PHOTO: Social media can be a brand builder for agents. (Courtesy Flickr/Brantley Davidson)
Social media. Everyone’s doing it, so you should too, right?
Not so fast.
Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. It’s more a matter of doing it correctly.
Using social media to build your brand can be amazingly effective if done right, as Mark Travel and Funjet Vacations have done. But do a sloppy job and you could end up doing more damage than had you done nothing at all. Wading into the social media pool takes a bit of forethought and planning if you want to make a splash for all the right reasons.
Most of us have at least dipped our toes into the water by now, but Instagramming a picture of your latest meal is a far different story than using various social media platforms to grow your travel agent business. That requires strategy and a serious commitment to maintaining the effort. To be successful in today’s fast-paced social media world, you need to do more than toss out a few pictures and wait for business to roll in. You need to engage and create a rapport with your followers. Social media is a conversation, and like any successful conversation you need more than a clever opening gambit to keep it going. Where to start? Here are some tips for posting your way to success.
1. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, oh my! And don’t forget Instagram and Pinterest, while you’re at it. Be selective, there’s no need to use them all. Determine which outlet will best suit your needs and reach your target audience. Facebook is great for getting referrals, while Twitter is the perfect place to engage in conversations. And Instagram is perfect for visually getting across your message and your brand.
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2. Be subtle. Social media shouldn’t be viewed as yet another advertising platform with you posting “Ask me about my specials to Cancun!” Do that and followers won’t be followers for long. Instead, use these platforms to subtly showcase your knowledge and draw people into the conversation with comments and pictures that engage. Post a few from your own vacation and invite followers to guess where you are. Share and ask for people’s best travel tips. And remember, it’s a two-way street. You need to be proactive in commenting on other people’s posts, responding to tweets and “liking” people’s images.
3. Timing is everything. Each social media platform is most active at certain times of the day, on certain days of the week. Twitter, for example, sees a spike in traffic around noon and again as the workday ends so plan your tweets accordingly. Pay specific attention to when your followers are most active, as well, and schedule messages to go out during peak times of engagement. And speaking of timing, set aside time each day to respond to followers and do some outreach of your own.
4. See what’s trending. Scan various social media outlets to see what’s trending and how you can capitalize on that. If people are talking about Bali, now might be a good time to post some pictures from your last trip or start a Bali trivia quiz. Make sure to tag relevant parties, too. You can use sites like Hashtagify.me to see which hashtags are trending and which are related to your topic.
5. Make your posts stand out. Social media moves at the speed of light. Tweets, especially, are there one minute, gone the next. Make your message stand out with beautiful images and engaging content.