How Travel Agents Can Make Their Mark on Social Media
Back in the days of yore when I was wee lass, there were no personal computers let alone internet and social media (SM). Yes friends, I lived long without the adrenaline rush of retweets, FB likes and Tumblr followers. Oh, how times have changed.
For me, navigating social media is like learning a new language. But the truth is that learning the language of social media is a must for travel agencies. But don’t fret, dear reader. I’m putting together a few basic tips to help you along with your social media marketing . . . and you might even have some fun along the way.
The Big Picture:
According to Dave Chaffey on Smart Insights, 67.5% of internet-users are active on social media this is 31.2% of all living humans! (Trust me, it's a lot.)
Chances are, as you’re reading this, someone is sitting at their office desk. The air conditioner is on too high so even though it’s 98 degrees outside, they’re forced to wear a cardigan inside. They’re eating a sandwich with limp lettuce and sweating cheese, slipping into a daydream so they can have a break from the drudgery of their day. They are daydreaming about scuba diving for the first time in the Caribbean (they’ve always wanted to do that). Or they’re visualizing digging their toes in the warm white sands of Kona beaches, or imagining trekking in the Andes as a milestone to mark their retirement. For thirty minutes, they are thinking about escape.
Chances are they’re scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. They’re looking for images of their daydream to materialize in front of them . . . looking for someone to tell them they can afford to make that dream into a reality—if not now, someday. They may not know it, but they’re looking for you.
What’s the moral of the story? If your travel agency is not up and running on social media, it should be.
Where Are Your Clients on Social Media?
You don’t need a statistic to tell you that everyone and their great-grandmother is on social media. The question is, which platforms do your clients/potential clients use the most?
It can be overwhelming. There’s a lot available. But you don’t have to do it all. Even just picking one or two social media platforms to begin with is a great start. If you’re not sure what platform to choose, or want to make sure you’re currently using the social media to target your client base, check out this quiz below: 1
All finished? There’s probably a good chance Facebook popped up in your queue as front runner, but if you want to expand your social media (SM) presence, or decide which SM accounts to concentrate on, you might consider looking at option #2 or #3 on your list.
There’s so much stuff out there about how SM marketing, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. But let me just break down a few tips to make your biz pages sparkle.
5 Steps to Boost Your Social Media Presence
- Make it Pretty. Really, Really Pretty. We’re trying to reinforce the daydream state. Try to use photos that are visually stunning/ attractive. Large headlines also help. You can always do screen images to make your own custom headlines for a photo, if you’d like.
- Quality Over Quantity This is personal taste, but in general I’d suggest posting only when you truly have something of value to offer your clients. Dumping followers with ads and self-promotion can be a downer, but worse yet, it makes you forgettable. Your experiences, expertise, and insights will sell themselves.
- Just Because You Build It, Doesn’t Mean They’ll Come. Do simple things to increase traffic to your SM accounts. Make sure your profile is comprehensive. Add share buttons to your webpage and use hashtags with reckless abandon. Create original and meaningful content. And don’t forget that all roads lead back to your website.
- Stay on Brand. It’s good to have a blend of personal and business—after all, you’re a real live human. But keep your rants and raves up on your personal accounts (unless, of course, you’re raving about a client’s vacation).
- Engage, Engage, Engage. You don’t need to participate in every SM platform, but it’s a good idea to stay active on at least one or two. Social Media is a time suck, yes, but you can use that “time suck” to your advantage. Pick a couple SM accounts and do them well.
Some of Our Favorite Travel Industry Social Media Accounts:
The first thing to do, if you haven’t already, is to make sure you reserve your brand’s social media page/handle on all major platforms—even ones you don’t plan on engaging with now. Who knows which way the wind will carry you in the future.
Below are a few examples of travel industry social media pages that caught my eye. I also included a little info about optimal posting time for the different SM platforms. I even made up a new acronym! Optimal Posting Time will forever be known as OPT.
HOWEVER, I have to issue a giant disclaimer. The OPTs listed below do not take into account the demographic/lifestyle of your client base—it just cites the day and times when there’s the highest volume of traffic. So if you’re targeting bakers who work a 4am-12pm day, their peak browsing times will differ significantly from a 9-5er. Also, according to Anna Bennett, a Pinterest SM expert folks are more likely to fantasize about travel on Saturdays.2 In the end, you know best! Trust your gut!
Facebook (for Consumer Engagement)
OPT: Wed. 11:00am - 3:00pm; Thurs. 2:00pm & 4:00pm; Fri. 11:00am - 4:00pm (But you can also check your Facebook analytics to see when you get the most engagement among your peeps in particular on you business page!)3
Who Does it Well: Boutique Japan
Well, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t need me to inform you about Facebook. Just be sure that when/ if (preferably when) you develop a FB page that you utilize its review function so everyone can see your clients brag about you.
You’ll also want to make sure you “verify” your travel agency, to help boost your company in random FB searches. Here’s the link (hint: We did it for Host Agency Reviews and, it’s quick and easy).
Twitter (for Consumer Engagement)
OPT: Sat. @ 1:004
Who Does it Well: Stacy Small, @EliteTravelGal
If you prefer to engage on SM at warp speed, Twitter is a good bet for you. Though it might be tempting to make kneejerk tweets, it good to keep them streamlined, visual, and relevant to your followers. That goes for retweets too. Save your live tweets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for your personal account, unless it’s miraculously part of your niche 5
Don’t forget to take advantage of Twitter chats! Take a look at this Twitter chat calendar to find one that fits your niche. And for the love of all things holy don’t forget to link your account to your website!
Instagram (for Consumer Engagement)
OPT: Sat. @ 11:00am & 1:00pm (You can also look at your personal engagement on your business account to see best times for you).6
Who Does it Well: Kathy Takushi, @CaptivatingJourneys
Traveling is a visual experience, so it makes sense that Instagram would be a popular venue for agents and for those who suffer from wanderlust. If you go with an Instagram account, you can let the marvel of certain geographical locations advertise for you. It also gives clients (and prospective clients) a taste of your style/personality while staying on brand with your business.
Repeat after me: Follow your clients on Instagram. When they post images of the trip you helped make happen, like them until you’re blue in the face (that is, if you genuinely do).
LinkedIn (Global Engagement)
OPT: Wed. 3:00pm - 5:00pm7
Who Does it Well: Valerie Wilson Travel
LinkedIn is a must if your travel agency does corporate bookings, but leisure agents shouldn’t write it off either. It’s a great way to connect with that one person you got your driver’s permit with never to be heard from again who developed a liking for birds and wants to book a trip to Manu National Park in Peru for their fortieth birthday.
Pinterest (General Engagement)
OPT: Breaking from the pack, the best time for an agent to post on Pinterest is on weekends, from 8:00pm - 11:00pm![Source: https://www.shipstation.com/blog/inking-new-ideas/best-times-post-social-media-platforms/]
Who Does it Well: JetSetter, @JetSetterDotCom
Jetsetter has a comprehensive Pinterest boards that feature destinations, niche travel interests, geographies and tidbits of travel news. Though they operate on an epic scale, it gives a good idea of ways to engage with viewers. The downer about Pinterest is that someone has to have a registered Pinterest account to even view your boards (unlike other platforms where business pages are “open to the public”).
- Data for quiz taken from: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/new-social-media-demographics/#all ↩
- https://www.business2community.com/pinterest/best-time-days-pin-pinterest-01152667#YB3eDs98hx870qmW.97 ↩
- Source: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/#facebook ↩
- Source: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/#twitter ↩
- If BTVS is part of your niche, we SERIOUSLY need to talk. ↩
- https://sproutsocial.com/insights/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/#instagram ↩
- Source: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/#linkedin ↩