Over the past months, both marketers and travel brands raised concerns and voiced scepticism towards the perceived value and usefulness of social media in tourism marketing. Nevertheless, social media budgets in travel are continuously increasing, despite marketers’ concerns (Skift). Following one of the latest eMarketer reports, paid social media expenditure in the US accounts for 5% to 10% of most travel companies’ digital budgets.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKTING
The rise in social media budgets, despite the growing concerns about the viability of social, reflects the realisation of travel marketers that it is important to meet the customers where they are online. Even if this means investing on ad spend in on social media sites. At the same time, the increase in ad spending is paralleled by an increase in sharing branded travel content from major social media platforms. Following research of the social sharing company Gigya in the last quarter of 2013, nearly 2 in 3 users shared branded travel content on Facebook, 17 percent shared content on Pinterest and 14 percent shared content on Twitter.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IS KEY
However, it is not sufficient for travel brands to invest in social media ad spending to successfully promote content. Sharing, engagement and therefore ultimately impressions, are depended on investing in suitable staff that can drive those interactions. In fact, for a travel brand to benefit from paid social, it needs to built a strong and engaging community first. Only then, paid social media can help increasing a brand's awareness.
FACEBOOK OUTPERFORMS COMPETITORS
While raising awareness is all good, quantifying the connection between social or mobile spend and an actual purchase remains difficult. This is a clear disadvantage of paid social media over other, more traditional forms of digital marketing, such as pay-per-click. However, if travel brands decide to engage in paid social media, Facebook is still their safest bet, according to the Skift report. The report asked US ad buyers for the network with the highest return on invest and Facebook (60%) outshines the major competitors LinkedIn (25%), Google+ (10%) and Twitter (5%) by far.
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