Social media has changed the way travelers communicate and share experiences. Hotel guests, frequent fliers and savvy vacationers use social media to share their travel experiences, both good and bad. So how do you turn those customers into advocates for your brand? Here are four ideas to get started:
Hashtag your brand off
Businesses that avidly use social media to promote their brands turn followers into prospects, and prospects into brand ambassadors. The hashtag symbol (#) is a simple way to identify your social posts and align them with social search engines across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The more you use social media, the more you’ll need to incorporate hashtags.
Moxy Hotels is a vibrant Marriott brand created with social media lovers in mind. This boutique chain encourages guests to tag their hotel experiences with #attheMoxy. As a result, Moxy guests become the brand’s “advocate army,” regularly sharing fun photos that chronicle their stays at the brand’s stylish, social hotels.
MSC Cruises shares the love on social media with travel partners and travel agent distributors using #MSCServingYou. Throughout February, the Swiss-based cruise line is giving away daily prizes for bookings made on any MSC ship. The branded hashtag honors travel agents, and in turn, empowers them to promote and book the cruise line for their clients.
Encourage customers to share and be social
Guests who’ve had a positive experience are often willing to share their opinions and experiences on your company’s website and/or social media sites. Ensure your website is mobile optimized and social- and user-friendly; this ensures clients can easily access your site via their smartphones to post reviews and share photos. Their recommendations become powerful endorsements that elevate your brand’s status and help you generate more business.
Gate 1 Travel encourages clients to share their photos via social media with #Gate1travel and also via its website. The site’s social photo wall engages prospective clients and keeps loyal customers coming back to book more travel fun.
Travel Leaders recently hosted a travel contest for consumers, #iTravelBetter. The photo contest encouraged Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users to share travel photos using the hashtag #iTravelBetter, and enter for a chance to win Delta and AeroMexico vacations. Working together as a trio for brand advocacy, this contest helped create a strong ambassador base for all three brands.
Tweet for rewards
Another way to turn followers into allies is to host a social contest on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Are you an airline? Give away a free pair of tickets to a destination of their choice. A cruise line? Consider awarding a cruise for two! Once you determine your prize or giveaway, post your announcement on your social sites, and ask followers to share or retweet. Just imagine the ripple effect as your brand ambassadors spread the contest news via their own social networks!
Joint promotions targeting specific travelers can also extend your message. Hyatt House Hotel and the blog Travelingmom.com have united to provide busy traveling families with vacation ideas centered on extended stay hotel experiences. Each month, the duo hosts Twitter forums and tweet-up contests where participants can win free hotel stays simply by joining one-hour discussions about featured destinations.
Build a super fan network
Creating strong online social presence requires dedicated investment and resources. While it may take time to build a positive online reputation, your network of faithful followers (a.k.a. super fans) will start sharing positive experiences, and the rewards will multiply. It’s also important to remember that once you create a connection with customers, they won’t necessarily shy away from posting a disappointing or negative experience. Therefore, all brands must continuously guard and protect their online reputations. How? By delivering on their promises with the highest quality products, services and customer care.
One last tip: Consider integrating social media across your websites, blogs, product pages and checkout/payment pages; this makes it easy for super fans to promote your goodness after every booking, flight, cruise or hotel stay. The simple act of posting a “like” or positive tweet builds a strong bridge between you and your customer – and opens the door to attract many more!
How do you leverage social media to turn followers into faithful brand ambassadors?