You already know that social media marketing is important, but what does that mean for your tour and activities company? If you have limited time and money to spend building a social media presence, getting started can be intimidating. It's tempting to throw all your content on one platform and hope for the best, but with a little care and attention you can take advantage of every major platform and build the following your business deserves.
Working in tourism, you probably have some great sights to share with your customers — and if that's true, you should be on Instagram.
During Facebook's most recent earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg shared that 400 million Instagram users open the app or visit the site in a given day. That's a huge user base, and unlike other social networks it's remarkably easy to get your content in front of them.
With a phone and a few minutes a day, you can build a following. Promoting your posts and planning an aggressive content strategy may get you further, but those things absolutely aren’t necessary if you’re working with limited resources.
There are three key points to Instagram success:
- Quality content: Instagram isn't the place for casual snapshots. Find the most impressive views available to you, and photograph them looking their best. When you have a shot you love, don't go overboard with the filters. The most popular filters tend to be the ones that enhance your images without overwhelming their natural beauty.
- Popular hashtags: Instagram users appreciate quality content, but they won't see it if you aren't careful with your hashtags. Hashtag overload can be a problem on other social networks, but not nearly as much on Instagram — TrackMaven research suggests that you should be using about 5 hashtags per post if you want to maximize your interaction. Hootsuite offers a great guide on getting the most from your hashtags, or you can use a service like TagBlender to pick popular tags.
- Consistency: Once Instagram users take notice, you need to hold onto their attention. Aim to post a photo a day using consistent (and appropriate) hashtags and you'll become a fixture in users' feeds.
Instagram Stories may also be worth checking out if you want to include more casual content. They’re temporary slideshows of your photos that won’t show up directly on your followers’ feeds. Brands are still figuring out the best ways to use them, but the consensus seems to be that while they’re popular, they require a lot of active attention and won’t get you much reach. If you’re still building a following, stick with traditional photos or videos.
Everyone’s on Facebook, so it’s impossible to ignore. The company reported 1.23 billion daily active users in December of 2016 — that’s a good portion of the global population checking their news feeds every day.
Sadly, the days of Facebook posts seeing massive viral spread are over. In its quest to be the biggest, most profitable social network, Facebook has significantly cut down the reach of average Page posts. Without a marketing team or an ad budget, finding brand-new customers via Facebook can be a chore.
There are still a few ways you can promote your business and your activities on Facebook without spending a lot, though, and they go well beyond sharing your sales and promo codes.
If your customers are already booking your activities through Rezgo, why post them on Facebook? Simple: it expands your reach. When your customers RSVP to a Facebook event, there's a good chance Facebook will let their friends know about it. Just make sure your event has an eye-catching name and photo, and link to its booking page in the event description. If you have a major event coming up, it might even be worth paying to boost it into the feeds of the demographics you serve.
Organic reach may be at an all-time low for most post types on Facebook, but video is riding high. By default, videos will autoplay silently in users' feeds, so the most effective Facebook videos grab viewers' attention in the first few seconds and include text captions — the more immediately engaging, the better. Video isn't cheap, but it could be worth the investment.
To be more specific, pre-recorded video isn't cheap. Live video can be. If you already have some followers on Facebook, get them excited for your activities with a preview of some of the exciting sights or fun they can look forward to. According to a post by Facebook product manager Vibhi Kant, live videos are currently given a boost to the top of your followers’ feeds.
"We are making a small update to News Feed so that Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live."
That isn’t likely to stay true for long, so now’s the time to jump in. Videos that are currently live get watched 3x more than those that aren't, so pick a time your customers are likely to be online. According to HubSpot, afternoons may be your best bet.
"The best time to post on Facebook is 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Other optimal times include 12:00–1:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and 1:00–4:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays."
While you don't need to worry about post-production with Facebook Live, you should take the time to plan, ensure you have a strong connection, eliminate background noise, and decide how much you want to interact with your audience during filming. If someone at your company is particularly good on camera, recruit them to be the face of your Facebook videos.
Since you’re going to all this work to get potential customers excited for your activities, why not take the extra step to give them an easy path to booking? The Rezgo Facebook app lets customers start the booking process right from your Facebook page, so you’ll be able to take advantage of the interest you inspire.
The easiest way to use Twitter when you’re short on time and budget room is to automatically post your Facebook content there — but that’s not going to get the notice of many Twitter users. If you want to engage people on this platform, you’ll need to participate in the conversation 140 characters at a time.
Your Twitter strategy should take into account three types of interactions:
Once you’re on Twitter, your customers will use it as a point of contact for questions, complaints, and occasionally compliments. All three are great opportunities to connect and build your brand. First, you’ll need to hear about them, so make sure to keep an eye on your notifications and use an app like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to search for your company name.
No one wants to see their company publicly smeared online, so complaints on Twitter can seem like a crisis. They aren’t — unless you let them escalate. If you find someone complaining, contact them directly, apologize for the inconvenience, and ask them to reach out through Twitter’s private direct message (DM) system. You can open your DMs to anyone, and they allow you to use more than 140 characters.
Once you’re talking privately, you can defuse the situation with your customer and look for a resolution without making a complicated conversation public. Questions can be handled similarly, or through replies if the answer is simple.
Compliments are easier — just thank the customer and retweet them. That way all your followers will know that someone thinks you’re awesome.
Over time, you can use Twitter to build up your brand. Part of that is sharing content you think your followers will find relevant.
Follow travel writers who talk about your region, big names who participate in the type of activity you sell, and anyone else who seems relevant to your company’s brand. Whenever they say something that directly or indirectly promotes your company or your company’s values, retweet them. If you align your brand with a cause, that’s another type of content you should share. You can follow your competition, too, but you might not want to boost their content with retweets.
In order to have an identity on Twitter, you need to create some of your own content. Stick to content relevant to your company or its values — if you want to share your opinions, a personal Twitter account is a far better venue. Beyond that, experiment. Share photos of your activities, location, or staff. Share news about upcoming additions to your schedule. Share links to your tours. And of course, share promotions. Original content should make up a good portion of your feed.
Snapchat isn't generally seen as a great investment for companies that don't create content aimed at millennials. As we noted in our Social Media Cheat Sheet, content on Snapchat is transitory, it requires a lot of attention, and baby boomers have no interest in it whatsoever. Even so, it has the potential to be a huge boon to your business.
A recent SC-1 filing revealed some interesting facts about Snapchat’s user base. As expected, the vast majority of its users are 18-34, and a negligible amount are over 50. Most are in North America and Europe, but the platform’s growth is happening in other regions. And the average Snapchat user opens the app a ridiculous 18 times a day, sticking around for a total of 25-30 minutes.
Reaching those users is a challenge, since they’re a fickle audience and you need to keep up a steady flow of transitory content. Your limited resources could probably be used better elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore Snapchat entirely. If even a portion of your activities draw in customers within that 18-34 age range, Snapchat Geofilters could be an amazing, cost-effective marketing opportunity.
You may not know it, but your younger customers are probably already using Snapchat during your activities. Instead of struggling to create content for them, use the content that they're already creating to get your brand out to other like-minded millennials. To learn how, check out our guide to using Snapchat Geofilters for your tours and activities.