times each day, and have something important to say! Devote some time to setting out your goals and your commitment to achieving those goals using the same skills serving you well in your other marketing venues like public relations, advertising or networking.
- Don’t be overtly commercial in your efforts. A constant stream of advertisements for your travel practice or, worse, for suppliers, will cost you followers and waste your time. Spamming your community with one travel special after another will quickly lose you friends. Think about how you mingle at a party or any professional networking opportunity. Social media has a very similar dynamic.
- Choose your post topics wisely and post carefully. We all have political, religious and closely held beliefs. Remember your parents cautioning you about discussing religion and politics? As divisive as these topics can be, you risk alienating at least 50% of your potential constituency with ill-chosen topics. If you are trying to restrict your clientele to a particular political, social or religious stripe, then, by all means, post away.
- Engage your fans with useful information, with pictures, with information. Converse with your community. Social media is a two-way conversation, so be a good conversationalist! When your fans comment on something you post, “Like” their comments when possible. The back and forth engagement stimulates the interaction and your clients’ impression of your brand.
- Learn the ropes! If you are going to use social media, learn the basics and beyond for each media. I’ve seen many travel professionals operating with far less than the full compliment of tools. Your professionalism will be on clear display and social media is one further “point of contact” where the public and your clients will encounter your brand. You need to demonstrate a level competence far greater than displayed by your consumer community.
The risk of social media is one of its key strengths: it’s “free”, tempting many of us focus less than the appropriate degree of discipline to its mastery. Make a study of your chosen social media venues. Giving each its due respect will help to ensure you receive the rewards each has to offer the creative travel professional.