It seems as if nowadays travel marketing success is measured by the number of followers your social media has. This is especially true for hospitality and tourism businesses, which have started to look to Instagram and other trending social media platforms to attract new potential customers. Content feeds from industry giants like the Hilton Hotels, and Expedia boast thousands of followers and are the envy of the town.
However, while we all fight for attention in a race to get views, likes, and followers, there’s a giant elephant in the room. For the purpose of making this more entertaining, let’s give the elephant a name: Dave. Dave really wants to know whether more followers will actually mean more business. Dave wants to see if he will generate more revenue to increase his bottom line. If not, he wonders, why spend precious resources of money and personal hours working that social media magic?
Since Dave is often ignored, and we don’t want to be rude, let’s answer his question.
When it comes to travel and tourism marketing, do followers on social media like Instagram actually mean anything?
Yes…and no. See, it’s a little more complicated than that. The issue is, some followers actually do mean something. The ideal followers can equal money. And it’s precisely these followers that you as a tourism business need to be focusing on attracting and selling to.
First, let’s address the fact that having followers is never a negative thing. If nothing else, the larger numbers will impress people who are interested in doing business with you, and will make your page seem more attractive to other potential followers just initially interested in your content. Ultimately having more followers attracts more followers and its a vicious cycle.
However, Instagram is plagued by what can be referred to as passive followers. These are people who follow you in the hopes of getting a follow back, but never actually interact with you. And a great many of these passive followers are computer-generated, and aren’t actual users who regularly use the app to view photos and profiles. While they may make your numbers look shiny and large, they never convert to buyers, and attracting buyers is the reason why you got an Instagram in the first place. Right? These passive followers are the ones who make the numbers not actually mean that much. These are the followers that I never recommend pursuing. We want to support you in attracting active and engaged followers.
Instead of spending your marketing time, energy, and resources on these passive followers, pay attention to the other kind: The engaged followers. These are the people who actually engage with your brand. They like your pictures, comment on your posts, and, sometimes, ideally become actual customers. If you want your return on investment of time & energy into social media posting to be significant, you need to focus on the people who will bring in real life sales, and not just boost your brand confidence through empty passive numbers.
Because you want to turn follower numbers into direct sales, you need to come up with a social media marketing strategy that targets specific followers. This target group is comprised of anyone who will be genuinely interested in your brand and could become an idea customer. In travel and hospitality, this means attracting people who are interested in travel specifically. I know it is fun to post pictures of other things, but focus on what travelers like. If you can narrow it to a specific type of traveling, ie adventure, active, luxury, culinary, cultural, even better. A luxury travel brand should post pictures that speak to and regularly invite people who want to travel in comfort and style. High-end resorts, fine restaurants around your area, and exclusive locations should dominate this type of Instagram feed. Sprinkle in fashion, architecture, design and other elements of luxury and you are set! Talk to, direct message with and comment on people who will look beyond your pictures and see an opportunity to fulfill a want or a need that they already have to travel to your destination in the world.
The Experience Experts pro tip: Include calls-to-action in your Instagram posts so an engaged followers knows exactly what to do with their interest and contact your travel and tourism business directly.
If you want your social media follower numbers to actually mean SOMETHING, you need to focus on the quality rather than the quantity of those followers. Twenty-thousand followers means nothing, if they are not targeted, ideal and engaged with your brand and offerings. After all, no one wants to give a concert at the Boston Symphony Hall if it’s going to be empty. No matter how beautiful and curated your social media content make sure the right audience is watching. Target the followers who will be genuinely interested in your product, building a long-term relationship and the numbers will not only grow, but also convert to real sales!