Travel sites sm review 040811


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Social Media Strategies

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Travel sites sm review 040811

  1. 1. Social Networking OverviewPrepared for: TravelHouse re: / / Villaretreats.comPrepared by: Nick Thomas4 August 2011Jan Klin & Associates Charnwood, Hollow Lane, Kingsley, Cheshire WA6 8EF T 01928 788 100 E
  2. 2. About Antarctica Bound / Arctic Bound /, and are part of the specialist travel portfolio at and are experienced in the Polar cruise travel market and offer thefinest selection of luxury villas to rent.Current Social Networking ActivityAll 3 websites promote active Facebook and Twitter presences, but are underdeveloped in a vibrant social media niche.This Brief Overview Will...Summarise the opportunity and reasons to invest and then broadly outline an approach to develop active and useful socialnetwork presences: setting the objectives to desired outcomes, choosing the right channels, designing profiles and contentstrategies, building and promoting the presences, generating engagement and measuring success. There is also a brief casestudy to demonstrate the potential of a well planned, executed and managed social strategyJan Klin & Associates Charnwood, Hollow Lane, Kingsley, Cheshire WA6 8EF T 01928 788 100 E
  3. 3. 1. The Opportunity - Why Invest in Social Networking?Social networking has revealed a new way of navigating the internet. Businesses can connect to customers virally, and userscan find high quality approved content and recommendations. Ultimately businesses must go where their customers are andthis is increasing where the social networks are but businesses must be clear about their business objectives.Crucially, social media is already an interwoven part of the online travel industry. According to a recent US study: • 7% of traffic to travel sites already come from social media, but more interestingly, • for 90% of sites, social media was a top destination site after visiting their site (11% of downstream traffic overall) • where sites allow user reviews, there was a 24% increase in trafficThis indicates how people use social media when researching, choosing and booking travel online.Facebook & TwitterFacebook  is  by far the  most  popular  social  network  in  the  UK,  accounting  for  53%  of  all  visits  to   social  networks, 29mactive users averaging 68 visits per month and 30 minutes pervisit.  Twitter is far smaller but growing much more quickly. It allows thequick proliferation of content to a network of followers and whileFacebook continues to revolve around real world relationships,Twitter ties people together in a much more casual way.YouTube20% of all social visits. 3rd largest website in the UK (behindGoogle UK and Facebook) with a nearly 1/3 of the visits GoogleUK receives. Obvious application to showcase destinations.Tumblr & FlickrPhoto-sharing applications: natural application for travel industry. Helps with SEO and visibility.BlogsUser-experience and reviews are potentially powerful sources of traffic and new business.Costs & RiskSuccessful application costs in terms of time, resource and training / expertise / education. There are risks from thetransparency and easy proliferation of content which need to be managed through clear usage and engagement policies.Some Reasons to InvestSocial media, in all its forms, provide a way for users to deliver ‘word of mouth’ marketing, acknowledged as one of the big-gest influencers when it comes to consumers making travel decisions. Many potential objectives are achievable using socialnetworking tools, but crucially, these should be aligned with the company’s wider business strategy. TravelHouse are possi-bly most suited to using social networks to i) reach a new audience; ii) capture potential customer data; iii) create brand loy-alty; iv) increase brand awareness; v) increase brand advocacy; vi) increase brand engagement; vii) communicate with cus-tomers.Jan Klin & Associates Charnwood, Hollow Lane, Kingsley, Cheshire WA6 8EF T 01928 788 100 E
  4. 4. 2. Committing to a Social Media Strategy• A fully committed and solid strategy is important: light experimentation is highly likely to be ineffective. The mistake many businesses make is ‘wanting to be on Facebook’ before deciding on the business goals.• Start with a social media strategy with an overall plan not a technology or tool. In other words, choose the correct social media channel for the desired outcome.• A roadmap is built by tailoring your objectives to an audience and using specific tactics as part of a wider strategy designed to achieve those objectives. The channel / tools / technology can then be appropriately selected and measured.• Critical mass is important. A tentative and short term approach may deliver a few thousand ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’ or ‘Subscribers’ but these are unlikely to produce meaningful business results. Scale is necessary to generate consistent and visible engagement and interaction which is then measurable. Growing the required critical mass is an investment.3. Executing a Social Media PlanChoosing and defining the appropriate strategy is only the first stage. It is then important to design, build and use thechannels in the appropriate way before you can expect meaningful results.This should involve the following stages: A. Design & Content Social networks each have their own specific means of configuration allowing the tool to be used in the most effective way. Similarly, the way community users digest and absorb content differs from channel to channel, so the right content strategy is also important. The right channels need to be chosen for the business objectives and then best practices need to be adopted and set up appropriately with this and the business objectives in mind. B. Building and Promoting Building a community that matters relies on an understanding of how to use the various tools that each social network makes available. Interaction / participation is key to raise visibility and begin attracting the right network. C. Generating Engagement A network is only meaningful if it interacts / engages with your content. Each social network offers different methods to communicate with your networks and applying appropriate techniques will help generate the types of engagement that matter D. Measuring Success It is impossible to predict accurately how any particular social network will react to these initiatives. A critical part to developing a solid strategy is a feedback loop that applies learned lessons from using the network. It is key to determine measurement of the desired outcomes, monitor progress and continually improve the configuration and content strategiesJan Klin & Associates Charnwood, Hollow Lane, Kingsley, Cheshire WA6 8EF T 01928 788 100 E
  5. 5. 4. How it’s doneSTA Travel UK are a great example of how to exploit social media in the travel industry. They have over 80,000 Facebook‘Likes’ and over 4,000 Followers on Twitter. Most ingeniously though, they have developed a travel blogging application ontheir website which allows anyone to blog their travel exploits as they go, allowing photo, video and message-sharing withinJan Klin & Associates Charnwood, Hollow Lane, Kingsley, Cheshire WA6 8EF T 01928 788 100 E
  6. 6. the suite. This is not only an invaluable tool for the traveller to keep in touch with loved-ones, it’s an awesome advocacydevice as it creates endless fresh, targeted content which ultimately promotes the company’s products. This socialapplication has been so successful that 15-20% of all traffic to the STA Travel website now arrives via a customer’s travelblog: how STA do not lose sight of the need to make the application commercial. Neatly injected into the user’s blog is atargeted product promotion which does not feel aggressive or in any way detract from the usefulness of the wider initiative.This tool is also integrated with Facebook meaning that all users’ blog posts are automatically posted to their Facebook feedfor all their Facebook Friends to see and share. On average Facebook users are connected to 140 friends, so the 80,000strong network potentially reaches over 11m like-minded users.Jan Klin & Associates Charnwood, Hollow Lane, Kingsley, Cheshire WA6 8EF T 01928 788 100 E
  7. 7. The Facebook presence itself is well designed and executed. The default landing page has a strong promotion and call toaction to incentivise a connection with the brand via the social utility:Jan Klin & Associates Charnwood, Hollow Lane, Kingsley, Cheshire WA6 8EF T 01928 788 100 E
  8. 8. There is an active discussion board and the photos application is very well used. Both act to create and proliferate free marketing material to targeted customers and their connections.Jan Klin & Associates Charnwood, Hollow Lane, Kingsley, Cheshire WA6 8EF T 01928 788 100 E
  9. 9. Again, STA do not lose sight of the need for its social media efforts to be commercial in nature. There are specific landing pages for finding a ‘quote’ and promoting the best deals:Jan Klin & Associates Charnwood, Hollow Lane, Kingsley, Cheshire WA6 8EF T 01928 788 100 E
  10. 10. STA’s Twitter presence is equally well executed. Background and profile pic are well chosen and they have reached a decentsized follower base of 4,000 and these followers are engaged enough to produce a meaningful and active conversation thatJan Klin & Associates Charnwood, Hollow Lane, Kingsley, Cheshire WA6 8EF T 01928 788 100 E
  11. 11. is regularly updated. The stream of tweets is varied and commercial promotions with links are neatly interspersed with brandtestimonials and positive feedback and real customer correspondence:Jan Klin & Associates Charnwood, Hollow Lane, Kingsley, Cheshire WA6 8EF T 01928 788 100 E