On average, people worldwide spend nearly two hours on social media networks every day, and this number is rising! As a travel agent, you can use social media platforms to attract potential customers and build your brand’s reputation.
Social media has impacted the travel industry in many ways, and that includes how people plan their vacations. Statistics show that 52% of people look at social media sites when planning a vacation. By putting your brand on the social media map, you’ll be able to capture these travelers’ attention and increase your conversion rates.
Time spent on social networking sites (Source: GWI)
There are a number of popular social media platforms out there that travel agents can incorporate into their marketing plans – the main ones being Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Whether you want to develop a multi-platform strategy, or focus on one platform in particular, here are some social media marketing tips for travel agents:
Whatever platforms you plan to use – here are some golden social media marketing rules:
- Have a plan – Start by planning your social media activity in terms of an overall goal. Develop some creative ideas that will promote your brand in a unique and effective way.
- Quality not quantity – If you don’t have time to manage multiple platforms, choose one or two that best suit your business needs. If you’re going to choose one, consider Facebook. It’s highly popular, and developing a great company profile will give you a prominent place of your own in the social media world.
- Keep up the pace – Create a posting schedule, and stick to it so that your followers know what to expect. Don’t disappear suddenly or bombard users with multiple posts in a short time (both of those are good enough reasons for people to unfollow you).
- Promote across channels – If you’re using multiple channels, don’t forget to promote across all of them. It’s also a great way to keep your brand active without the need for too much unique content – you can tweet links to your Facebook content, share Instagram images on your Facebook page, and so on.
- Use social media advertising. Many of the popular social media platforms offer advertising opportunities. These are worth investing in to increase your exposure. Concentrate on promoting your content as opposed to services, as this is what people browsing social media sites are looking for. You can also show your social media advertisements to previous visitors to your site – this is called remarketing and is a great way convert people who are already interested in what you offer.
Now that you have a handle on the basics, let’s dive into the specifics for each of the platforms:
Create a company Facebook page, and make the most of it using these tips:
Keep posts short.
In a study performed by entrepreneur and marketer Jeff Bullas, Facebook posts with 80 characters or less received 66% more engagement. 40 characters is the ideal length – with an 86% higher engagement rate than posts of other lengths. Less is more, short is sweet – that’s the key.
Share visual content.
People love images and Facebook is a great place to post them. Striking, attractive images of vacation scenes will stand out on users’ newsfeeds, especially if they are in the middle of a boring workday.
Post useful links.
Don’t just link to your own website and blog. Provide links to useful and interesting resources related to travel. If you go beyond self-promotion and share other people’s content, your followers are more likely to trust your brand. Plus, they will appreciate your genuine desire to give them useful information.
Engage in two-way conversation.
Facebook allows users to comment on your posts and send you messages. Respond quickly and in a friendly tone to show you care about your customers and that you want to engage with them.
Twitter allows you to develop connections with influential people in the travel industry. It’s a great platform for promoting your content, and it can also be used for sharing images. Here are some top Twitter tips:
Use popular hashtags.
The hashtag is probably Twitter’s most defining feature. Use hashtags in your posts to keep up with the latest trends. Make up your own unique hashtags to represent your social media campaigns. Following relevant hashtags will ensure you know what’s going on in the travel world, and let you engage with travelers. One hashtag to use and watch is #traveltuesday, which is used by travelers and travel companies alike when talking about travel.
Follow important people in the travel industry and retweet their posts. You may even get followed back, giving you great exposure. Involve yourself in conversation with users by providing help and advice on vacation-related queries to make your brand name known and respected.
Showcase your customer service.
Respond to and resolve any customer complaints kindly and quickly. Many people use Twitter to complain about a service – and they expect a fast response. Meet these expectations to keep your customers satisfied and earn a reputation for excellent customer service.
As with Facebook, posting images to Twitter will draw users’ attention. According to Buffer, Twitter posts with images get 150% more retweets!
Pinterest allows you to create virtual pin boards. Use Pinterest in the following ways to attract travelers looking for visual inspiration when planning their vacation:
Create useful and interesting boards.
Create itineraries for travelers with individual boards for different travel destinations. Include useful information such as local attractions and places to go for food and drink. STA Travel are a great example of how to do this right – they have tons of boards with travel inspiration.
Use original content.
Don’t rely on pre-existing images. Add your own infographics and photography to your boards which will lead customers to your website or blog.
Invite others to contribute to your board.
Get bloggers and other travel businesses to contribute and create an exciting collaborative board that will reach a wider audience of followers.
Instagram marketing is excellent for building a personal connection with your customers, because it is all about imagery. Here’s how to use Instagram to get more visibility:
Use Instagram filters.
Images can speak to people on a deep level. An atmospheric image, using Instagram’s amazing filters, will inspire customers and show them what your business is all about. Show them a beautiful beachside vacation to get them dreaming of their next getaway – and to make sure they contact you to plan it.
As with Twitter, use popular, relevant, and trending hashtags to make your company known to the right people. For example, if you’re posting about a particular vacation destination, include that as a hashtag, like Jumia Travel East Africa does with #kenya.
Post regularly – but not too often!
Posting between one and three times a day is ideal, to keep your followers interested without crowding up their feeds. More than that, and they might unfollow you for spamming.
Now that you’ve read these marketing tips, you’re ready to get your travel business out there on social media. Whatever platforms you choose to use, engage your followers and keep them inspired –you’ll soon find them booking their next vacation with you.
Want more tips on how to target your audience, get more bookings and thrive in the travel industry? Download our free ebook "The Travel Agent's Guide to Surviving in the OTA Era".