The Key to Social Media Success

Social media successFew businesses have faced as much competitive pressure over the last decade as travel agents. Those who’ve survived have done so by connecting effectively with their customers, addressing real needs, and providing excellent service.

But the growth of social media has introduced a new variable to travel agents’ relationships with their clients, one that many struggle to navigate. The latest issue of Travel Agent Magazine features a cover story, “Social Media Tips From the Experts,” all about how travel agents — and anyone in the travel space, really — can use social media to connect with their clients in ever more effective ways. The piece features tips from a number of leading social media marketing experts, including our own Tim Peter.

Among the tips Tim shared with the magazine was this advice:

“Think about what’s of value to your customers,” Peter says. “Travel agents should be better at this than a lot of other people because you talk to customers every day. What are the things your clients ask you all the time? That’s great info to share.”

Content marketing — itself core to any social media marketing efforts — challenges marketers to continually generate new content. But any business person, travel agent or otherwise, who talks to customers regularly knows what really matters to those customers. Or should.

Creating deep relationships with customers depends on first listening to what your customers say and working to understand what customers actually need. Of course, the understanding is as important as the listening. Henry Ford famously said, “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Ford translated “faster horses” into serving a real need: providing reliable, inexpensive, and, yes, faster transportation.

Your social media efforts should aim for the same goal. First, listen to what your customers and clients say, on social channels as well as offline. Then understand what those customers need. Then, finally, engage with customers to address those needs.

By the way, the article as a whole is filled with a ton of tips you can use, regardless of your industry or occupation. Check it out if you get the chance.

And, if you’re interested in more, sign up for our free newsletter to get more information on how to build your social, local, mobile marketing strategy. You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of social, including:

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Facebook Hires Head of Travel – Lee McCabe | buuteeq

This isn’t news any longer, but it’s still worth noting that Facebook recently hired former Expedia exec Lee McCabe as its head of travel. As noted during the recent HSMAI Chief Digital Officer Roundtable, Facebook — and other players such as Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon — don’t have a significant presence in the online travel space… yet. But given the size of the online travel space (~ $120B in 2012, roughly 35% of all e-commerce), it’s no wonder Facebook has started to take notice.

Skift offers this insight from McCabe:

“A big part of the role is helping our travel partners reach existing objectives by connecting, engaging, and influencing consumers on the Facebook platform,” McCabe says. “We’re already doing that by identifying the right solutions for travel, such as Custom Audiences, Facebook Exchange and Offers. So far, our partners that have the most clear objectives and focus on core solutions are seeing the most success.”

How big is Facebook in your marketing plans this year? Does their attention to the space cause you to look at them more closely? I’d love to hear what you think.

Search is still king for travel marketing | Eyefortravel

EyeForTravel says search still rules travel marketing. According to the article,

“A massive 60% of Travel industry marketing gurus still rank search as the number 1 way to drive traffic.

Globally, organic search is the most influential marketing channel for online travel marketing followed by paid search, then good old email marketing, social media, meta search and lastly mobile marketing.”

So, while social is on the rise (and is becoming increasingly important for organic search rankings), search still is on top of the world.