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Social Media Aggregation - The Blog

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Social Stories Drive Engagement and Transaction in Marketing Travel

As this recent Skift Article discusses, media brands and publishers are in the unique position to inspire travel decisions as traditional digital ads produce low conversion rates in comparison to the authentic stories, and “word of mouth” that has come as a result of the social sharing economy.

Understandably, media and social media channels will always play an important role in marketing tourism, but shouldn’t it be the travel brands themselves that place relevant, inspiring, personalized, real-time social stories at the point of sale?

The convergence of media platforms and screens, and the sharing economy has without a doubt altered the way consumers are researching and buying travel today.

How are marketers adjusting their website and content strategy to accommodate this?  The next big thing in marketing travel will have brands fully leveraging powerful social stories both the points of inspiration, and the point of transaction.

 

It is time for brands to re-claim the customer by delivering content that is what users expect:

Personalized: User generated stories personalized to desired user experience.

Real-time: Real examples of travellers who are sharing their experiences, alongside information about how to plan and book that experience.

Relevant: Website content that is current, with real-time social stories integrated and driving users to the point of transaction.

 

1.8 billion photos, 3.6 billion pieces of Facebook content, and 300 million Tweets posted daily  – all happening on social platforms not owned by the brand.

 

Smart marketers will leverage new technology, and social stories to take back the role of being the guide to the destination, product, service, instead of relying on intermediaries, media and other publishers to tell their stories.

Most brands need only to look at their Instagram followers to find true inspirational stories from brand ambassadors who are excited to tell them.

 

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Social Aggregation Platforms like ours www.hashtagio.com, (other solutions include; Stackla, TintUp and CrowdRiff) are the future for travel brands looking to fully harness the power of the social sharing economy.

Connect with us here to learn more about Hashtagio, and follow case studies of our users who are seeing returned website engagement, increased time-on-websites, and transactions – simply by leveraging their engaged fans to tell their stories.

 

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ABOUT HASHTAGIO: Hashtagio is a Searchable, Shoppable and Interactive Social Media Aggregation and Amplification Platform.  Connect with us at www.hashtagio.com, on Twitter and here on LinkedIn.

 

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Image Source: Deloitte Social Media Report for Travel 2015

Harnessing the power of UGC to drive customer aquisition

According to Forrester Research, US marketers are projected to spend $16.2 billion in social media advertising by 2019.  Brands are spending time and resources curating content, sharing and interacting with potential customers on social media channels, but are we truly harnessing the power of social and user-generated content to drive transactions?

Can pushing our customers to brand pages on social media be inadvertently driving customers away from the point of transaction?   What about the stories that are being created and shared every day by users who are telling stories and sharing experiences about your brand?

 

Are we missing the real opportunity that social media has created for marketers?

 

In a session produced by eCornell in June, I explored how the marketing mix has shifted in the age of social media.  Marketers have not truly unlocked the potential of social media,  and specifically user-generated content (UGC) in driving brand awareness, engagement and ultimately transactions.

 

The time and resources that brands spend in creating Social Media posts, images, and contests can actually be directing customer’s off  of the path-to-transaction.

 

Consider how many websites have a direct call-to-action, and link to “Visit us on Facebook” – taking customers off page to Instagram or Pinterest.  Some of those outbound links are even right off of the website home page!  In addition to spending marketing dollars on creating content for social media, why are we also driving hard earned website traffic off of the website to social media platforms that away from the website?  Marketers are spending time and resources creating content for Instagram and Facebook that may not ever be seen by the customer.  In fact, Facebook’s posts on brand pages often don’t even reach those that “Like” a brand page, buried in newsfeed and cluttered with Ad content.

How can marketers fix the broken path to purchase and truly harness the power of UGC and social media content?  I suggest the following:

 

1. Aggregate social media content.

2. Tag and organize both brand generated social media, and UGC.

3. Make social stories available at multiple places along the customer path to purchase – and at the point of transaction.

4. Keep customers engaged with your brand though the path-to-purchase, and lead them towards transaction.

Social Media Integration Platform

Think with Google advocates the importance of being available at all points along the customer path-to-conversion, noting the multiple consumer touch points along the road to transaction.  Additional research from Deloitte points to the importance specifically of social media and UGC as a primary source for travel ideas, ranking second (33%) only to friends and family (50%).

There is no question that user-generated and brand-generated social content bring value to the customer relationship, and build brand awareness, but ultimately sales and marketing efforts should encourage a measurable transaction, and metrics that illustrate success.

Increased”Likes” and “Comments” are not enough, especially now with Google’s increased focus on “Social Signals” in indexing websites. Without measuring how social content contributes to the customer path-to-purchase, and ultimately translates to sales, marketers a missing a powerful piece of the marketing mix.

Harnessing the power of Social and UGC (consumer reviews, fan photos and experiences, Likes, Shares) means integrating powerful social content into places along the consumer journey to purchase.  This might be the key to unlocking the the real value of social and UGC.

For more on this, watch the recap of the eCornell webinar here.  I will also be exploring this topic further in September at the Travel and Tourism Research Association Conference in Niagara Falls, Canada – with a specific focus on how injecting social and UGC into the marketing funnel can impact consumer engagement and buying behaviour.

 

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About: Alicia Whalen is the Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer for Hashtagio.com – The platform that harnesses the power of social and user- generated social content.

Connect with Alicia on Twitter and on LinkedIn

 

 

 

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