Who would have thought some 20 years back that by now humans would be booking the bulk of their travel online?
The internet has truly changed our lives, and the evolution of travel websites has made it aeons easier to find the experiences we want. The trouble is, with the multitude of travel sites available to choose from, how exactly do you get people to visit your website?
The good news is that social media can help you to do that, in various ways. Here’s how to promote your travel website with social media marketing so you reach the right audience at the right time!
Start with a Strategy
Developing a strategy with goals and a timeline is the best way to approach a new marketing activity. Start by deciding upfront what your social media marketing goals are. Some things to consider are:
- Who will manage your social media accounts? It’s a labour-intensive process that requires someone who has their finger on the pulse of current travel news and affairs.
- The number of network profiles you have the time and expertise to manage.
- Whether your strategy will include paid advertising as well as regular posting, and what sort of budget you can allocate to this.
- How will you integrate your social media accounts and your website?
Many companies in the travel industry start out strongly with their social media marketing strategies. They flounder when they realise how much time and focus it takes to manage, however. You can avoid this with careful planning that takes account of all these questions.
Choose Your Platforms
There is a huge number of social media channels to choose from, and it’s a common mistake for a travel business to try and have a presence on too many of them. All the top social platforms have different audiences and will drive traffic differently to your website.
Identify who your target audience consists of and where they hang out online. If your travel market is primarily baby boomers, for example, you’ll want to be on Facebook. That’s because this group favours it over any other, according to forecasts from eMarketer. If it’s millennials you’re after, add YouTube and Instagram to the stable, because after Facebook those are their preferred sites.
If women are your primary market, don’t leave Pinterest out of your strategy. Travel agencies and tour operators who want to reach Gen Z would do well to focus on Snapchat along with Instagram. For business travellers, you’ll want to consider Twitter and possibly LinkedIn.
Figure out your goal for each social network. Evaluate your current audiences and how they use the platforms. Set up profiles that speak directly to your prospective customers on that platform.
Set Up the Profiles
Setting up your social accounts doesn’t have to be complex. Your best approach is to create an independent Gmail account that can act as the admin for all your social profiles. That way, if you transfer the social media duties from one staffer to another there’s no difficulty with admin rights and access. You simply give the login credentials to the new person to handle.
If your strategy includes running paid ads on Facebook, set up a Business Manager account. From there, you can create multiple Facebook business pages, set up your ads and manage your analytics. Use the same email address to set up accounts on all the other sites. Keep your profile handles and cover imagery as consistent as possible across the sites, which helps with your branding.
Use Technology to Help
You’ll find there’s a lot of time involved in posting and engaging on social media, but fortunately, technology helps. Choose a software program that can help you with your planning and scheduling, responding and measuring results. Some of the better-known programs that do this are HootSuite, Buffer, and Sprout Social. There are also lots of smaller programs that can do unique tasks.
Find Sharable Content
Ah, what to post – that is the biggest question! Research shows that the average traveller spends 13% of their time online conducting travel-related activities, mostly to get inspiration.
You aren’t going to inspire potential clients by posting generically about your services, so you’ll need to find high-quality content daily to publish. Your strategy could include:
- Sharing blog posts from your website. Blogging offers multiple benefits for travel marketing, but only if people get to see your posts.
- Linking to user-generated content, such as photos on Instagram and Pinterest. This could come from customers who have booked a tour or made use of your services in other ways.
- Curating content from other sites, such as travel news, information on places and trips
- Running contests and promotions, such as deals or flash sales on specific destinations
- Highlighting reviews on sites like Tripadvisor and Expedia.
A good way to organize your posts is to set a theme for each week or month. This could be a destination, a type of customer experience, or a special deal that determines the subject of your posts for the period.
Build a Following
To drive traffic to your travel business website from social media, you need to have people following you. On many social networking sites, the more followers you have the more your posts get shown to other users. This makes kickstarting your following with a few paid ads a worthwhile investment. Even if the people you draw aren’t your ideal customers, when you reach a certain number you’ll start to see results. For example, a Facebook page needs to have a minimum of 30 followers for the admin to see the list of users, and a minimum of 100 to view page insights.
Additional ways to build your following are:
- Invite your friends, and ask them to share your page with others. Suggest to your staff members that they do the same. Make it a point to follow others who will follow you in return.
- Identify and follow influencers in your niche, and engage with them by liking, commenting and sharing their posts.
- Add social media icons to your website, email signature and any other communications so interested users can access the profiles easily.
- Post frequently, especially while you’re running a paid advertising campaign, so new recruits have something to view.
You can also consider offering customer service options on your profiles. This option has become a very popular form of communication for a small percentage of consumers, according to Gartner.
Getting engagement on your profiles is vital to ensure the sites’ algorithms see you as providing value because that’s how your visibility will increase. Respond to and engage anyone who comments on your posts. Invite commentary and participation wherever you can, and share as many travel-related viral posts as you can so you’re seen by the algorithm as being “in on the action.” Include your researched keywords in every post, comment or response, and use hashtags to make sure your posts appear in lists as well as search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Track the Results
It’s important to track the results of promoting your travel website on social media. If you use Google Analytics for your website, you’ll be able to see how many visitors come via your various social profiles. For example, if a travel agent website accepts online bookings, you should be able to identify how many visitors become customers.
On social media, you can also track what existing clients are saying about your company and services using social listening tools and techniques. We hope these tips provide you with enough useful information on how to promote your travel website with social media marketing to help you get started.
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