Going for the Gold – Winning Social Marketing | Travel Research Online


Going for the Gold – Winning Social Marketing

Are you loving the bird’s eye view of the Olympic action?  I’m loving the determination and focus of these athletes.  Just making it to the Olympics is a feat unto itself, but imagine the dedication it takes to win a medal.

We all know about the 10,000 hours theory–that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in an industry or sport.  I’ve read that Biathlon athletes start training at 8 or 9 years old.  Mogul skiers hit their peak at 23 to 26 years old.   That’s the time frame these athletes have to accomplish their 10,000 and get onto the Olympic podium.

Thankfully, most of us have a 30+ year career to build our expertise and gain our 10,000 hours as travel and tourism experts.  What if we had a social marketing ‘podium’ in our industry? How would we get onto that podium?   Let’s explore what it would take to earn the Bronze, Silver and Gold medals in social marketing.

Can you imagine careening down the ski hill at break neck speeds?  That’s about as fast as social marketing changes.  We’ll dive into the assets and strategies we have today to get us onto the podium with full understanding that the speed of change is as fast and furious as a mogul race.


Bronze Medal

Social media mavens prepare and train for the Bronze with the following tactics.

  • Regular posting schedule

Posting on a regular basis is key to maintaining viewership. Whether you post 4 or 6 times a week or once a day, getting into a rhythm (like that mogul skier) will help your momentum and grow your relationship with your fans.

  • Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar is like an athletes training schedule.  Having a plan in place and working that plan provides consistency and eliminates surprises.  Here’s a sample that you’re welcome to use.

  • Photos

Imagine training for a skating competition and having your coach share photos of a perfect jump.  As invaluable pieces in the training puzzle, photos are also invaluable pieces of the marketing funnel.  Here’s some tips and tools to create shareable images & graphics.


Silver Medal

The Silver Medal winners are a hair faster or a tad more graceful than bronze winners.  As social marketers they’re on their way to success with these attributes.

  • Wow-worthy graphic images and quotes images

Silver medalists have taken their graphic and image creations up a notch with specialized tools of the trade.  Like athletes, having the right equipment makes a difference.  Check out these image creation and editing tools.   Here’s some custom graphics you’re welcome to use and share on your own social sites.

  • Polls & Questions

I wonder if athletes question their coaches about the effectiveness of their diet, conditioning and rest periods. Socially, there are so many options to ask your fans opinions and learn more about how you can best serve them.  Whether you’re using polling features on your social sites, surveys or simply asking great questions that beg to be answered, you’re building your knowledge and understanding your fan’s needs.   Asking relevant questions will earn you a place on the podium by growing your engagement and ultimately your reach.

  • Content creation

Have you seen some athletes that seem like a natural in front of the TV camera?  I’ll bet they’ve thought about a few key stories they want to relay to the reporter.  Creating your own unique content is a great way to get into the spotlight and earn a place at the top of your clients’ list of experts.  Whether you’re writing a blog or an article for a print publication or creating video your unique story will help you take the lead in our noisy, crowded world of social marketing.


Gold Medal

These winning athletes have earned their place on the podium, and in history, as role models exemplifying the best of the best.  Social marketers who take their skills to this level are the ones we all look to as role models.  These golden social mavens continually up their game and build stronger relationships with new tools and new ways of using available assets.

  • Content repurposing

Do skaters practice yoga?  Do bob sledders lift weights?  You bet!  Do social mavens use a variety of skills to pull together great content that they can use in a variety of different ways?  You bet!  Just because a bob sled champion doesn’t lift weights during his event, those weight lifting sessions give them strength to get a fast start.  Just because a social maven produces a great You Tube video, that doesn’t mean the video can’t be used in a blog post, on a website and in an e-blast.  Making the most of your assets gives you more traction to get out front.

  • Understand and leverage your Analytics

Understanding the styles of your curling opponents gives you a glimpse into their upcoming strategy.  Understanding your social audiences helps you put together content they’ll relate to and then reward you with the coveted likes, comments and shares.  There are so many tools to measure, analyze and test that it’s becoming as much of a science as ice management is to curlers. Here’s what to measure.

  • Video; live and native video

Social marketing is careening down the video ski jump.  Facebook is currently rewarding marketers with increased reach for any type of video.  Facebook Watch is a video on demand service that’s described as a platform for funded, premium shows and episodes that could create a more serialized viewing experience for the Facebook audience. (Source)

  • Targeted ad audiences

If you’re a ski enthusiast, would you really want to be forced to watch any other sport?  As a marketer we want to show people ads that appeal to themHighly targeted ads are the gold medal winners.  Split testing and developing assets that appeal to a variety of fans will keep you on top of your game.

  • Partnerships that Pay

Do you even wonder which athlete is going to get their photo on that box of cereal that stares at you every morning?   Facebook and PayPal teamed up  to enable users to purchase items through Facebook Messenger.  PayPal has recently announced a new feature that will allow Facebook users to send or request money from our friends, entirely via Facebook Messenger.  What a great way to collect your trip deposits or plan to go fees!


How to Lose your Spot on the Podium

If you want to ensure your place at the back of the pack or not even on the Olympic team, these tactics will get you there.

  • Posts that focus only on sales, promos and special pricing
  • Posts that lack any semblance of humanity or humor
  • Ignoring the value of video or being afraid of getting in front of the camera
  • Like Baiting, Engagement baiting, Share baiting, etc.
  • Other tactics that keep you out of medal contention


In our competitive world being ‘in the game’ is the start to being ‘on the podium’.  Athletes and social mavens are similar in their quest for the gold in that they plan and execute with the precision of an Olympian.

In our competitive world being ‘in the game’ is the start to being ‘on the podium’.  Athletes and social mavens are similar in their quest for the gold in that they plan and execute with the precision of an Olympian.

catherineheegCatherine Heeg, international speaker and trainer, focuses on social media marketing & communication for the travel and tourism industry. Join the conversation and connect with her at www.cmsspeaking.com and socially. Connect online for access to free social media resources.

When you ‘like’ her Facebook page you’ll have access to the latest social media news just for travel pros!

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