There is no doubt about the importance of social media in the digital era, and especially for tourism, it is still increasing as travellers are more and more getting social, sharing experiences and engaging with with tourism brands. The more consumers are liking, commenting or pinning brands on social media, the better it is for these brand’s overall visibility on the web. Social media does impact on search, making it a very important topic for marketers to consider when trying to rank highly in searches. For consumers, it is also very interesting to read these more social comments that might show up in searches conducted on the search engine of choice. Local SEO is becoming increasingly important, especially for local busineeses, as SEO is actually integrating word-of-mouth, and other user-generated content in order to increase the overall transparency of businesses (iMedia 2013).
Social check-ins by consumers can be very powerful. As consumers are specifically checking into a local business or destination, there is a clear intent of the consumer to show that the business or destination was visited. This instantly increases the overall visibility of this particular location, as friends and family can see the check-in on Facebook, Foursquare or Yelp and also consumers who are searching for the business or location can also see that people have checked in through the improved local SEO.
Foursquare is a platform very well known for social check-ins which approaches the check-in sphere in a more gamified way, offering incentives to consumers checking in. After checkin into a specific location several times, consumers can become the ‘mayor’ of this particular place or get discounts for food, drinks or tickets or even get something for free. This loyalty incentive works very well for many local businesses and also engages the consumer with the brand, making sure even small businesses can ensure that consumers are using their loyalty programme.
Yelp is a review site that added a check-in feature to compete with popular check-in sites such as Foursquare. Giving consumers the chance to check-in and leave a more personal review by also posting images is seen as a great way to take advantage of increased digital traffic to businesses sites and also real life visits to businesses which is the ultimate goal.
With the launch of Facebook’s graph search, check-ins have also become very important, as users searching their network for friends and family that have stayed in a certain place or hotel will instantly see whether their friends liked it. This social search and results shown will impact on their decision making. Encouraging consumers to check-in and leave a review is therefore absolutely crucial.
Integrating social into local SEO is essential for businesses in the future. Get social and local is therefore a key consideration for all tourism organisations wanting to leverage the power of social check-ins.
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