Social Media for Travel Agents

Love it or loathe it, social media has changed everything about the way we plan, talk about, share, book, and sell Globetrotting adventures. Here, we look at three of the biggest and most popular platforms, how to use them, and some traps to avoid!

Facebook

None of us want this reminder, but Facebook is affectionately known as ‘the platform my parents use.’ Recovered from reading that? Good. Because unless you’re targeting the under 30s specifically, this fact makes it all the more important you keep your Facebook page up and active. Facebook is still the #1 social media platform out there, and every age group from older millennials to Boomers and beyond still uses it regularly.

What to do: Travel content is easy to share here! Who doesn’t like seeing beautiful images and reading interesting facts about places they dream about seeing some day? The catch is, you want your followers to associate those stories with you and your agency. So make sure they’re linked up to your blog or website. Facebook also loves to filter, or ‘strangle’ content, preventing many users from seeing it. Judiciously using Facebook ads and assigning a sensible budget will massively expand your reach by lifting those blocks to new customers.

What not to do: Don’t overdo it on the ads. You can absolutely post great specials to your page, but don’t make every single post about your latest deal. Remember, social media is about your brand and presence, not immediate sales leads. With that being said, you do want to see sales at the end of the tunnel, so again, don’t forget to link your Facebook to your blog or website, or post links that take visitors there.

Twitter

Twitter is faster and more spontaneous than Facebook, and until it recently expanded its character limit, it required you to be much more succinct. Everyone is on it, including young users, but its more democratic nature – showing the latest content, without regard for its popularity – makes timing more important. You’ll want to tweet when people are going to be on their Twitter, which is usually on lunch breaks and during rush hour. The catch? Everyone else is tweeting their content then too.

What to do: More than even Facebook, Twitter is a social medium where you need to make contact with other profiles and users. Follow your fellow Globetrotters and like and retweet their tweets. Use (correct and applicable) keywords and sparingly use hashtags. Be generous and friendly (but genuine), engaging with your colleagues and clients. Use Tweetdeck to schedule your tweets for optimal exposure to your target audience.

What not to do: Don’t overdo direct sales tweets. Save them for deals that are unusually good and don’t plug them more than a couple of times. Following a laundry list of random people in the hope they’ll follow back is also a big no-no, and more importantly, a waste of your time. Follow people whose content you like, and whose tweets relate to yours.

Instagram

Photos are everything when you’re promoting travel. As a result, your Instagram account can be the ideal platform to reach younger travellers, and it has a clear appeal to busy, time-poor clients. If you can capture through your Instagram feed what your agency is all about, it creates a fantastic space to build up a loyal following.

What to do: Think of Instagram as a big, beautiful photo gallery you control. Consistency is key, meaning not just regular posts, but a consistent tone. If your Instagram is about great destination pictures (and ultimately, these destinations – even if they’re cruise ships or trains – are your product), keep it that way. Be sparing with any office photos, and try to use these in a fun, engaging way that doesn’t jar with your usual style. These could feature your office pets (you will never be as popular as your cat on the internet), office celebrations, or baking triumphs. Just don’t overdo them, and use relevant hashtags. Too many hashtags looks desperate and unfocused, so keep it to two or three. Spend some time exploring similar Instagram accounts to see which tags are popular and most effective. Bigger (more posts with the tag) doesn’t always mean better.

What not to do: Unless you’re on the road 365 days a year (lucky you), your share-worthy photos are going to come in bursts of a few days or weeks. Don’t post them all at once! Instead, keep the inspiration going year round and make each post count with a great picture or a small set. The ability to post a small set of photos in one post is a relatively recent addition to Instagram, but many users won’t flick through multiple photos in the stack, so limit the stack to a few, and keep them focused on the same subject. Maybe save photos from a particular destination if you want to ‘feature’ it at some later time. Another thing to avoid is switching between radically different filters on every shot. Either find a filter you like (or stick with #NoFilter) to give your page a consistent, professional look, keeping in mind not all filters will suit all shots. Also, Instagram is not the place for stock images. Post your own.

No matter where you focus your social media presence, building up a following requires consistency, commitment, practice, interaction, and above all else, quality content.

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