Encouraging Social Conversation Throughout the Travel Continuum
By Piper Stevens Director of Social Media, Loews Hotels & Resorts | February 10, 2013
People want to be seen and heard. The introduction and quick adoption of social media has created a dynamic world in which everyone has a voice. Not all voices are created equal, but all voices expect to be heard and responded to – quickly. This desire to interact and project digitally in a public forum can be terrifying for brands with reputations on the line, but the companies that are taking a proactive approach to greet each consumer in a personalized and meaningful way are setting themselves apart.
The travel industry is no exception to these social conversations. With 87 percent of travelers using the internet for the bulk of their travel planning, consumers are relying on the experiences of others to build their own itineraries and make purchase decisions. Now, more than ever before, a brand's online presence and reputation is critical to driving success. In short, peoples' voices matter.
There are infinite digital resources positioned to assist consumers in all aspects of the travel continuum – from dreaming and researching to booking to traveling and sharing; therefore, ensuring your brand is part of the social conversation is well worth the required effort. The opportunity exists to amplify your brand message by engaging guests and potential guests via social media throughout their journey – every step of the way.
Phase 1: Dreaming
A traveler may not commit to vacation specifics, such as a location or a hotel, for months, but inserting your brand early in the social conversation should not be underestimated. The dreaming phase is centered on aspirational travel, not direct booking; however, social sites with visual appetite appeal like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr can be effective at driving traffic to brand websites.
In 2012, the social network darling Pinterest turned heads with the impressive amount of referral traffic that it generated – more than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. Brands should take advantage of a consumer's willingness to spend a considerable amount of time navigating through Pinterest – on average just under 16 minutes per visit – by engaging their wandering minds. Much like Facebook, a brand's Pinterest presence can develop quickly if the right content is published at the right time to maximize organic reach.
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