As search engine optimization and marketing evolve to become mobile, local and social, the confluence of search and social is the most exciting tourism marketing trend, a main topic at last weeks EyeForTravel Social Media and Mobile Strategies Conference in San Francisco.
To capitalize on this opportunity, here are four important guidelines.
- Mobile devices are being used by your target audience more than you probably think, and where there are screens there are many ways to connect. Nearly 50% of travelers start leisure or business travel planning on their smartphones and continue on their desktop computers or tablets.Tablets are ideally suited for destination research while people relax at home. Smartphones, which 97% of all U.S. travelers will use by next year, help visitors search for directions, places to eat and things to do while on the go. So it’s critical that all your digital marketing vehicles, including your website and emails, display well on mobile phones and tablets. Restaurants and attractions would bode well to be aware of emerging near field communication and “near me now” sensors to prepare for the time when most phones will support location-based technology.
- People want to see rather than read about travel experiences, and consumers are more interested in their friends’ photos and videos than your brand images. That means it’s important to recruit social media influencers and make them your heroes as they create and share photos and reviews about your hotel, airline or destination. Curate that visual content and limit accompanying copy to 100-200-word descriptions for the web and a maximum of 100 characters for mobile communications.
- While it’s a minor player as a social network, Google+ has major impact in your brand’s search performance. Google is serving content from Google+, Frommer’s and Zagat on the right side of search pages and intends to integrate it at every layer from Gmail to YouTube. So it’s important to manage your brand’s Google+ business and community pages, keeping them up-to-date and encouraging super fans to share their photos, videos and reviews. Think of Google+ as an easy yet vital search engine optimization strategy.
- Nearly all travelers say reviews impact their booking decisions. More than 200 million consumers are looking at TripAdvisor reviews alone, so it’s important to monitor and respond to what people are saying about your hotel or destination. Consumers perceive a brand more positively when management responds to negative comments, typically asking the unhappy consumer to call or email them to resolve the issue. Note the language people are saying about your brand in review channels and use those same key words across your web and social sites to boost your search ranking.
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