The Tour Operators Essential Guide to Social Media Marketing
To succeed as a tour operator in Africa, it’s vital that you increase your online visibility and reach more potential customers. Current trends show that social media platforms are one of the main places that travelers all over the world look for travel inspiration and information.
If you want to reach this huge, global audience, you need to create and maintain an active online presence. The popular social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat.
In this guide, we’ll first present you with some social media marketing essentials to get you started. Then, we’ll continue with top tips for each of the popular social media platforms. Follow these tips to increase your bookings and publicize your business to the world:
Social Media Marketing Essentials
Whatever social media platforms you decide to use, follow these rules:
Plan a creative social media strategy
Before setting up any accounts or posting any content, sit down and form a plan for a creative and unique marketing strategy. Take time to think of something innovative that will help your brand stand out from the crowd.
Focus on quality
It’s always better to post high-quality content, even if this means you only have time to use one or two social media platforms. Facebook is the most popular platform, so if you only have time for one platform, that’s a good one to choose.
Keep images crisp and professional, and ensure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes on your posts. This will impress your potential customers.
Create a schedule for your social media posts and stick to it. This makes it easier to manage your marketing strategy, and your followers will also appreciate your reliability. If you disappear for a long length of time, you’ll probably lose followers. Likewise, if you suddenly post multiple times a day, it could be overwhelming.
Use cross-channel promotion
Whenever you post interesting content to a social media platform, you should link to it on your other platforms. This will build up your fan base across the Internet and grow your online presence rapidly. It also decreases the need for unique content on every platform, which saves you time. For example, tweet links to your Facebook content and share Instagram images on Facebook.
Use paid advertising
Use some of your marketing budget to invest in the paid advertising opportunities provided by each social media platform. Special algorithms will display your paid advertisement to a relevant target audience, so this can be a great way to get new customers.
Leverage customer testimonials
Reviews and recommendations are a powerful marketing tool. By sharing customer reviews and encouraging customers to review their tour experience with you, you’ll build your brand’s trustworthiness. This will make potential customers more likely to book a tour with you.
Create a Facebook page to promote your business, and use these tips to make the most of it:
Share images and videos
When a user is scrolling down their Facebook newsfeed, you’ll want to get their attention. Do this by posting lots of eye-catching, professional images and videos.
Post interesting links
Post links to relevant content that might be useful or interesting for your potential customers. Firstly, this means you don’t always need to come up with your own unique content. Secondly, it takes you beyond simple self-promotion and shows customers that you have a genuine desire to help them.
Make posts concise
The ideal Facebook post is 40 characters. Keep posts under 80 characters for maximum engagement.
Engage in two-way conversations
Respond to comments and show a willingness to communicate with your customers. Especially when it comes to positive feedback from past customers, you can showcase your customer service by offering a thank you for their comment. In the case of a complaint, a swift, polite response showing willingness to assist can minimize any negative impact.
Once you’ve opened your twitter account, make sure to follow these tips:
Get followers and follow popular users
Follow relevant Twitter accounts, such as ones belonging to influencers including travel experts. You should also follow past customers. Some of these people may follow you back, and maybe even retweet your posts. Retweet and mention your followers too, especially influencers, to increase your online exposure.
Use images and links
Tweets with images get 150% more retweets. Include images to attract the attention of your followers. You should also share useful articles that followers might enjoy and retweet.
People search for relevant topics using hashtags. Become familiar with popular, relevant hashtags and use them. For example, using the hashtag #Africa will allow you to reach potential travelers interested in visiting Africa.
Showcase customer service
As with Facebook, respond to any comments about your brand as soon as possible. Deal with complaints promptly and offer solutions. Always be friendly and professional.
Offer tips and advice
Nothing shows you care more than offering your followers travel advice. For example, if someone is visiting your area, recommend a restaurant. It increases trust in your brand and is far more valuable than self-promotion.
Instagram lets your share images and make them look great with a variety of filters. Here’s how to make your Instagram posts #instagood:
Post photos from your tours
Nothing is quite as alluring as seeing people having a good time. Show pictures from your tours, complete with breathtaking views, awe-inspiring landscapes, beautiful wildlife, and most importantly – happy customers. Share pictures taken by customers as well as ones you have taken yourself.
Instagram’s filters are a great way to add depth to a photograph and give it an atmospheric feel that will catch people’s attention. Remember to use good quality pictures.
Use popular hashtags
Like Twitter, Instagram has popular hashtags. Use the right hashtags to ensure your images appear to relevant audiences. For example, when you post a picture from a tour, include your location as a hashtag.
Post a few times a day
Post regularly, but not too often, to keep your followers interested without taking up their entire feed. Learn more about Instagram for travel industry businesses here.
Create virtual pinboards that will attract customers, with the help of these top tips:
Create interesting and useful boards
Create interesting boards. These could include travel itineraries, and individual boards for different travel destinations. Place pins about local attractions and restaurants that users might want to visit on vacation. If they come across your pin board when looking for travel inspiration, they may well want to book a tour with you as part of their trip.
Invite popular users to contribute to your boards
Ask influencers to contribute, such as travel experts or local businesses. Collaboration often results in high quality content with a wide audience of followers.
Try and use your own images whenever possible. Create your own infographics and use your own photography. Include links that lead to your website or blog.
The latest popular addition to the social media family, Snapchat, allows you to send videos and pictures (snaps) that self-destruct seconds after being viewed. It’s a fun concept, and can be used for some innovative marketing with these tips:
Set your profile to public
It’s an easy step but one that is often over-looked. Make sure your profile is public so that people all over the world can find and view your content.
Add your snaps to a 24-hour collection called a ‘story’. These can then be shared with all of your followers, and the world. This is in contrast to individual snaps which can only be sent to one person.
Share unpolished, behind-the-scenes images and videos
When you share stories or send snaps, include unedited, behind-the-scenes images and action shots from your tours. This might go against previous advice to be professional, but Snapchat in particular lends itself to this more frivolous form of communication. Use the provided captions and stickers for more fun.
Offer previews, teasers, and coupons codes
By sending frequent snaps, you can offer teasers and previews. For example, you can send a picture of a new upcoming tour program, with an ambiguous caption. With each snap, give a few more details, keeping friends interested and waiting in anticipation for more information. You can also use a series of snaps to provide coupon codes for special discounts.
Attracting your customers through social media marketing is only part of battle to get increased bookings. Once customers visit your site and choose to book a tour with you, you’ll want to ensure that their booking process is streamlined, seamless, easy, safe, and fast. Working with a local payment provider such as DPO, that has PCI DSS Level 1 certification , can help by providing:
A safe, secure booking process
PCI DSS Level 1 certification will ensure the customer’s booking process is highly secure and sensitive payment information is safe at all times. A local PSP also offers increased familiarity with local fraud risks, and provides advanced risk management services, so your business and your customers have maximum protection from fraud.
Multiple payment methods and currencies
Working with a local payment service provider allows you to accept multiple currencies and payment methods such as credit cards, mobile wallets, and bank transfers. Local and international customers alike can then choose the currency and payment method they prefer.
An understanding of your market and the international market
A local payment service provider can speak your language and will understand your local market, so you can easily communicate your needs and requirements. Of course, being experts, they will also have a strong understanding of the international market, so you can accept bookings from customers all over the world.
An improved overall customer experience
Customers want a seamless booking process. An integrated online payment system, such as the one provided by DPO, offers a simple interface through which customers can make any type of payment in a few, easy steps.
Get your social media campaigns up and running to attract new customers and foster interest in your tours. Once that’s done, don’t forget to seal the deal with a seamless booking process provided by a PCI DSS level 1 certified PSP, such as DPO.