Today is the start of the World Youth Student Tourism Conference (WYSTC) in Manchester and this years theme is “innovation”. The first major session started with a panel discussion on the broad term of innovation – which unsurprisingly quickly took on a theme of social media.
The interesting thing however for me was the blind faith that all panellists had in Facebook – they simply see it as the ‘holy grail’ of social media marketing. In contrast, Twitter received a hiding; Mark Harris, CEO of CISS, when asked what is the most innovative thing at the moment launched into rant about Twitter saying that it had no purpose and no users. Likewise Technology Futurist Lee Crockett from CrammedSardine.com dismissed Twitter as only users under 30, “it will be dead in 2 years”.
Here is why I think Twitter is a brilliant tourism marketing tool and why I don’t think Facebook is necessarily that panacea.
- Twitter works for generating page views and attention for your brand. Sharing links on Twitter will generate clicks through to your website – obviously the number of clicks will be relative to your number of followers and the value of the information you shared. (I will do a separate post about how to actually implement a Twitter strategy later when I have time.)
- Twitter is a fabulous social aggregator which can be used to listen to a wide network of conversations. Searches can be run for your keywords against the Twitter stream and when you identify them you can jump into the conversation and help. For example, when I tweeted that I had book my flights from Manchester to Geneva for the weekend to meet a mate. Almost immediately I received a tweet from Hotel Bristol in Geneva asking if I had booked accommodation and would I like help. They would have been running a search against people who mentioned Geneva.
- Twitter has very easy API that can be developed against and the data mashed up into new inventive ways to present content. Both The Winery Project at My Aching Head and Experience Queenstown use Twitter data on their own website in interesting ways. The potential for the use of Twitter data on third party sites is completely unexplored in the tourism industry.
- Finally, Twitter can be used to make sales. The potential here is as yet untapped in the travel industry but for example, Joaquin in our office set up a Twitter account called @ToursNewZealand and tweeted a few gems about travelling in New Zealand. He also shared his own affiliate link for Naked Bus in New Zealand. The result he has earned himself over $200 in commission from only 300 followers.
To many Twitter might be seen as just the latest fad, but for those that actually take the time to understand it and identify a strategy that best suits their business there is enormous opportunities. Facebook in my opinion however is much harder to use a vehicle for marketing your business.
- Firstly, if you set up a Facebook Group it necessitates that the users actually visit the group page within Facebook which I challenge they don’t do very often.
- Facebook pages on the other hand are a better way to reach out to your customers because what you say appears on your fans pages, yet there is a very fine line on how much you can reasonably say before your message becomes spammy and fills up your fans wall and they unfollow you.
- People view Facebook like they view their email inbox – quite simply we don’t want to spammed or over marketed too within Facebook.
- There are many successful examples of Facebook marketing strategies. None less than the IDIDIT website that we developed for AJ Hacket Bungy New Zealand which gives customer the tools to share their Bungy Jumping photos and videos on Facebook. However, such development is usually expensive and way beyond any marketing budget that might be used on Twitter.
WYSTC continues all week and I will keep blogging where appropriate. You can get live updates by searching Twitter for #WYSTC also. Let’s hope there is no more Twitter bashing.