December 27, 2009

Follow travel experts online: social networks for travel writers

Create your own, or follow a professional travel blog
Create your own, or follow a professional travel blog blog
If you like this ...
View all »This has been a fascinating topic for me, and I’ve looked into it to understand the effectiveness of its new marketing trend better.

Travel industry players start more and more utilize online social networks to get the word out about their work (and drive traffic to the original publication of an article, which sometimes is the only means to pump up the writer's salary - through online traffic's clicks), as well as generate an alternative pool of customers to buy their products.

In the times of the economic turmoil, many travel industry businesses and writers choose to go online to reach out to their customers via popular social networks, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter and other sites.

Grow and sell your travel passion and trade online

This trend has been becoming a rather happening approach to use and many travel industry players, who used to “sell” their services via traditional means, say that the quantity of brand awareness and sales from their blogs, websites and social network profiles far surpass what they 'make on the street". And this is happening around the world – many members of the travel industry utilize global and local social networks for promoting and selling their works.

Retailing (books, articles, gadgets, gear, etc.) through blogs also grows and reaches the client base as it has not done before: subscribers (or followers and fans of a travel blog, for example) are kept updated about the latest tangible and intangible products through on site previews, inside looks and tips and even samples, as well as through the basic one-on-one correspondence with the site’s owner. This is a true new word-of-mouth “promotion” that strengthens the brand awareness.

Being exposed and open on social networks allows the travel industry professionals to put their new creations online to a selected group of “fans” who can provide their comments and suggestions immediately and in real-time, as well as can place orders and share the links with their friends and other networks.

Take for example one of the largest trade travel magazine Travel and Leisure Magazine – it has its own Twitter profile, one of the last update of which is: ”These trips aren't just self-indulgent retreats. They'll change your life. Which do you want to take? The Los Angeles Times offers its travel updates on its own Twitter profile as well: “New Year’s Eve at California theme parks: Shortly after Christmas, the same question arises every year:”.

Many young travel industry members especially increasingly start to exploit novel marketing models, made possible by growing Internet communities and social networks, to ‘market’ their creations directly and avoid the overheads of traditional distribution chains.

Internet with all its mobility and constant advancement, offers entrepreneurs around the world to connect with their local and international customers. From promoting of products almost exclusively through social networking websites to offering almost exclusively exhibitions and sample sales – online shops and showrooms on social networks is the next marketing novelty for people around the globe, and travelers take advantage of it as well, subscribing to various social network profiles and fan pages that offer “exclusive” articles, stories, deals and discussion forums of all about travel.

National Geographic Traveler has its own Facebook fan page, Economist offers links to its Business Traveler's articles on Facebook as well, and Bonjour Paris not only offers inside information about everything French, but also encourages its writers to use their own social networks to promote their work (thus - the website) – just to name a few. And these travel “profiles” offer networking, fun and educational events as well and let you in the previews of anything that would be coming up to the general public later in the time (you would know about it first!), which one can learn about by “subscribing” to the online social network profiles.

Downfalls of marketing on social networking sites

However, marketing exclusively on social networking sites has its downsides. It is time-consuming, and online communities expect constant interaction and immediate responses. Twitters, if not updated every so often during a day, become obsolete immediately, and fell of the radar.

There are a lot of travel writers I follow on Twitter, but without constant browsing and digging and following, I loose track of all of their links and updates. The same goes with other social networks, like Facebook and MySpace – most of which are used for personal communication rather than following some stories and trends, and those updates can become obsolete as well unless there are very few friends in your network who update their “statuses” and “profiles” – otherwise, an update from The Economist’s travel reporter, let’s say, is moved down below the threshold by an update from your friend.

Either way, the readership of online news has been growing faster than a traditional media would like it to, but to keep up with the social networks and any other online resources – now almost any self-respected newspaper and magazine offer blogs, Facebook fan pages, Twitter updates and such. It’s all a matter of choosing the ones that matter the most, and make time and place for their online messages and updates.

By the way, most of the travel writers, including myself, have their own travel blogs as well profiles Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks that are so good that they are bad. Addicting - that is.

1 comment:

jacob said...

Love to see this discussion! It’s great to see you all working through the issues and also, it’s great to see recommendations for testing. In the end, it’s what your actual users do and prefer that should be your biggest driver in making these decisions.
Great article and discussion!
online marketing