Social Media Platforms Every Tour Operator Should Use
While you might associate social media with pictures of food and videos of teenagers doing dangerous challenges, it’s actually an important marketing tool for businesses, particularly in the travel and tourism industry. For starters, it gives you a chance to reach prospects who might otherwise not know about your tours. Posting regularly on a variety of social media platforms allows you to engage with your guests so that you stay in front of them. And finally, it helps direct followers to your website, where they can learn more or make a booking.
Each social media platform has its own features and requires different tactics, and some might make more sense for your business than others. This guide gives you a rundown of the social media platforms you should consider using for your business and the types of content that work best on each platform.
Instagram is one of the biggest social media platforms today, and due to its visual nature, it’s the perfect platform for tour operators to show off all the beautiful, interesting, unique places you visit on your tours or activities. This is the ideal platform to share photos of customer experiences, user-generated content, and stunning landscape shots.
Follow these tips to make the most of your Instagram account:
- Make sure you’re using a business account: Note: Instagram is owned by Facebook, so you will need admin access to your Facebook account!
- If you’re not already using an Instagram business account, you can make the switch easily by going to your “Account Settings” and selecting the “Switch to Business Profile” option. Next, you’re asked to log into your business’ Facebook page as an Admin, then select the information you want Instagram to pull from your Facebook profile. It’s not necessary to link to a Facebook page, but if you’re planning to create Instagram ads, you will have to link it as all ads are created through Facebook.
- Switching to a business profile allows you to get analytics about your followers and post engagement. You’ll have inside information about likes, saved posts, impressions and reach, and comments, which helps you understand what works best for your business.
- Create video content: Video is becoming a bigger part of social media each year. According to HubSpot, 54% of consumers want to see more video content from the brands they support. With features like Instagram Stories, IGTV, and the ability to upload 60-second videos in the main feed, Instagram is a great platform to engage your audiences with awesome, short-form video content.
- Tag your photos: An easy way to increase the exposure of all your posts is to tag them with your destination and use keywords related to the industry you’re in.
- Use #hashtags: Using hashtags is another way to serve up your photos to people who may not follow your account (yet!) but do follow hashtags related to your business. For example, an Instagram user may follow general hashtags like “beachlife or #denverfoodies. If your business is located on the beach or if you offer a food tour in Denver, you definitely want to tag your Insta posts with these kinds of general interest hashtags to help people discover your business.
Almost every business out there is on Facebook, and for good reason. This community-based platform is a great place for potential customers to find you and see what previous customers have to say about your tours or activities, so it helps lend trustworthiness and authenticity to your business. It’s also the only platform that appeals widely to the same number of users across every age group under the age of 65, so you are able to reach a large and diverse audience base. Facebook is a great place to post about promotional offers, events, and customer testimonials.
Facebook is great for tour operators because it allows you to find groups of people who are specifically interested in what your business provides. There’s a Facebook group for essentially every interest and topic out there, such as local foodie groups, kayaking aficionados, photography lovers, etc. To make the most out of this platform, make sure you join the groups relevant to your business, and update your Facebook account regularly with photos, video clips, blog posts, and information about your tours and activities to engage your existing customer base and help prospective travelers and customers learn more about what you have to offer.
This professional networking platform is particularly useful for businesses that offer corporate tours, team-building activities, and corporate celebrations. If this is a big part of your business, it’s a good idea to have a presence on LinkedIn to get in front of potential customers. This platform is more popular with users who have a higher education level and income, so if that is the audience you’re targeting, it’s a good place to be discovered.
You’re likely to find decision-makers on this platform — 45% of its users are in upper management (Hootsuite). These are the people making the calls for their company, so it’s a good place to create brand awareness. For tour operators, this is a great place to promote your brand to those who are responsible for booking tours or activities for the entire staff as a team-building event or celebration.
LinkedIn is also a great place to connect with other tour operators and those in your industry who you can learn from and potentially partner with. Networking is always good for business growth!
Twitter is a conversation-based platform that specializes in providing real-time content. This is a good place to post about business updates and limited-time offers and deals. Twitter is a fast-paced platform, which can be both good and bad. Your posts have a shorter shelf life, as they’ll be quickly replaced by new posts, but this gives you the opportunity to post lots of updates without burning out your followers. For tour operators, Twitter is an ideal platform to answer customer questions in real time and join ongoing conversations relevant to your industry.
A few tips to make the most of your Twitter account:
- Use keywords in your hashtags: Think about the keywords that best describe your business and industry, and do some research into the keywords that are trending. Using hashtags such as #travel, #kayaking, or #[your destination] can help you attract new followers who are interested in those topics.
- Post when users are active: Posting at the right time can make all the difference between capturing your audience and sending your Tweets out into the void. Some experts suggest posting between 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the most exposure. You can also find the times when your audience is active by using the analytics tools provided by Twitter as well as Google Analytics.
- Post often: It’s a numbers game when it comes to Twitter. The more you post, the more chances you have to get hearts and retweets.
Did you know YouTube is the second-most visited website in existence (Hootsuite)? This platform gets 1.9 billion logged-in users visiting it every month, which is a large section of everyone on the internet. With this in mind, it’s clear why all businesses should have a YouTube account, but tour operators can see even more benefits from using YouTube than the average user. The travel and tourism industry lends itself seamlessly to videos that sell an experience and that show people having a great time participating in your tour or activity.
Sharing videos on YouTube can foster loyalty, inspire potential customers to find out more about you, and makes it easy to drop video links on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. As we mentioned earlier, video is driving more and more traffic online. Creating videos on YouTube allows you to share this content across multiple platforms, attract new audiences, and provide a visual of the awesome services you provide, which will help people decide to book with you.
This platform is made up almost entirely of users ages 18 – 24, who account for 73% of their user base (Omnicore), so if this the audience you’re targeting, it’s a good idea to get on this platform. People in this age group report spending about 40 minutes a day on average on Snapchat, making it a great way to get in front of your target audience and increase brand awareness.
In the travel and tourism industry, Snapchat can be used to showcase people having a blast on your tours with short clips of them going flying on a zip line or jumping into the water from your boat. The content on this platform only lasts for so long, so you can experiment with different formats and get creative with your posts!
Pinterest has a fairly specific user base: 70% of their users are women, and 80% of mothers who use the internet use Pinterest (Omnicore). If you’re trying to target mothers planning a family vacation, this is a great platform to be on. Share your photos on themed boards related to the services you offer to help you connect with travelers on contemporary businesses. For example, if you offer tours on the beach, find some beach and ocean inspiration boards to post great photos of your location. A lot of travelers go to Pinterest for destination inspiration, so it’s the perfect platform for tour operators to showcase the stunning locations visited on your tours.
General Social Media Tips
As you can see, there are a lot of social media platforms for you to consider, and they have different applications for your business. As you build your social media strategy, keep these tips in mind:
- Don’t think that you have to be on every single social media platform out there. Instead, be realistic: Consider how much time you can dedicate to pulling together content for your social media channels and how frequently you want to post to each site.
- Social media pages give local businesses the opportunity to engage with customers on a more personal level, so even though you don’t have to have a presence on all of them, you definitely want to pick a few to focus on to build awareness of your business.
- Managing multiple accounts can get a bit messy, so consider using apps and tools like Sprout Social, HootSuite, or Buffer to schedule all of your posts to go live at certain times of the day. This way, you can sit down and plan out all of your social media posts for the whole week, and then you can focus on all the other aspects of your business. Of course, when an opportunity arises to post something timely and relevant, jump in and do so!
- Whether you’re busy on Facebook, are just getting started with Twitter, or are active on sites like Pinterest and Instagram, you need to take the time to engage with other users in order to build your online presence. Don’t just publish your posts and forget about them. Check on comments, engage in conversations, and keep an eye on other businesses in your industry to see if they’re posting content you can share.
- Avoid spamming fans and followers with updates about your specials, ads about your offerings, or anything that sounds like a sales pitch. This is what advertisements are for. Focus instead on sharing unique and interesting content that your fans and followers will want to share on their social networks.
If you’re already active on social media, you can use these tips to improve your strategy and make the most of your account. If you’re just getting started with social media, pick the platform that makes the most sense for your business to get started, and you’ll be a pro in no time! Check out our other social media guides for additional tips and trends.