i. Why Invest in Social Media
ii. Which Channel is Best?
iii. Finding and Creating Content to Share
iv. When to Share and How Often
v. How to Share
vi. What to Consider When Running a Social Media Campaign
vii. Social Media Apps & Productivity Tricks
ix. Setting Up Your Website for Social
i. Why Invest in Social Media?
The biggest challenge with online marketing today is building a community of followers to interact with. Social media can help you do this over time by taking advantage of audiences already available to you. You can build your brand awareness, create more direct relationships with your followers and drive traffic to your website or app.
The more opportunities you have to reach a larger, targeted audience the more your bottom-line will benefit from your efforts.
If you’re investing in a content marketing strategy, one of the best ways to get your content out into the world is through social media.
ii. Which Channel is Best?
Top Three for Hospitality & Travel: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Top Choice for E-Commerce & Food: Pinterest
Top Choice for Proving Authenticity: YouTube
Facebook is the largest social media channel on the web. It should be a part of your social strategy.
Some of the most successful travel & accommodation brands on Facebook with the largest audiences include: Princess Cruise Lines, MyrtleBeach.com, Go RVing, Paris, ARIA Resort & Casino, Holiday Inn Express, Hot Cakes and Joe’s Crab Shack.
Average Age: Average user is 41 years old. 65% of users on Facebook are over 35. source
User Growth: Overall, 71% of internet users are on Facebook, a proportion that represents no change from August 2013. source
Twitter is the place to have conversations, track trends and connect with people directly and publicly. Tourism boards are using Twitter to answer questions, help visitors plan their trips and promote events. Twitter chats are becoming quite popular and act as a public forum for many brands.
Average Age: 72% of the active users on Twitter are between 18–49 years old. source
User Growth: Twitter showed a 23% growth in 2014, up 5% from the previous year. source
51% of Travelers say Twitter content has influenced their consideration of a travel brand.
39% of Travelers Use Twitter While on a Trip.
Pinterest’s strength lies in referral traffic, driving more traffic than Twitter, LinkedIn and Reddit combined. If you sell products targeting women, Pinterest could be very beneficial for you. More than twice as many purchases are made when referred from Pinterest than Facebook and Twitter. source
Demographics: Women Dominate Pinterest. “92 Percent Of Pinterest Pins Made By Women” source
Average Age: 18–49 source
User Growth: 28% growth in 2014, up 7% from 2013. source
Out of all of the top social channels, Instagram has the youngest user base. With a focus on photo sharing, Instagram is more about quality than quantity. The volume of photos shared on Instagram doesn’t come close to competing with that of Facebook, but the quality of the photos shared is much higher.
If you’re looking to reach a younger audience with high quality photos look to focus your efforts toward Instagram.
Demographics: 68% Female source
Average Age: 18–24 source
User Growth: 26% growth in 2014, up 9% from 2013. source
The most notable quality of LinkedIn is the average education level of its users. If you’re looking to reach a well-educated group of professionals LinkedIn should be your focus.
Average Age: 30–49 years source
User Growth: 28% growth in 2014, up 6% from 2013. source
YouTube takes the cake when it comes to social video sharing. Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that's almost an hour for every person on Earth.
Many travel brands are taking advantage of the low-barrier to entry YouTube offers. In comparison to other video-based outlets, the costs to create video today are fairly insignificant. People connect more with real, honest to goodness truth then they do an over-produced commercial, especially when it comes to travel. Leverage YouTube’s video platform to share authentic videos with your audience.
Some of channels with the most views in the industry include: Hotel Urbano, Marriott Hotels, Great Wolf Lodge, Costa, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Visit Las Vegas, Tourisme Montréal, YourSingapore and Australia.
Demographics: Use slightly skewed towards men, 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
Average Age: 18–34 years
User Growth: 3x increase in subscriptions since last year
iii. Finding and Creating Content to Share
Sharing Your Own Content
Standing out online is becoming more and more difficult. Investing in quality content in various forms can help drive traffic to your website, build brand awareness, entertain your followers and in the end gain them as a lifelong customer.
It can be a rat race to share popular news or articles from heavily read sources. To stand out you’ll want to be able to share content that’s valuable and uniquely yours.
If you don’t have content to share now, check out Chapter 4 and learn how to find new ideas to aid your brand’s content creation.
Sharing your content on different social networks multiple times can be a good strategy, but don’t make a habit of doing it too often within a small window of time. I mentioned in Chapter 4 that creating blog posts, guides and content that doesn’t get outdated too quickly can be a good strategy for reuse in the future. Once you’ve invested the money in your content you can reshare and repurpose however you like.
Consider a multi-channel content strategy. Not everyone enjoys reading. Turn your blog posts or eBooks into podcasts and videos for even more reach with the same content.
Other People’s Content
If you aren’t already creating your own content you can start by sharing other people’s content from reputable, trustworthy people you would like to be associated with.
If there is one thing to grasp about our culture today it’s that we are highly visual people with limited time to spend on social media.
“Shorter posts get 23% more interaction” source
Nobody has time to read a novel on social media. Part of the reason Twitter was so successful initially was due to it’s most unique feature, character limit. Social media isn’t a place to elaborate. Posts should be short, sweet and to the point. The more a user can take away from a small amount of content the better it will perform and engage your audience.
Photo: InterContinental Hong Kong
High quality photos are crucial when you’re looking to increase engagement on social media.
“Photo posts get 39% more interaction.” source
I wanted to share a story about something that resonated with me recently. I was meeting with a client who will be launching a new restaurant this year and we were talking about photo quality. But the angle they were approaching it from was the customer. Not only should you consider the quality of the photos you are putting out into the world, but also the quality of photos that are taken by your customers and shared. This is especially important if you own a restaurant or venue that serves food or drinks. Consideration should be given to the lightning in your restaurant so when customers are taking photos of your food and drinks they are given the best possible atmosphere. When customer photos show up on Yelp, Instagram you’ll increase the likelihood of a great first impression by others using these services.
It’s impossible to control everything but a little thoughtfulness can go a long way in this digital age.
iv. When to Share & How Often
“74% of people use social media while on vacation”. source
Responding to people while they are on their trip or when they have shared something about your destination can heighten their perception of you. Set up searches and alerts so you can respond when someone mentions your business name.
Timing is important when sharing on social media. For my business I’ve found more success sharing and interacting with others in the afternoon. That is the trend for many types of businesses including travel & hospitality.
Monitoring specific hashtags and keywords across social channels can help you get better at responding when it’s most crucial. I’ve included some tools later on in this chapter to help you set up monitoring for your own business.
v. How to Share
Interacting with Others
Spend time connecting with other people, not just promoting your own content. Nobody will want to follow you if all you do is share your own content. Social media is a lot like attending a party where you don’t know anyone. What would you talk to a complete stranger about? You’re not going to make new friends talking about yourself.
Make an effort to ask others about themselves. Show that you value their relationship beyond adding another follower to your overall count.
Be Positive and Respectful
Following the Golden Rule with everything you do on and offline can yield positive results. On social media it’s easy to forget you’re interacting with real people.
- Respond to others as much as possible. If someone is spending the time to reach out to you, return the favor. Social media is all about building relationships with your audience. If your followers were standing in front of you at a coffee shop and asking you questions would you ignore them?
- Share positive, helpful content. Avoid sharing religious, political or other controversial types of content that could be offputting to your audience.
- Avoid Unfollowers. Don’t post multiple times in a short period source
Using Hashtags Effectively
You can gain more reach with your social sharing if you incorporate relevant hashtags along with each post. Figuring out which hashtags will give you the most reach can take some time. Using popular, relevant hashtags is a good way to grow your audience and gain more followers.
Pay attention to what influencers in your industry are using. Monitor your competition and see what they are sharing and what hashtags they are using that are receiving a higher number of retweets, favorites and responses.
Keep in mind that each social network uses hashtags differently. For example, Instagram’s hashtags are more focused on the content of a photo rather than a specific industry. Twitter more commonly uses hashtags by industry and also to create a dialog for following conversations (Twitter Chats).
- Don’t use more than 2-3 hashtags in each post or it will appear overly promotional and be less effective
- Capitalize each word in the hashtag if using more than one word so it’s easy to read
- Make sure the privacy settings on your social accounts are less restrictive to make sure your posts come up in public hashtag searches
- Top 10 Hashtags for Travel Professionals
Need a break? Watch this hilarious Tonight Show skit with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake
Using hashtags for a unique social media campaign or a Twitter chat requires a different strategy which we’ll touch on later in this chapter.
vi. What to Consider When Running a Social Media Campaign
i. What Do You Want?
Before starting a campaign, figure out what you are hoping to gain by running it. Are you looking to get the word out about your business? Do you want to increase the number of followers on your accounts? Are you building your email list?
Once you’ve figured this out, here are some other things to consider…
ii. Gaining Enough Reach
a. Promote on multiple channels
Promote your campaign in a variety of places as well as on your own website.
Consider partnering up with a complimentary business to take advantage of their audience and ability to promote the campaign.
Here are some ways to utilize partnerships:
Start a Facebook Group
Facebook groups (by invite-only) are an easy way to create a forum-like experience with your current audience.
Create a Hashtag Chat on Twitter
A hashtag chat is an event that occurs at a specific time and day using a unique hashtag allowing other Twitter users to follow a conversation. Running a hashtag chat with another complementary business can help increase your followers and allow you to tap into each other’s audiences. You could do a Q & A session during the chat to help answer follower’s questions. When you’re done you could even turn the content from the chat into additional content to share elsewhere.
Hip Travel Mama offers Twitter Chats regularly with her partners (Photo: Hip Travel Mama)
Check out TweetChat’s web app to follow Twitter hashtag chats more effectively.
Create a Co-hosted Video Series
Work with complimentary businesses to create a video series to increase your reach on YouTube. The more you can tap into already established audiences the faster you’ll be able to grow your own. Just make sure your partner’s audience matches up with your customer profile.
c. Encourage Sharing
If you’re running a contest or giveaway, incentivize sharing with additional chances to win.
d. Hashtag Choice
Use a unique, short hashtag that is easy to remember. Avoid uncommon abbreviations and long numbers.
ii. Offer Value
If you are giving away something, make sure it is relevant to your business. For example, a hotel might giveaway a free night stay or dinner at their in-house restaurant. A photo contest could provide value give amateurs
iii. Limit Information Required to Participate (Low Barrier to Entry)
This is true with anything you request of your customers or followers online today. The easier it is to enter your contest or participate in your campaign the more successful it will be. If you don’t need the information, don’t ask for it. All fields on your entry forms should be required or you shouldn’t include it at all. Optional information makes the form look longer and like more work. This is common of online surveys too. You’ll have a higher response rate if the user can see what’s required of them upfront and how long it might take to complete.
Choosing a Hashtag for a Social Media Campaign
Brainstorm a list of unique hashtags that are relevant to your campaign and business. Don’t use your brand name unless it’s somehow a part of your campaign like in the Chipotle example below. Do a search on the channels you’ll be promoting the campaign on and make sure it isn’t being used by others very often, if at all. If you’ll be streaming the content shared with your hashtag you don’t want inappropriate or unrelated content to get thrown into the mix.
Chipotle’s What’s Your Chipot-Name Campaign
Chipotle’s Chipot-Name campaign entertains and delights by asking customers a series of questions that leads to their Chipot-Name. The value in this type of campaign is mainly brand awareness as it encourages participants to share their Chipot-Name with their friends. This puts Chipotle and imagery of their delicious burritos in front of potential customers.
Caribou’s Five-Story Tall Pinterest Wall
Photo: Erin M. Loewe
A couple of years ago Caribou Coffee ran an impactful photo campaign using Pinterest. They displayed a partially functional Pinterest board inside of The Mall of America. Guests interacted with the board using the hashtag #CaribouInspires to share photos taken with a larger than life coffee mug and other fun props found at the base of the wall. I was able to see this campaign in person and it was quite impactful due to it’s size and placement.
Caribou also created a fun sequence of imagery on their pin board The Coffee Created on Pinterest
Einstein Bros Bagels #MugMustache Campaign
Einstein Bros Bagels #MugMustache campaign is causing quite the stir and generating a lot of engagement for this popular restaurant & catering company. Every Monday they share their favorite #MugMustache photos generated by all their loyal customers. There are many places and ways to enjoy a cup of coffee but Einstein knows it’s all about the experience.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to run a successful campaign. Get together with your team and brainstorm some ways you can generate engagement and delight your current and potential customers.
Software to Help with Social Media Campaigns
Run a Facebook quiz, photo contest, giveaway and more with AgoraPulse’s suite of features.
Setup a video contest, look-book, quiz, fan-fav and a handful of other options with Offerpop’s collection of apps and products.
vii. Social Media Apps & Productivity Tricks
“Instead of updating your profiles on a daily basis, use a scheduling tool such as HootSuite or the Facebook scheduler to schedule your posts for the entire week."
–Shelly Cedarblade, Woo! Social Media
If there is one social media tool to spend money on, it’s Buffer. If you’re managing multiple social media accounts or even just one it will save you quite a bit of time. Buffer works with Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn so far. You can schedule posts, view analytics from content you’ve shared and find new content to share using their suggest content feeds or their app Daily.
Buffer is a great tool if you have limited resources to put towards social media.
Hootsuite is similar to Buffer and also offers a free plan if you’re interested in exploring either option. They both offer scheduling tools and mobile platforms for social media sharing wherever you may be. Hootsuite might take the cake however, when it comes to monitoring your various accounts. Their platform can help you find influencers to follow and engage with as well as monitor hashtags, specific searches and more.
Using both platforms together could aid in your social media success.
One of the underutilized tools on Twitter is their list feature. If you are following a large number of people it can be difficult to keep them straight when there is no organization system. Twitter lists are a great way to organize your followers.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider spending a little time setting up Twitter lists…
- Build Partnerships - Your followers can subscribe to your lists. Consider creating lists based on what your followers might be interested in. For example, you could create a list of nearby restaurants, attractions and things to do. This is especially beneficial for your advertisers if you have partnerships with complementary businesses. You could ask them to include you in their lists as well.
Pro Tip: Add yourself to some of your own lists too so you can be sure to be followed as well.
- List Promotion - Consider creating a list of all your conference attendees so they can find each other afterwards or connect with other like-minded folks. You could even use lists to build trip itineraries. The possibilities are endless!
- Easier Content Sharing - Looking for a quote or something compelling to share? If you organize the accounts you follow into lists it makes it a lot easier to find something to retweet or reply to based on topic vs. sorting through hundreds or thousands of tweets in your home feed.
- Monitoring & Smaller Home Feed - If you want to monitor the accounts of prospects without following them you can add them to a list instead. This helps to keep your key accounts on your home screen and everyone else you’d like to keep tabs on within your lists.
The best tool to manage your lists at a glance is TweetDeck. Similar to some of HootSuite’s listening tools, you can use TweetDeck to set up monitoring for hashtags, specific searches and any of your lists.
viii. Advertising on Social Media
Unfortunately many social networks are moving to giving more prominence to paid content. Years of analyzing user posts and tweets has given social media leaders like Facebook and Twitter a huge leg up over other online advertising mediums. With all the data available on these platforms through user profiles you have the ability to target a narrow audience if you choose.
Benefits to Social Media Advertising
- Reach new audiences
- Target your ideal customer with less legwork
- Increase your number of followers
Downsides to Social Media Advertising
- Not always cost-effective
- Can increase the number of spam accounts following you
Social Media Advertising Resources
- The Social Media Advertising Beginner’s Guide for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
- Guide to Facebook Advertising
- Guide to LinkedIn Advertising
- Guide to Twitter Advertising
- Guide to Promoted Pins on Pinterest
ix. Social Media On Your Website
Setting up Your Website for Social Media Sharing
The most important thing to remember is you don’t want to send your visitors away from achieving your goal on your website. Integrate social media throughout your website in a purposeful way using these tips and resources.
Content Optimized For Sharing
Talk to your developer or designer about your website’s social media meta data. Make sure when visitors share your content that you're able to provide the correct title, description, photo and more by setting up your meta data correctly. You should ask about Twitter Cards and Rich Pins on Pinterest to increase social media engagement.
Social Media in All The Right Places
Header or Footer: Encourage visitors to follow you on your active social networks by including icons in the global areas of your website.
Photos: Setup your website so your photos are easily pinnable on Pinterest. Make sure you are optimizing your pin descriptions to get the most reach on Pinterest.
Blog Posts: Add sharing icons to the top of your articles. People like to share articles they haven’t read. Add then at the bottom as well to catch both types of readers.
Tweet This: Throughout your content suggest important quotes or stats to be shared with one-click on Twitter. Try ClickToTweet.
Menus: Consider incorporating social sharing on your online menu items to further the reach of your beautiful photography.
Consider performance with social sharing plugins. Some of them can take a considerable hit on your page speed. Do your research and run some tests to make sure your selected tools aren’t hurting your website performance.
Explore More Articles About Social Media
- Hotel Facebook Page Ideas
- Spend Your Time Wisely: Twitter Restaurant Marketing
- Social Media Updates That Get Clicks Without A Promotion
- No Time for Pinterest? How To Get Your Audience To Add To Your Boards
- Using Pinterest Maps: Tips & Ideas
You should now have the tools and knowledge to create effective strategies to grow your travel or hospitality business online.
If you found this guide to be valuable please share it with your partners and colleagues.