Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google My Business, TripAdviser, WhatsApp, Tiktok, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube…
How many social media platforms do you use? Let’s rephrase the question. How many of those do you actively use and how many are just shadow profiles with no content?
If you have more idle accounts than active, you are not alone. As social media platforms get more numerous, bigger and more influential, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with them.
In this article we give a short introduction to some of the most popular social media platforms to help you choose which to use. As many travel businesses today use several platforms, we are going to help you with that too. We’ll introduce you to some of the best online calendars and marketing automation to help you manage your social media content as easily as possible. You might also want to take a look at your article on how simple automation can make your life online easier.
Which social media platform to use?
“Do I have to be on EVERY platform?”
No, you don’t. It’s usually better to use fewer channels, but do it properly. The chances are, your customers use more than one social media platform. Do you know the preferences of your target audiences? If you haven’t yet analysed which social media platforms your customers use, take a look at our article about how to use personas in boosting your travel business.
It’s sensible to start with the social media platforms you yourself are accustomed to. But don’t let that hinder you from reaching out to your customers in new ways and trying new channels.
Social media platforms and how to use them
Here is a quick introduction to some of the most popular social media platforms and for whom and how to market using them. If you already know your channels, feel free to skip this part and head straight to the publishing tools.
Figure 1. The most popular social networks in July 2021 by active monthly users (in millions), Statista.com
The most popular with 2,85 billion monthly users. It makes sense to have a Facebook page for your travel business, especially if your target customers are over 35 year olds. Facebook is versatile in its content. You can share stories, images, links and videos.
You can link Facebook posts or ads to your website or booking calendar and send your customers where they can actually buy your products. This is not as easy on other social media platforms. That is one reason why Facebook is so popular with online marketers.
With a Facebook Business account you can customise your posts and paid ads to be shown to a very specific audience (age, area, interests etc.) and get analytics on how well your posts or ads perform. You can also show information about your business, like opening hours and job opportunities, and chat with your customers on Messenger.
With almost 1,4 billion monthly users, Instagram is based on shared photos and videos. Travel businesses with tempting images usually do well on Instagram. The hashtag #travel alone has about 600 million posts.
Use Instagram if you have a lot of visual content to share. It is also one of the favourite platforms for influencer marketing, along with YouTube. Instagram is not as effective for posting written content or sending customers to your website, but there are ways of doing this also. Users follow hashtags, so research which ones to use and brand yourself with.
Instagram is owned by Meta (the parent company for Facebook) so it’s easy to connect your accounts on both platforms, advertise on both and even manage both accounts through Facebook Business.
Twitter doesn’t report active monthly users, but it has about 400 million registered users in July 2021. About half of these use it daily. You can share videos, links, images etc. but the most important content are short written tweets (max. 240 characters long). Twitter is all about interaction between users: comments, retweeting what others have said and using relevant hashtags.
Use Twitter if connecting and engaging in discussions is relevant to your business. If your target audience is active on Twitter and you have interesting things to say, you can engage your customers and get more visibility for your brand. Twitter is not the most obvious platform for the tourist industry, but with good engaging content you can succeed in it.
It might be surprising but Pinterest is slightly more popular than Twitter with about 450 million active users per month in 2021. It is a bulletin board type of service where users can pin pictures and videos on their boards according to different categories.
Pinterest is especially popular with DIY enthusiasts. Fashion, food and photography are also popular topics. If your target customers fall into these categories, it could be a good idea to awaken their interest on Pinterest. You can add product information to so-called ‘Rich Pins’, but otherwise Pinterest is a wholly visual platform.
The original idea of Snapchat was that anything posted disappeared after viewing or in 24 hours. These days however, any content can easily be saved and posted elsewhere. Snapchat has 514 million monthly users in 2021. It can only be used on mobile. The core function is the ‘snap’: a multimedia message with a photo or a short video. It can be edited and augmented with text, filters, effects and drawings. Snaps can be sent privately or publicly in the ‘our story’ segment.
If teenagers are your target group, this is the platform to reach them. Snapchat is their number one platform closely followed by Instagram and TikTok. The biggest single age group of Snapchat users are the 18- to 24-year olds (37% of users).
If creating engaging videos is your thing, then you probably already are on YouTube. With almost 2,3 billion monthly users, it’s the second most popular platform in 2021. YouTube is a video-sharing platform where you can upload and comment content.
Today YouTube is owned by Google and aims to compete with movie and music streaming services. But the core of YouTube still are the free videos shared by it’s users.
Many businesses have their own YouTube channel where their videos are stored. It’s easy to embed a YouTube video on a website or share as a link on most platforms. But you don’t necessarily have to have your own channel. Businesses can also cooperate with influencers who can share material on their own channels to their followers. Read more about influencer marketing in our related article.
With about 260 million monthly users LinkedIn isn’t one of the biggest platforms. But with a very specific professional and job market target group, it might be the right platform for your business.
If your service caters especially to business travellers, here’s where you can find your audience. And even if you don’t use LinkedIn for marketing your business, you can join its travel industry related groups and build your own network of like minded peers and colleagues. This is a good way to keep on top of the latest news in your field of business.
TikTok might be the most talked about social media platform right now, but it still lags behind the giants with its 732 million monthly users in July 2021. The growth rate is really fast though and TikTok will probably reach Instagram in a year’s time. Because of the phenomenal growth rate it is difficult to find accurate demographic data of its users. The consensus seems to be that under 30 year olds are the biggest user group. But the TikTok audience is broader than Snapchat’s, with plenty of over 30 year olds.
The newest hit platform is bound to evolve quickly, so keep a lookout for marketing chances and ideas of how to reach your audience. TikTok ads are still in their infancy, so right now the best way to use it as a business is to become an active member. Build your brand with catchy videos, take part in the #hashtag challenges or engage with an influencer and have them share your brand. Whichever way you choose, pay special care to the music you use. TikTok was built on a previous Musical.ly platform so the tunes you use are important.
Publishing tools help you keep on top of your channels
Have you chosen the social media platforms you want to use for your travel business? Or would you like to increase the numbers, but don’t want the hassle of juggling many different accounts on different platforms? There are good working tools to help you with this. Here is a short introduction to some of them.
What are online social media calendars good for? And what aren’t they good for?
Social media publishing tools are no miracle cure to your congested marketing. It doesn’t relieve you of your core work: creating the content. You still have to create informative or engaging posts about your service. You still have to share photos or videos that are relevant to your unique story. But the online calendars help you to:
- Be where your preferred customers are and reach out to them on their homeground.
- Plan ahead and keep track of your posts.
- Keep your many social media channels active.
- Do this work when it best suits your timetable. The tool takes care of sending the message out at the right time and to the right place.
- Build a calendar of repeatable themes, texts and hashtags so you don’t have to do the same job over and over again.
What do you get for your money?
Every social media posting calendar has a free trial period, so you can try it before you commit to buying it. We strongly recommend you take a little time to get to know the publishing tool well before spending money on it. Or choose one you know you can get help with or a proper introduction to.
- Do you have friends or colleagues using one?
- What do they have to say about it?
There’s no use spending even a small amount of money on something that you feel is too difficult to use or makes no sense. These tools are made to make your life easier, not more difficult. Use one only if you feel it makes marketing on social media platforms easier for you.
The basic features in every online calendar tool
All online social media calendar tools have their unique features which make the comparisons difficult. But all these tools share some basic features. Recognising these will make the unique features easier to rate for your own needs. This is what you can expect from every product presented in this article.
Free trial period
Test the product before committing to it.
Social media calendar
The most important feature is the publishing calendar you can link your social media accounts to. In the calendar you can plan, write and edit all your social media posts in one place. You don’t have to separately go to each and every account to do it.
All calendars also have some editing tools to help you make your photos and videos the right size and length as well as simple filters to edit the mood. They have useful tips for text editing, relevant hashtag suggestions etc.
The best features of online calendars are that you can do all the editing when it best suits you, and plan well ahead. Do you have upcoming campaigns or events you want to market? Good, write them in your calendar and do as much editing in advance as you can. Choose which of your social media accounts you want to use or post in all of them. Do you have recurring events or themes? Save your templates from last year and make the posting faster and easier with simple retouches.
You can still spontaneously ‘post as you go’ as part of your workday. But using the calendar relieves you from the pressure of quickly coming up with something. When you have planned ahead for the busiest periods, you can concentrate on your main duties and still have relevant content on your active social media accounts. This way you keep your brand in the eyes and minds of your customers.
Posting timers and alerts
Just as you can edit the media you are posting, you can also edit the time you post on your different social media accounts. What’s the best weekday or time for your posts to reach your public? When do you need the information of an upcoming event to be out? You can set the posting timers well in advance or use the tips and hints from the calendar.
The calendar alerts you when your posts are published. You get an alert if you haven’t approved something to be posted and the scheduled time is coming up. The calendar is your personal social media secretary.
All social media platforms offer some kind of analytics to the business account owners. The calendar tools offer a little bit extra; better or easier to digest metrics on how your posts are performing, how many persons and what kind of persons have seen them or reacted to them. This is all useful information when you try to find the best way to connect with your customers.
Introduction to some of the best tools in social media automation
These tools keep evolving fast and getting better all the time. So it makes sense to check from time to time what’s on offer. But this list gives you an idea of what to expect and how to compare different products.
- Through Loomly you can post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google My Business, YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok. If your preferred platform isn’t one of these, you can also customise one channel yourself.
- Loomly lets you write the basic text to use as a baseline for every social platform, then customise it to best fit each one you use with helpful tips for every channel.
- Pricing is based on how many people are using your account, how many social accounts you have on Loomly and how many advanced features you need. If you are a small business with one or two persons using Loomly, you’ll do just fine with the cheapest base version.
- Loomly has a simple photo editor with filters. You can easily crop your pictures to the correct sizes for each social platform. It alerts you if you are trying to post a wrongly sized photo or if it thinks your posting time isn’t ideal.
- Later is a publishing tool made for Instagram but you can use it to share the same content on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok and LinkedIn. If Instagram is your main social platform, do check Later out.
- It has an easy to use drag and drop publishing calendar. When you’ve uploaded your photos or videos on Later, you can just choose which ones to post when and drag them to the correct place in the calendar. It also suggests new relevant hashtags and @mentions you might want to use with your individual posts.
- Visual editor makes photo and video editing simpler for you. You don’t need professional editing tools, which can be difficult to use if you are not familiar with them. Later also has a photo library you can use, but we strongly advise to use your own pictures whenever possible. You don’t want to post an image that has been used and seen elsewhere already.
- Linkin.bio might be the most interesting feature on Later for travel businesses. Instagram isn’t the easiest platform to drive customers to your website for the actual sales. But Later’s linkin.bio lets you make your posts into clickable links and send your audience to your website or anywhere else on the web you want them to see.
- CoSchedule’s marketing calendar can be used to post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
- It is more versatile than the other purely social media focused calendars. If you for example have a WordPress website or use Mailchimp for your email marketing or newsletters, you can link them to your CoSchedule calendar. This way you can also plan blogs, landing pages or other new content for your website and plan your newsletters or marketing emails in the same calendar with your social media.
- Because of the extra features, CoSchedule is also pricier than the other tools. But if you feel you profit from the extra features, it’s worth the extra cost.
- Besides the calendar tool, CoSchedule also has other features you might be interested in. Like a Headline Studio to improve your headlines and lessons in online marketing.
- Sprout Social’s calendar feature lets you post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest.
- You can monitor and respond to customers’ messages from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all in a single inbox in Sprout.
- Perhaps the most useful extra feature for travel businesses in Sprout, compared to others, is that you can monitor and manage the reviews the customers give you in Facebook, Google My Business, TripAdvisor and Glassdoor.
- Sprout has its own Instagram linking tool SproutLink which is similar to Later’s Linkin.bio. It also offers you ready templates to help you plan your content and make sense of the analytics you get.
- Sprout is the priciest tool of this list, so it might be out of reach for the smaller businesses. But if you have a bit more volume, the review management feature might well be worth the extra investment.
- From this calendar you can manage your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Messenger, WhatsApp, and YouTube posts and messaging.
- Like Sprout, Falcon lets you monitor and answer customers’ messages in one place. If you use Messenger and WhatsApp with your customers, Falcon makes it easier for you to answer in time and in order of emergency.
- Falcon specialises in collecting customer info with individual customer cards and audience analytics. This helps you to target the right markets both with your content and your social media presence.
- Falcon.IO also offers handbooks and webinars on many subjects from emoji guide to content marketing.
- Falcon is from the pricier range of social media management tools, but if you need a better understanding of your audience, you should check out what Falcon.IO has to offer.
There are lots of ways to use social media in marketing your travel business: as a calling card, to make your brand known, for directing your audience to your store or website for sales, for customer care or keeping in touch with them. Or all of the above.
- Choose first who you want to reach.
- That will lead you to the right social media platforms.
- If you use many of them, it makes sense to invest in a calendar tool to help manage your content and/or your contacts with your customers.
- Which calendar tool is best for you depends on which channels you use and what you use them for.
Did this article help your social media marketing?
Are you going to try one of the calendar tools to help manage your accounts?
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