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Because social media is such an organic form of promotion, its uses are as expansive as the imaginations of those using it. Another key element of social media as a marketing tool is that very often it’s the users themselves who create the content – lending it a community aspect that no other form of advertising and promotion can match.
Lots of industries have embraced social media to push their products and services, and to give their online presence a new dimension. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are now invaluable for companies, giving their customers an easily accessible forum to give their thoughts and experiences of the company.
One industry which has harnessed the power of social media to great effect is the travel industry. So much so, in fact, that we’ve decided to give the rundown of five inventive ways that the travel industry has done so.
1. Competitions and promotions
Like any business, promotions and competitions are used to great effect by the travel industry. Whether the prize is a romantic getaway or an unforgettable cruise on the Independence of the Seas, people flock to take part in competitions.
And social media has now opened up these types of promotion to everyone. No longer do you need to mail in or text or call to enter, you can now simply ‘Like’ a Facebook page or send a tweet. Lots of travel companies are using social media competitions to boost their followers and ‘fans’ on Facebook – and it’s working very well. Exodus Travels currently have a great example of a Facebook-based competition on their page. And CruiseDeals.com (Social Fresh Cruise partner) always has promotions and contests of some kind going on their Facebook page.
2. Special offers and group deals
Much like competitions, special offers and group deals on sites like Groupon are a great way to boost brand awareness and spread the word of the company. Embedded in these types of promotion are strong reasons for consumers to share the deal, and in turn your brand, with friends and strangers.
Companies in the travel industry have started to list flights, hotel stays, tours, cruises and packages on group deal sites. USA Today has a great writeup with some worthy tips for consumers on this trend. This has allowed them to increase offer takeup by offering large discounts to large audiences at an insane pace – raising company awareness in the process.
In the past businesses would need to rely on direct mail and other more ‘physical’ marketing methods; social media has now reduced overheads significantly. The future of group deal sites like Groupon is unclear, but even if the trend subsides, travel companies will likely continue to embrace these campaigns.
3. SEO and boosting awareness
Search Engine Optimisation is the process by which companies increase their online presence in order to make their way up to the top of search results. Social media plays a growing role in this these days, as more and more people fill the social networks with chatter about that company.
By launching viral videos, articles, webinars, infographics and other consumer-distributed content, the brand’s name appears more on the web, and so SEO effectiveness and brand awareness increases. Lots of travel companies have used content marketing to boost their business in just this way.
One great example was the ‘Best Job in the World’ competition to win a job as “island caretaker” near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. They produced and distributed videos to promote the contest and then applicants produced videos and blog posts applying and promoted their own content, linking to them.
4. Customer reviews
There aren’t many more effective forms of advertising than word of mouth. Any customer will take the word of one of their peers over that of a company talking head any day of the week. Social media aids here by giving travel companies an outlet for their happy customers to wax lyrical about their great service. Of course, this process has a dark flip side of the coin, but like all things, you have to take the rough with the smooth. Expedia is partnered with Trip Advisor, one of the greatest examples of user reviews driving the travel industry.
5. Engaging with customers on a personal level
In the past there was always a divide between business and consumer, especially in the travel industry. It was often ‘buy a package holiday, go home, job done’ – there wasn’t much interaction.
Now, of course, social media has allowed these companies to connect to their customers on a personal level. The travel industry now has a personality; and that can be directly attributed to social media. When customers feel listened to, they’re usually a lot more satisfied – and that can only be a good thing for the travel industry! We can’t give you a single link to highlight this point, but visit any of the Facebook pages of the big travel companies and you’ll see an active business/consumer relationship in action (try Lastminute.com’s Facebook page for size).
How have you seen the travel industry use social media recently? Let us know in the comments.
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