Digital marketing in tourism has always been an important factor, just like in hospitality, and is positioned in the epicenter of the user’s tourism experience. Both small and large companies in tourist destinations have to be aware of this and take advantage of the new opportunities that arise in the sector. Tourism and technology go hand-in-hand and we can’t understand one without the other.
Social media has meant a change in the way we understand tourism, both for users and companies. Trends on social media set the path and companies are required to revise their marketing strategies so that they are present on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The numbers don’t lie; there are 4.2 billion social media users around the world and they don’t use social media for just news, laughing at memes, or following celebrities. They are using social media to share opinions, choose travel destinations, and learn about brands. Social media tourism has an audience.
Social media plays a tremendously important role in the decision making process of shoppers. Conscious of this, some networks like Facebook have improved their company pages and Instagram introduced its shopping feature to serve as a shopping platform. The change has arrived and we can’t ignore it. And although we live in times when it’s hard to travel due to COVID-19, we have faith in the future. That’s why we have to prepare a tourism marketing campaign for tough times.
Social media and tourism: the importance of a social media plan
Social media allows us to connect with our audience on a much deeper level. You create not just brand awareness with your audience, but also an awareness and a real empathy between the user and the product: a strong bond that brings us loyal clients and creates new business opportunities thanks to mouth-to-mouth, which adds a great value. For companies, social media is an instrument to monitor the brand, the competency and related industries; interact with users on topics related to the company and their community; publicize offers and answer complaints, suggestions, or user ideas in a direct way.
At the intersection between social media marketing and tourism, it’s very important to plan. Creating strategies, structuring your actions, and linking each new campaign to a concrete goal is key. On the other hand, you’re playing blind: you can be right with some ideas and fail with others, but you won’t be able to evaluate why and learn from your work. Your digital marketing plan for tourism can be the key that opens doors to a multitude of new clients, if you know how to do it:
Trends in tourism and social network: SOSTAC Methodology
The SOSTAC methodology was created by PR. Smith in 1990. This acronym outlines the necessary steps to follow when it comes to creating a digital strategy:
Environment and sector (market study)
Analysis of the proposed channels in the marketing and communication strategy
DAFO Analysis (provides a real vision of our position within the market and helps us to define the necessary strategies to optimize every action)
Define our public through the Buyer Persona and learn their behavior in the buying process through the Buyer Journey, the active search process that brings a potential consumer along until they buy our product or service.
Convert strangers into visitors, leads, consumers, and evangelists through the right content, according to the moment of the shopping process in which they are found. Content is king when we talk about digital marketing: work to the detail what information you share and how you present it according to the interest level of the lead. You should guide them along until they reach conversion.
Do everything that we can put into action to achieve defined goals. It’s important to establish the moment, in what way the actions will be carried out, and what Social Selling tools we will use to be able to track the effectiveness of our strategies.
Ensure that the strategy is being followed from all departments mentioned in the project and that the focus is still on the created goal. For that, it’s imperative to measure the ROI of your Social Media Marketing strategy. How do you do it? Establish your own metrics that adapt to the project. Analyze everything you do, week by week, month by month. Study your results and change the tactics and actions if you aren’t getting the desired results.
6 steps to create a tourism digital marketing plan
A digital marketing plan is a declaration of intent of the company to the market. Applied to the social media environment, it’s a document that allows for the organization and planning of the different social networks as online channels of communication with our users, with the goal of achieving the decided goals of the company. For this communication to be effective, we need to outline a pre-planned strategy based on the following points:
How to define our goals SMART GOALS
Depending on the trends of the tourism sector of the moment or the campaign in particular on which we are working, business goals can be different: increasing sales, improving our reputation online, converting new clients, etc. In the field of social media, the goals are:
Increasing sales → increase the frequency of sales, incentivize buying, look for sales opportunities, incentivize the need of or wish to use our products or services
Improving online reputation → maintain direct communication with the users through customer service
Converting new clients → increase the number of followers or fans of your community, create and share viral content that reaches more users, improve the online visibility of the company.
How to find our target audience: the need of the Buyer Persona in tourism
The buyer persona is fundamental because it is the element on which to build the entire strategy, thought for and by clients/tourists of our tourist destination, hotel, country house, or travel agency. It’s a detailed representation of our ideal client that we create from the study and analyze with the consumer data:
With/without children, age of children
Living alone/with a partner
Job, salary range, role, and functions
Beauty and fashion preferences
What they do in their free time
What they value, what they care about
We can have different Buyer Personas for the same tourism business, different client profiles that look for our products and services. However, we recommend starting with fewer to center efforts on directing the most relevant content to the appropriate audience.
Research and contextualize potential clients, analyze and evaluate the shopping behaviors of your clients and their consumption habits, and create a profile with highlighted data. Lend some humanity to your profile with photos and a biography that goes beyond their shopping habits: everything is important when it comes to creating a good BP.
Decide on which social networks to work
According to your target audience, create a strategy in which you have to decide on which networks you’ll have a presence and where you’re going to center your efforts. In each platform, the content strategy must be different.
Define the strategy and editorial calendar on each social network
It’s recommended to leave nothing to improvisation if you are looking for positive results. A pre-planned strategy will help you to not always publish the same thing and vary the type of content. YouTube and Facebook are the most frequently used social media platforms for B2B research:
Plan in a calendar what you are going to communicate, on what network, and at what moment you will be allowed to control each platform.
Have a crisis plan
Many companies don’t have a crisis plan that helps them face image conflicts. Developing a crisis plan in which we define a protocol allows us to avoid breakdowns as it helps us defend the company’s position and avoid losing our social reputation. At the same time, it allows us to inform and communicate the motives, causes, and position of the company to our community when facing any issue.
It’s not enough to just do. We have to know what is happening on each social network, what content is the most successful, which function is the worst, as well as their reach and the engagement that we have within the community. There are many technological solutions that help us manage networks and process data: Social Studio is an example. It’s found within the Salesforce ecosystem and with it we can actively listen to our company on the network from more than 650 million different sources, discover what’s trending, execute social marketing campaigns, and respond to clients in an attractive and correct way.
The digital marketing strategy formula
The plan is equal to Visibility + Proactivity + Reputation (P = V + P + R).
How do we obtain visibility?
Selecting the social channels that best adapt to the profile of our company
Criteria: where our actual or potential clients are
It’s better to be on fewer sites and update more than to be on many and not be active: Blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter…
Take care of the aesthetic: the first image is the one that counts and that also includes our own description (bio/about), fill all the possible fields
Create an editorial plan: what, who, to whom, how, when, where
How can we be proactive?
Take action and leave fear behind
Entering doesn’t cost much, staying behind could be expensive
See, listen, learn from the best
Content marketing: on the internet, content is the most important thing
Share quality content: unpublished, funny, creative, original. Show what we know or do best.
Spark/participate in debates/conversations, request opinions, create and make your community loyal
How do we take care of our reputation?
Monitor everything that is said about us
The key is knowing how we relate to people
Be humble and completely transparent
Respond to everything, as soon as we can
On the Internet, everything lasts forever. Remember that everything we publish can come back to bite us. Be cautious and think of the consequences.
Deal with trolls and reputation crises
With all this information, you’re ready to create a social media plan with which your social media and tourism networks can unite and be beneficial. If you need help, We Are Marketing is here for you.