Social media can sometimes be seen as a buzzword or passing phenomena, but it’s a really powerful tool to market your business to your customer. Using social media tools is simply a way of marketing yourself through conversation and networking and how you communicate with people online. This is becoming more important with people increasingly turning to social media channels like twitter, facebook, linkedin and so on for recommendations about products or services from their friends, sharing information about their experiences and promoting businesses they like. As a tours and activities provider, tapping into this can be very powerful.
Hold your horses!
There are a lot of different social media tools to choose from, but before you launch into a full blown campaign, do your research and figure out what channel is best for your business. Your time is limited so with the best will in the world you’re not going to be able to engage meaningfully across all social media channels, so pick the ones that make most sense to your business.
The purpose of engaging in social media is to build up a community, to engage with that community and in the process this promotes you and your business. However, it’s not just about self-promotion and by continually doing this you will turn people off. If you have a special tours and activities offer or promotion of course let people know but it should be mixed in with other content which your customers find interesting and useful. Finding out what your customer is interested in will also take some research and discovery. Listen to your customers, what are they talking about and what do they want to hear?
In our previous blog post ‘Starting a Tourism Business Website – and Making it Effective’ we talk about the short attention span of consumers, so you need to grab their attention fast. Make your content short and snappy, your customers won’t read long winded posts and be creative, use a mixture of text, images and video to mix it up.
Lastly, if you are going to embark on a social media strategy plan it out and make sure it’s frequent.
Twitter can take some time to get to grips with, but once you know how to master it it can be quite a powerful tool. It allows you create a message or ‘tweet’ with 140 characters and send it to your followers. It’s a really useful way to reach a lot of people quite quickly, getting a message out there whether it’s just a fun post or if you’re highlighting a special promotion. Twitter can also be very viral – which means that if someone see’s something they like, they share it to their circle of contacts. So, think creatively about what would get people’s attention!
The social network has over 1bn users and is an ideal social media tool for tour operators or activity providers to use to promote their business. It’s important to create a Business Page which allows you to communicate directly with your customers and fans. One of the most powerful things about Facebook is the ability to target advertise. This can be done by geography, demographics, and by interests, so if you do use Facebook to advertise you can be very specific about who you want to target. And, like all your other social media channels, Facebook should not just be used purely for promotional information but also interesting and engaging content as well.
Linkedin is a business networking tool with over 150 million users worldwide with a high amount of business owners, decision makers and influencers. Think of it as the business version of Facebook. You create your personal profile (similar to a CV) on the site and then network with other people. Once you connect with someone else, you see who is in their network which helps you with getting business leads. also has ‘groups’ which are also very useful for networking and getting your business name known – see this useful article on using Linkedin Groups.
Join a group that has relevance for your tours and activities business or sector, other members might be similar business owners, industry leaders and influencers. By regularly engaging and interacting with your new community you are promoting yourself and your business.
Google+ is a business social network developed by Google. Although the take up was slow initially it is growing quite fast. You can have a personal and a business profile similar to Facebook but at the moment its’ more suitable for business networking.
Like all the social media channels the more you increase your digital footprint by engaging in these channels, the better your Search Engine Optimisation for rankings. Google+ has a bigger impact on this than the other channels, so it’s worth having an account. Want to learn more? check out this blog post by Moz.com
Blogging is a great way of creating fresh content for your website. You want to give your customers a reason to regularly check out your website, and if it’s the same content every time, they will stop doing it. We have talked about this before in our blog post ‘Starting a Tourism Business Website – and Making it Effective’ . This is a great free way of increasing your content, which gives Google extra pages to index!
There are many video sites that can be used to promote your business, YouTube being the main one. Google likes video and it therefore more likely to appear in search results. Video is a great way to mix up your content and another way to get found online.
You could upload videos of your tours and activities, or special promotion to your website, promote this out via Facebook or Twitter and also post the video on YouTube, which is also a huge search engine.
Pinterest is an image sharing site, with an estimated 70 million users worldwide. Businesses that produce quality visual content have the opportunity to have their images shared or ‘pinned’ by user, and there is greater chance of their content going viral. Once someone pins the image, the web address associated with that pin can serve to draw in new customers.
Businesses that don’t produce great images should think twice about engaging in this channel as it may not be worth their while. The majority of Pinterest users are women aged between 25-45, is this your target audience?
Making it work:
If you spend time on a social media channel by building content and regularly updating then you should let people know about it by promoting it. If you have a Facebook or twitter account, or have an active blog put the on your business cards, brochures or any posters in your store. If you have a website, put your social media logos and links to this up there as well.
This may seem obvious but once you are up and running and regularly posting content, engage with your community. If someone likes a photo or makes a comment on something you have posted, thank them or answer them if they have asked a question. This way you are encouraging interaction and your followers and they are more likely to engage.
Summary for Tours and Activities Providers:
Social media channels can be powerful tools, and tour and activity providers can use them to their advantage to stand out from the crowd. Whatever channels you decide to use, make sure that they are the right ones for your target audience; do some research as to what your customers are interested in; update regularly and remember, be patient, results won’t happen over night.