When I'm giving businesses social media advice, l like to give practical advice that can be put into use straight away. Whether it's in a seminar I'm giving, a blog post or in a one-on-one chat, I want that person to have one key takeaway that they can put into practice almost immediately.
With this in mind, I've decided to put 10 practical tips on the one page that you can put into practice when marketing your tour or activity company using social media. For 10 more tips, you can read part two of this article here.
1. Create a social media strategy
As social media is so easy, many businesses use it before really thinking what they're using it for; without having any real strategy. But building a strategy doesn't have to be a long, arduous task.
It can be a short one - you just need to finalise things such as 'What are we using social media for?', 'Who do we want to target?' and 'How are we going to do it?'.
Once you answer these questions and get some plans in place you'll have yourself a strategy, meaning everything you do will have a purpose. Here's my advice on building a successful social media strategy.
2. See your 'ROI' (Return on Investment) by setting objectives
Too many businesses are wary of social media because they think it's hard to see a ROI. But once you set an objective and subsequent KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), figuring out your ROI is easy.
For instance, if you're using social media for customer service, then the number of queries answered via Twitter/Facebook etc shows you your ROI. If you're looking for traffic, the more traffic referrals you get from social networks, the bigger the ROI.
3. Register your 'vanity URL' on every social network
If you never plan on using Snapchat for marketing your tour or activity, this doesn't mean you shouldn't open a Snapchat account. The reason for this is so you own your brand name on every social channel, or your 'vanity URL' as it's known. You want to make sure nobody else is using your brand's name anywhere on the internet.
4. Take your social media seriously
There's a big problem with social media - it's too easy. It doesn't take a whole lot of skill to open a Twitter account and start tweeting away for a business. As a result, many businesses aren't taking it very seriously and allowing staff members without the required skillset to manage their account. Make sure you take your social media seriously as more people will see your activity than an ad in a newspaper.
5. Use a content calendar
If you don't have a content calendar you won't know what you published last week or the week before, meaning being consistent is difficult. The way to combat this is by having a content calendar. It doesn't have to be anything too complex, just something where you can see what's being share where and when.
6. Stop retweeting every tweet that mentions your business
If you're one who RT's every tweet that mentions your business, I have one word for you - stop. In fact, I've got two - please stop. If you are, you're probably not engaging with the people tweeting you. Also, you may be falling into the 'look at me' trap. Would you text all your friends to let them know your boss told you you're great? Then why RT your followers when somebody says how good you are?
When somebody tags you in a tweet with a compliment, engage with them and get a conversation going. Don't just simply RT and move on.
7. Have a blog on your website
If you don't have a blog on your website, get one. I've spoken about this before in greater detail, but just to recap... they're good for SEO, they give your brand a personality, they help position you as an authoritative voice and more.
8. Use hashtags correctly
Hashtags were originally just a Twitter thing but now they're used across all social channels. The problem is most people don't use them properly. There's no evidence that using them on Facebook give extra reach, but this doesn't mean they don't have a purpose there. They're good for campaigns, awareness and education.
On Twitter, too many can seem a bit desperate as hashtags have been proven to increase reach. Keep them to two a tweet.
On Instagram though, using the right hashtags is pivotal to increasing your reach. Hashtags such as #bestoftheday #igers<city> and others can bring your content, and subsequently company, to a wider audience.
9. Produce sticky, shareable content for your blog
If you're going to engage in content marketing by way of a blog, your content needs to be certain things. First of all, you want your content to be sticky. This means that people will read the content on your blog, remember your site for having quality blog posts, then return directly, giving you organic, direct traffic.
Secondly, you want your content to be shareable. This is self-explanatory - if you produce good content, it will be shared well via social media, thus giving you more traffic, thus reaching a wider audience.
Download our free content writing handbook for the best advice on building your blog, writing brilliant tour descriptions, and becoming a better writer.
10. Write discoverable, evergreen content
Your content needs to be two other things...
The first of these two things is 'discoverable'. Just like 'shareable', this is again self-explanatory. You want to make sure you write content that's found on search engines. To do this find out what people are searching for using tools like Google Keyword Planner, then optimise your content to suit those search terms.
Also, try to make your content 'evergreen'. What this means is write content that will be as relevant in five years time as it is the day you write it.
What's your number one social media tip? You can find ten more tips in part two of this article.
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Written by Colm Hanratty
Colm is Founder and Managing Director of digital marketing agency Sixtwo Digital. After running Hostelworld.com’s content and social media for almost 11 years he felt it was time to branch out on his own, using all his experience to educate others in the travel space.