Back to Social Media Basics
By Kate Rice
March 05, 2012 11:45 PM
If you’ve been looking for a good reason to commit to social media marketing, here’s a $30,000 one. Stacy Small, owner of Elite Travel International and an established social media guru, just sold a $30,000 vacation rental on St. Bart’s thanks to a lead she got from Twitter. Another recent Twitter lead led to her booking a Hawaii vacation to a luxury resort.
“Using social media has quadrupled my business over the past two years,” she says. And it can do the same for you. Small was one of several panelists participating in two different social media sessions at last week’s New York Times Travel Show trade day. They shared ideas about things you can start doing today to promote your business using social media. Here are some of the best:
Fine-tune your Facebook page: Assign your Facebook friends to various lists you create -- these could be friends, family, clients, the public and others -- and then make sure you are disciplined about what you post so the right people are seeing the right thing. Establish a business page and invite all of your friends from your personal page to your business page. And that business page should tell people that you sell travel.
“Shout it out,” says Adrienne Sasson, regional director for Redefine Vacations, a luxury travel supplier for India. “Tell them, ‘this is what I do, I am a travel specialist.” Post regularly. Use your mobile phone to post to Facebook and Twitter. Look at services such as Hootsuite so you can write and schedule posts in advance. Show off your knowledge and love of travel, by sharing a travel hint or linking to a thought-provoking article.
Start a blog: Facebook is great, but you want to content on your own website that is completely separate from Facebook, says Sarah Kennedy Ellis, director of Sabre Travel Studios. Commit to blogging once a week. You’ve probably got seven or eight ideas so keep a running list of other ideas that pop into your head. Hint: Evernote, a virtual Post-It note on steroids, is perfect for this sort of thing.
Link your blog to Facebook and Twitter: Use meta-words. If you’re writing about Europe, make sure that Europe and words about the European destinations you specialize in are scattered throughout the blog to attract search engines. Sasson, a former retail agent, would get queries from around the world when she did that.
Take lots of photos of your travel experiences: John Peters, senior vice president and general manager of digital strategy and business development at Rand McNally, takes photos of food. Sasson takes shots of airport signs and posts photos throughout her trips. “Let people know you’ve been there,” she says. If you’re going on a trip, do several posts before you leave about what you’re planning to do and why you’re excited. Small takes photos of the hotels she stays in. Her photo of her room in a new boutique hotel in New York generated 19 comments in seconds.
Think about what you’re writing: Sree Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs and professor at Columbia Journalism School, says you should consider the image you want to project. You want to have some fun, of course, because vacations are fun. But you also want to always look professional. You can be revealing of yourself --showing that you’re an environmental activist or deeply involved in your children’s schools shows that you are a well-rounded citizen, not simply someone trying to sell something.
Write about what you know: For example, you could write about your last fam trip. It could be a vacation you’re currently planning for a client that’s taught you a few things or reminded of some fundamentals. Small recommends top 10 lists since these always attract attention. Your lists could focus on your favorite hotels in a specific city, your favorite restaurants you’ve visited in the past year, your top 10 roller coaster rides or anything else that reflects your interests.
Committing to social media marketing isn’t just a matter of self-discipline, says Small. It’s simply a matter of making money. If she’s marketing through social media, she’s making money. It’s a no-brainer.
To learn more, visit Peters’ latest blog post on social media by clicking on John Peters Blog. Kennedy-Ellis recommends a cheat-sheet for social media novices at Flowtown.com. And Small and Kennedy-Ellis both recommend Mashable.com, the go-to website for getting up to speed on social media.
Kate Rice is executive editor covering travel technology, travel agents and airlines for TravelPulse.com.