|Vice President—Content/Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero|
I’m just back from the Ataway Exchange, a digital marketing conference where presenters in the online marketing space shared their expertise with an audience of marketers from travel supplier companies and destinations. Ataway Exchange is owned by Questex Media, which owns Travel Agent magazine. Here are the top digital marketing insights I took away for you. Many easily apply to the travel advisor space.
Blue Sky Branding Tips: You are a brand, whether you are a sole proprietor, a corporation, or a blogger. Now, look at your brand as a persona. Would this person be your friend? Give your customers a reason to love your brand. People just need a reason to believe. They want to be entertained and informed by your marketing efforts. Effective brands convey that their products can enhance a consumer’s life.
Ditch the Pitch, Don’t Pimp Yourself Out: The consumer is no longer waiting for a one-way message from a brand to be pushed to them. They expect a dialogue with the brand. Don’t belittle yourself out by overselling and hawking deals. Pull your audience in with engaging messages so that they want to be a part of your world.
Now, to Digital Marketing: Use all facets of the social networks to get your messaging out. And be sure you are handling each uniquely. We’re talking Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram. To get the latest on each, click on the “social media” tab at the top of www.TravelAgentCentral.com’s homepage.
Social Networking Tips: For Facebook, use photos that have large swaths of blue in them, i.e. sky or sea. These get the most engagement, said Katie Boes, head of integrated marketing and strategy for Travel + Leisure, who spoke at Ataway. Boes added that items posted between 11 a.m. and noon on Facebook were most successful.
Engage Your Audience: Use short questions, rather than long ones, said Boes, who also advises agents to be on FourSquare, even if it’s not your favorite venue. That’s because it’s the most used app by people when they are actually traveling.
Instagram Is Great for Going Viral: Your audience on Instagram can easily share your fabulous travel photos with their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Go With Video: Whether on your website, blog or networks, get busy with the movies. Sixty percent of all traffic online comes from video, according to Forrester research.
Social Media Matters: Even if you have a great website or blog, you are cheating yourself if you’re not on the social networks. That’s because Google ranks content that is spread via these networks higher than other content. With an active social presence, your content will appear closer to the top of the page in search results.
Go Back to Twitter: Decided that Facebook works best for you? You still need to start Tweeting again as Twitter users “are an audience with audiences,” said Jeff Rohrs, VP at ExactTarget. “They make sure what happens on Twitter doesn’t stay on Twitter.”
Get a Good Klout Score: This is the main measurement to determine how influential you are in the social media world. Go to www.Klout.com to learn more.
Get Great Content That Will Go Viral: “The way to achieve ROI with social media marketing is to have your customers spread content on your behalf. People want to share content that is remarkable,” said Ben Arnon, VP, global brand partnerships at Wildfire, which is owned by Google. “Develop content that consumers will piggyback off of.” In the travel advisor space, this could mean content that is funny or aspirational. Create or obtain content that provides travel tips to your audience or dream itineraries or something they will want to share with their friends. As a travel advisor, you have access to amazing experiences you can share with the world. Focus on how to turn those experiences into amazing content and make it easy for your audience to share.