Social media has changed by leaps and bounds in comparison to the ways it was utilized by consumers and businesses when it was first developed and implemented by individuals and organizations. As with any type of product or activity that is technology-related, social media is prone to many changes, advancements and developments during the course of the next few years. Social media will not remain static for long, as even in the past few years it has been constantly evolving and changing. This is one implication that marketers will have to be aware of moving forward with their social media strategies. Organizations must be constantly in-tune with social media and any changes and developments that are occurring.
Another implication that is bound to occur is the establishment of new and different social media sites. I can remember about 10 years ago MySpace was the “hot” social media site, and had more users than Facebook or other similar sites. Now MySpace is practically unheard of, and Facebook has taken its place as far as popularity among consumers (and businesses). As social media continues to grow as a whole, there will be different sites that are established in an effort to reach different consumers. This is another implication for marketers – as the current strategy being utilized on sites like Twitter and Facebook may need to be completely altered should a new and different social media site be established and become popular. An organization may have to completely re-design their current social media strategy to fit with new sites that could be developed in the future. The particular implication will be a result of both technological changes as well as changes in human behaviors.
Another implication that will more likely occur at some point in time is the fade of social media. Similar to the way it grew and became extremely popular in the matter of a couple of years, social media will more than likely fade out and become less popular with consumers at some point in the future. This is not to say that something like this will occur at any time soon, but it will more than likely occur at some period of time in the future. This will probably be a result of both technological and human behavior changes. There could be a point in time where no additional advancements in the types of social media sites available to consumers are available and this may in turn cause consumers to get very bored with the sites and eventually lose interest. That being said, it is important that organizations are careful in the future with how much time and money they spend on social media. It is also important that other forms of marketing are still being utilized and the company is solely relying on social media.
Viral marketing is an effective way for an organization to spread a particular marketing message or simply raise brand awareness among consumers. With the current rise of social media and its popularity among consumers, these channels have enabled companies to create these viral marketing campaigns and promote them quickly and efficiently across various social media sites. Because of the nature of social media and the internet, these type of sites allow information to be communicated very quickly when compared to more traditional methods (Dickinson, 2014). If implemented properly, viral marketing initiatives can be very successful and an effective tool for any brand.
There are certain characteristics that help a marketing initiative “go viral” and be considered a successful viral marketing campaign. The top five characteristics of a successful viral marketing campaign include the following:
- Interactivity – when it comes to social media and marketing initiatives it is important that they contain an interactive component and intrigue consumers to become involved and create a personalized experience (Dickinson, 2014). An example of a successful viral marketing campaign that utilized interactivity is the Lays “Do Us a Flavor” campaign. This particular initiative allowed the consumers to engage and interactive with the brand through suggesting new chip flavors the company could implement into their product line. This campaign was hugely successful for the Lays brand, the company reported over 3.6 million flavor submissions and a +1% increase in household penetration, +2% among the target millennial audience as well as an overall increase in followers and activity on social media sites such as Facebook (Internationalist, 2013).
- Gives away products or services – Consumers are more likely to engage in any initiative when there is an incentive to participate such as a prize or reward. The Lays “Do Us a Flavor” campaign utilized a giveaway as well, offering 1 million dollars to the consumer who created the winning flavor. Another example of a successful viral campaign that utilized a giveaway is Virgin Blue airlines. During the anniversary of their maiden voyage, the company gave away 1,000 plan tickets for $9 through their Twitter account. This campaign helped to build the new airline’s customer base and ultimately increase brand awareness (ProspectMX, n.d.)
- Make sharing easy – Another important aspect of any viral marketing campaign on social media is to make sharing the content easy for consumers who are engaging with it. Viral marketing initiatives should utilize social media optimization to help the efficiency with which the information is spread via social media and ultimately increase the awareness of the campaign. Lays “Do Us a Flavor” also utilized social media optimization through the use of widgets and badges. When creating a flavor, a widget appeared so that the consumer could “share” their new chip flavor via social media. The “Do Us a Flavor” website also utilized badges that took the user directly to their corresponding social media pages such as Facebook or Twitter. Almost every successful viral marketing campaign utilizes these types of tactics to allow consumers to share the initiative with other consumers on social media sites.
- Utilize already existing communication networks – For a viral marketing campaign to be most effective it should be promoted through communication networks that are already present (Wilson, 2012). Social media sites are a great example of ways that viral marketing initiatives can be promoted among consumers. Practically all brands or organizations that attempt to implement and promote such a marketing initiative do so through their social media pages. As previously mentioned the Lays “Do Us a Flavor” campaign was promoted on all of the brand’s social media sites. Another example of social media and viral marketing is the current “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge”. This initiative is sweeping across all different social media sites and has created a high level of awareness among any consumer who is actively engaged with social media sites.
- Humor or some type of emotional response – For a campaign to be memorable and ultimately become popular among consumers, it must elicit some type of emotional response within the consumer. Perhaps the most memorable and successful marketing initiatives include some type of humor or compassion within consumers. An example of a successful viral marketing campaign that utilized humor and tugged at the consumers heart strings at the same time is the Evian “Roller Babies” commercial that was sweeping across YouTube and social media sites (the video can be seen below). The spot was humorous but cute at the same time and ulatimely earned a spot in the Guinness World Records as the most viewed online ad ever, with more than 25 million views in less than two months (Ankeny, 2014).
There are a number of characteristics that should be utilized within a viral marketing campaign strategy and they ultimately depend on the overall objectives of the initiative. However, the five characteristics listed above should be considered by each and every brand in designing and implementing a viral marketing campaign.
Ankeny, J. (May, 2014). “How These 10 Marketing Campaigns Became Viral Hits”. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233207
Dickson, J. (2014). Module Nine: Viral Marketing and Widgets. Retrieved from SNHU Blackboard: https://bb.snhu.edu/bbcswebdav/courses/MKT-655-14TW4-MASTER/MKT-655-14TW2-MASTER_ImportedContent_20131105035729/MKT_655_M9_Overview.pdf
Internationalist. (2013). “Frito Lay: Do Us a Flavor”. Retrieved from http://www.internationalist-awards.com/digital_2013/Silver-Frito.html
ProspectMX. (n.d.). “15 of the Best Viral Marketing Campaigns”. Retrieved from http://www.prospectmx.com/15-of-the-best-viral-marketing-campaigns/
Wilson, R. (May, 2012). “The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing”. Retrieved from http://webmarketingtoday.com/articles/viral-principles/
Hilton and Marriot are two of the most popular hotel chains in the hospitality industry. Not only are these brands among the top hotel chains known around the globe, but they also have some of the savviest digital presences in the world (Hitz, 2014). Both of these brands are at the top of the list as far as social networking is concerned. Not only are the brands present on nearly all social media sites, but they are actively engaged on the sites and put forth a very strong effort to connect with their guests, both present and potential. As seen in the image below, both Marriot and Hilton are practically tied in Twitter engagement over time (Marriot = red line, Hilton = orange line).
The two brands are neck-in-neck not only in overall Twitter engagement, but in relative share of followers as well (Hitz, 2014). While the social media sites that these brands are present on, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Google+, are practically identical the overall social media strategy of each have both similarities and differences. Both of these top brands have one thing in mind when executing their social media efforts: current and potential customers. While both brands ultimately are focused on the customer, the actual strategies that each brand uses in their social media efforts are quite different.
Hilton takes more of a “reactive” approach to their customers. Hilton’s social media strategy is focused on managing their guests feedback through listening, responding, resolving and implementing (HotelNewsNow, 2012). Their social media channels are monitored on a normal basis to engage with any consumer having any type of issue with their stay or previous stay. Hilton is more concerned with using social media to build relationships with past customers, while Marriot uses their social media channels to focus more on attracting potential customers. Marriot uses their social media sites to engage with Gen X and Gen Y travelers and encourage a platform for dialogue and conversation (HotelNewsNow, 2012). While Marriot definitely also uses these sites to address and customer service issues, their primary concern is creating an environment for customer engagement and a means to determine traveler needs and concerns.
Hitz, L. (February, 2014). “5 Social Media Lessons Learned From Hotel Brands“. Retrieved from http://simplymeasured.com/blog/2014/02/28/5-social-media-lessons-learned-from-hotel-brands/
HotelNewsNow (December, 2012). “Top Hotel Brands Share Social Media Tactics”. Retrieved from http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Article/9603/Top-hotel-brands-share-social-media-tactics
Social media strategies are used across a variety of industries for a variety of reasons. There are five primary objectives that companies successfully pursue in implementing a social media strategy and one should be chosen based on the overall objectives of the organization. These five objectives include the following (Li & Bernoff, 2011):
1. Listening – This strategy is best suited for research and to help an organization to better understand their customers. This type of strategy is appropriate for particular companies and organizations that are seeking customer insights to use in future marketing strategies and development of the company. In destination marketing this type of strategy is very common, as destinations seek to understand exactly what customers are looking for when determining where to take a vacation. Through this type of strategy DMOs can determine exactly what consumers look for in a destination when they are planning their vacations. This helps the destination to either change their marketing strategies to emphasize different aspects of the destination, or it helps the destination to undergo development and offer new things.
2. Talking – This type of strategy allows the company to spread particular information regarding their company. In destination marketing, talking through social media allows the destination to promote various events or aspects of the destination to consumers.
3. Energizing – This strategy takes the opinions of the organization’s most enthusiastic customers and promote them through word of mouth. This type of strategy is often used in destination marketing when consumers are very pleased with their vacations many times the destination will ask them to share their experience on social media to help convince other travelers to plan a visit to the destination.
4. Supporting – This strategy is used by the organization to help set up particular tools or ways in which consumers can help each other. Many of the social media sites for destinations exhibit this type of strategy without the intention of doing so. For example if consumers share their experiences on social media through posting photos or reviews, it may ultimately help a potential traveler to make their decision of whether or not to travel to the destination.
5. Embracing – This strategy integrates consumers into the way the particular organization works – for example using their input or opinions when designing the way a particular product works. In destination marketing, the opinions of consumers are constantly taken into consideration. Destinations take the feedback from consumers into consideration all of the time when developing their marketing strategies or when improving/enhancing the destination itself. Since the consumer experience ultimately makes or breaks a destination, it is important that these DMOs take consumers into high consideration.
These particular strategies mentioned above should be taken into consideration by all organizations that are utilizing a social media strategy. The practices that are chosen by an organization can make or break the overall social media strategy as a whole (Li & Bernoff, 2011). These practices are used across all different types of social media sites from Twitter to blogs and should be highly considered by any organization that is considering the implementation of a social media strategy. For example, on Twitter all of these various strategies should be utilized when managing a Twitter account for any organization.
1. Listening to Twitter – It is important that brands pay attention to and listen to what consumers are saying regarding their organization on Twitter.
2. Talking to Twitter – Organizations must create quality content to be pushed out on Twitter. The company should think about what they can offer on the social media site that may be picked up and repeated by other Twitter users (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
3. Energizing on Twitter – This is done by finding those Twitter users who are fans of the company’s products or services and amplifying their voices on the social media sites. This includes both responding to them through Tweets or Retweeting them
4. Supporting with Twitter – Many companies use Twitter as a means to support their consumers. This allows consumers to Tweet their problems or issues and someone from the organization responds with a solution to their problem through the Twitter page.
5. Embracing with Twitter – Twitter can be used to drive consumers to surveys or places where they can leave their feedback. This allows the organization to take that feedback into consideration in the future.
Overall it is very important that all of the strategies mentioned above are taken into consideration across all sites within a company’s social media strategy. This will help the organization to get the most out of their social media sites and help them to connect with their consumers and help them to make improvements based on the feedback they receive from those consumers.
Bernoff, J, Li, C. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Publishing
While the social media scene is constantly increasing in popularity and many destinations are jumping on board in an effort to promote their destination, there are of course risks involved and mistakes any DMO should be very cognizant of and avoid. First and foremost when “posting” on any social media site the marketer should be very aware of their key target markets and time zones. It is important that these “posts” are made during the times of days when potential travelers will see them, and not simply during their working hours. For example, Barbados key target market is the UK and in the diagram below it shows that Barbados tourism posts at times that are not opportunistic of reaching their potential travelers (Martin, 2014). This type of social media activity ultimately results in wasted efforts and not effectively reaching target consumers of the destination.
Another obvious mistake that DMOs make when utilizing social media is not speaking the language of potential consumers who may consider visiting the destination. There are some destinations such as Indonesia and Ibeza that Tweet almost entirely in their own language (see example below), when they are targeting travelers from all over the globe. Not customizing your social media strategy to effectively reach different consumers around the world will more than likely prevent some consumers from visiting and ultimately cost the destination potential visitors.
Many destinations choose to operate either various social media pages displayed in different languages or one page with various translations listed. The examples below show two different options: 1 post with various translations or separate social media accounts that are language specific
Many DMOs also utilize various social media accounts but choose to use “auto posting” or do not upload many pictures to their sites. These common mistakes run the risk of not catching the consumers’ attention and/or ineffectively promoting the destination. Creating strong content on social media pages through various posts and photos will more than likely drive traffic to the destination’s website and ultimately cause travelers to visit the area, whereas ineffectively utilizing social media will not only do a poor job at promoting the destination but it will be a waste of time and effort as well.
As with any industry and the use of social media, there is always the risk of potential negative feedback from dissatisfied consumers. This is perhaps one of the biggest risks of social media as you cannot control what types of things consumers may say on social media and many individuals look to the opinions and experiences of their peers when looking for something specifically. This is especially true when it comes to destination marketing and travelers planning various trips or vacations; they tend to ask their friends, families and acquaintances where they should (or should not) travel to. If one consumer posts something negative about a particular destination on social media it will more than likely turn away at least one potential visitor. While this is a risk involved when using social media in destination marketing, it is a risk that is definitely worth taking. As long as the negative feedback is addressed and responded to in a very professional and courteous manner it will more than likely outweigh the one negative opinion or at least help consumers to see that the destination cares enough to make a response to the dissatisfied consumer.
Overall the benefits definitely outweigh the risks when it comes to social media and destination marketing. If the destination pays attention to their potential consumers and the types of information they are looking for or what they want to see then the social media strategy will more than likely drive traffic to the destination website and ultimately cause travelers to book trips to the area.
Martin, B. (January, 2014). “8 Social Media Mistakes Tourism Boards Should Avoid.” Retrieved from http://www.gingerjuice.co.uk/social-media-mistakes-tourism-boards-make/
For those of you who are not familiar with the social media application “FourSquare”, it is a location-based social networking site that individuals access from their mobile device when visiting different locations. This mobile application allows users to “check-in” to a location when visiting, whether it be a landmark, attraction, bar or restaurant, this application allows other users to see where you are. Not only is it a way for individuals to stay connected with one another and see what the other is doing, but when visiting an unfamiliar area one can log-in to FourSquare to see various locations that may be close to where they are located. This type of mobile application is obviously helpful when an individual is traveling or vacationing to a certain destination.
Most recently FourSquare has unveiled a new feature that allows users to create various lists of certain genres. For example, one could create a list of potential places to visit on an upcoming vacation or one could create list of restaurants with outside seating. This can be used in destination marketing because it allows tourism organizations to create customized lists for visitors. This helps the visitor to plan their trip to the area and also acts as a form of free advertising for those attractions or venues that are being included in the particular list being utilized. These lists can not only be separated into specific categories such as hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping, etc. but these lists could also be customized depending on the type of trip the vacationer is taking to the area. For example lists could be created for a “Romantic Getaway” or “Girls Weekend” (Miller, 2011).
FourSquare, especially with the new features that are being developed, allows destinations to connect with their visitors on an entirely new level and helps travelers to navigate the area with less of a hassle. Similar to other social media applications such as Instagram and Facebook, FourSquare also helps the destination to gain exposure and awareness among consumers.
Miller, D. (September, 2011). “FourSquare Lists Perfect for Destinations”. Retrieved from http://socialhospitality.com/2011/09/foursquare-lists-for-destinations/
Consumers are constantly utilizing social media sites, especially when they travel. Travelers help destinations with their social media marketing strategy by utilizing sites such as Facebook and Instagram to document their vacations. Consumers also rely on sites such as FourSquare that allows them the capability to “check-in” to certain locations while they are traveling and visiting various attractions or restaurants.
Not only are consumers helping DMOs with their social media marketing through heavy use of social media sites while they are traveling, but these destinations are currently utilizing their own social media accounts to help promote their location. These sites include various blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Through the use of these sites the destinations can not only promote themselves on social media in hopes of gaining exposure and attracting potential visitors, but it also allows the linked page to be visible when travelers attempt to “check-in” or mention a particular location in a post on their social media page. This not only helps the destination to promote themselves but allows travelers and visitors to promote the location for them.
Destination marketing and social media go hand-in-hand. There are very few (if any) destinations or members of the hospitality industry that do not utilize social media sites. Even destinations that do not have their own social media accounts can more than likely be found on social media because of travelers that have visited the location and shared it on social media sites. Social media will continue to grow in popularity and will therefore also continue to be a vital part of any destination marketing strategy.