Whether we like it or not – whether we’re ready or not – social media is now part of the marketing mix for travel brands and destination marketing organizations. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, Exploroo, TravBuddy, even blogs and YouTube are all changing the way consumers communicate and interact with the places they go.
While these sites have quickly become staples for consumers, marketers are still learning the best practices and the practical limitations of this new media, and how to integrate these new channels into their communication plans. There is no “right way” to manage social networking, but understanding the challenges and opportunities of these new media is the first step in creating a realistic and achievable plan for your organization’s entry to social networks.
Social media doesn’t exist in a vacuum – it’s just another channel.
Developing a Social Networking Strategy
Your brand’s presence on social networks should reflect the same ideals and attitudes that you’ve cultivated in traditional media. Brand consistency, attention to details and diligent preparation are the best ways to keep social media from spiraling out of control. Wanderlust can help you develop a solid strategy that will pinpoint where the brand should be, identifying the sites and blogs most relevant to your audience. Our strategy will outline an approach for listening to the blogosphere and responding to customer comments and feedback. And it will assign responsibilities and provide a plan for streamlining the process through automation.
A successful social networking strategy will provide forums for your community, opportunities for comments, suggestions and feedback. It will open your eyes to the needs and expectations of your customers, and reveal your brand’s sincerity (or lack thereof) to your customers.
In the social network, sharing information is cool, selling is not.
Defining a Content Strategy and Process
Decide in advance what you want to offer the world. Will you help disseminate useful industry articles or how-to information for customers? Are you providing a bulletin board or scrapbook for people to their share experiences, stories or photos? How often will you post to your blogs, and how often is too much? Remember to respect your community’s time and intelligence: few are willing to digest dozens of posts a day and even fewer will follow a shameless pitchman. Save your sales talks for the one-to-one exchanges.
Wanderlust can help you decide what you have to offer, what your customers find relevant, and how you will generate content. If you’re sharing links and articles, your content may just be an FYI for context. If you’re planning daily blog posts, someone better set aside time to write. Assigning responsibilities and getting commitments from those people involved are essential steps to establishing and maintaining a consistent presence for your brand.
When things get ugly, successful brands make it right
Thoughtful Responses to Brand Feedback
When used improperly, social media looks a lot like mass media: it’s disruptive, loud and pushy. When managed properly, social media provides an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas with your stake holders. And while negative comments are almost inevitable, well managed social media provides a public forum for resolving complaints. With Wanderlust’s support, you’ll be ready to field all comments, and have a plan to correct errors quickly and openly, to help turn detractors into advocates and grow influence with people who promote brands by word of mouth.