Social Media as a Marketing Tool for Tourism Businesses
Social media is all about people. To make the most of social media as a marketing tool for your tourism business, don't overlook the power of people both within and outside your organization.
Don't think of social media only as a platform for promoting your tours and travel experiences. By sharing interesting and engaging stories about your brand, take advantage of the opportunity to spotlight "people behind the logo" through social media.
The personal connections that your team members build - within your organization, with others from partner organizations, with your customers - are great assets to making social media marketing a success for your business.
Here are some ideas and tips on using social media effectively for professional networking and for finding opportunities for connecting and collaborating with people in your field.
Collaborate, Connect, Find and Be Found
John Heaven, who previously has worked with us on a Social Media Marketing course, uses Facebook Group and Google+ Community to stay in touch with colleagues and collaborate on projects.
"For the Social Media Week we used a Facebook Group, and in fact there is a global Facebook group for all the organisers from across the world. For the Social Media Surgery we use a Google Community, which is similar to a Facebook Group."
Having worked on many projects with virtual/international groups, he finds these social media groups and communities a helpful tool to keep up with tasks and to keep track of progress. Social media connections have also led to new projects and opportunities for John.
In addition to offers and requests that he receives on social sites focused on professional networking (e.g. Xing, which is similar to LinkedIn for the German speaking world), personal introductions by Twitter acquaintances have also led him to collaborating with like-minded professionals to develop new projects and events, including some hosted through the Social Media Week.
Social Media Collaboration and Networking Tips
Collaborate Within Your Organization
Make a habit of connecting and exchanging ideas with people from different departments of your company to find fresh perspectives and new ideas, and use social media (groups and communities to make it easy to engage those who would otherwise be unengaged).
Collaborating with your colleagues beyond your department or team is a great way to find unexpected stories about your business and increase opportunities for social conversations. For example, get your frontline staff (e.g. sales team, tour guides and others who come in direct contact with your customers) to create social media content by taking photos of their teams in action, or encourage staff members who are attending events to share live updates on social media.
Collaborate With Others in Your Field
Use social media to share your knowledge and expertise, so that your social contacts will know who to ask or introduce when there are relevant opportunities. Share articles, blog posts, presentations, etc. that offer useful industry insights into your particular areas of expertise. Join forums and other platforms for tourism industry professionals to discuss relevant issues and exchange ideas.
Being active on social media to stay in touch with your industry colleagues will be a great way to stay in the loop and be on top of exciting developments in your field - or sometimes be part of creating ideas even before they are developed.
Social media can also help you do a quick scan of people who may be able to help with your initiative or be involved in your event as partners, as you will have access to valuable information such as: Who are they connected to? Do we have relevant shared contacts? What have they done in the past that's related to my project? How do they interact with their followers?
Ask these questions as you search for possible new partners to reach out to, and think outside the box of your own industry fields or destinations. You may find brilliant content creators who can help enhance your efforts who are involved in areas typically not associated with your particular field, or even tourism. Be open and be creative, so you can make the most of those valuable networking and collaboration opportunities.