Yet another new year is upon us, so how will social media marketing evolve in 2019 and how can travel brands embrace some of the biggest updates to generate more buzz and sales?
Based on my experience managing social media channels for travel companies such as tour operators and travel agents, here are four social media trends that I think will flourish in 2019 and examples of how brands can incorporate them into their social media marketing activity:
Video, video, video
Video is going nowhere. According to recent Facebook statistics, 71% of people have increased their online video viewing over the last year and by 2020, over 75% of the world's mobile data traffic will be video. The popularity of video on social media is old news but going into 2019, there are now more exciting ways for brands to disseminate video, including Instagram’s IGTV and Facebook and Instagram’s Stories and Live features (see below).
It’s going to be more important than ever for travel brands to create and share videos on their social media channels on a regular basis going forward. Thankfully there are probably many opportunities for travel company teams to create such content – for example, when travel agent staff visit amazing destinations, hotels and restaurants on FAM trips. And it doesn’t need to be complicated. I recommend filming on an iPhone, keeping the format simple (for example, five highlights of a Seville city break, five honeymoon hotels in Mauritius, five winter wonderland activities in Lapland, etc) and using an easy video editing app such as Adobe Rush to edit the video.
Brands should also keep in mind that they can share even simpler, shorter, informal videos via Facebook and Instagram Stories; live-streaming videos via the Live feature on both channels and longer, mobile-only vertical videos on Instagram’s IGTV (said by some to become the new YouTube in three to five years!).
Live and Stories
Facebook Live broadcast watch times have quadrupled over the past year and since Live videos standardly receive six times as many interactions as regular videos, they rank higher in the newsfeed. Therefore, if you haven’t done so already, 2019 is the time to experiment with live-streaming on Facebook and/or Instagram.
Live-streaming is a wonderful tool for travel companies as it allows consumers to enjoy a behind-the-scenes live-action taste of your holidays in a way that wasn’t possible before. It feels authentic and exciting. And once again, the business of travel presents amazing opportunities for live-streaming content. For example, if you’re a tour operator, you could interview one of your most charismatic tour leaders/guides on location or your team’s destination experts could lead a live Q&A from the office where they answer questions and shares top tips about travel to a specific location.
Last year I joined one of my tour operator client’s trips in Norway and shared live video on its social media channels throughout. This content saw a higher than usual level of audience engagement, including over 1,000 people watching a live-stream of a whale watching boat trip.
The idea of live-streaming may initially sound daunting but the audience isn’t expecting it to be slick and perfect. Because of the ‘live’ nature, there probably will be mistakes – but this goes back to the growing demand for real, authentic content on social media and it can really help to build brand trust.
Similar content could also be shared via Facebook and Instagram’s disappearing-content feature, Stories; which is becoming especially popular on Instagram.
Working with the right Instagram influencers to promote your brand can really pay-off and I think this will become even more important in 2019.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be the most famous influencer with millions of followers. There are so many strong ‘micro-influencers’ these days, too – particularly those who are honest and relatable, which is increasingly important for social media audiences.
There are countless potential influencers for travel brands to work with – for example, to invite to document one of your holidays on their social channels - that it can be overwhelming to know where to start. My advice would be to build your Instagram audience first and follow influencer accounts that interest you and your brand to get a feel for potential partners.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be travel-specific influencers either. Sometimes a more authentic message can be delivered by, for example, a ‘mummy’ Instagrammer with a strong following. I mention ‘mummy’ influencers because since becoming a new mum myself last year, I have found some amazing parents to follow on Instagram who share very funny, honest, relatable content – and they usually need a holiday! Their posts generate hundreds of comments and the influence of these ‘micro-influencers’ that have thousands rather than millions of followers, should not be under-estimated.
Following the platform’s algorithm changes earlier this year, Facebook group activity now displays prominently on newsfeeds. While Facebook business pages can still achieve high audience reach by sharing the right type of content (content that sparks conversations usually performs well) and by running the right type of targeted adverts, I recommend that a travel brand considers creating a Facebook group that’s attached to its business page to step-up audience engagement.
Consider it an extension of the community that you’ve hopefully created with your business page – a forum where your guests can further their conversations and ask questions, and where the brand can share exclusive content that’s not available on the business page. For example, a Facebook group could be a powerful resource for a tour operator that specialises in group travel – where guests can connect before and after a trip, and where the brand could offer exclusive discounts to guests who have already travelled with the company.
Are you a travel brand that would like to take its social media marketing to the next level, using it in a way that generates more buzz and sales? I manage social media channels for brands on an ongoing basis, as well as offers training for brands looking to keep the activity in-house, where I provide practical tips and tricks. If you’re interested in my support, please email me on email@example.com.