Content Marketing, Social Media, and Travel
July 14, 2014
by Todd Wilson
As a former editor and content strategist way back when the internet was still shiny and new, I’m absolutely thrilled by the renewed focus on content marketing today. Back in the late '90s, those of us who specialized in content often found ourselves repeatedly trying (and often failing) to describe to marketing and IT clients – especially the IT clients – what exactly our jobs entailed. And as data continued to expand in importance, the content specialists were either marginalized (our former group was cut down to a skeleton crew) or forced to adapt to new roles (I ended up spending eight years in agency client services – go figure).
Today, great content marketers are in high demand and short supply – and one channel that increasingly demands their attention and smart content strategy is social media. The explosion of social outlets is well known and well documented, as is social’s fall from grace among some marketers because of its relative lack of direct ROI (compared to Email, for example). Coupled with the dramatic drop in organic reach for brands on Facebook – the 800-pound gorilla in social – the entire channel has lost a bit of its luster among some marketers.
Social has undeniable and unique strengths, however, when it comes to content marketing. Some Travel brands in particular have found a way to create a social experience using smart content that people want to see and follow. The Instagram strategies of brands like Four Seasons, Kimpton, and Airbnb, for example, not only showcase their accommodations, but the lifestyles their customers expect (and/or aspire to). A room photo isn’t simply a room photo – it’s accompanied by references to Dostoyevsky and the Bolshoi (for Four Seasons’ new Moscow hotel), or “regrams” with commentary from guests who’ve recently stayed at a destination or photos of staff members celebrating Pride events (several Kimpton examples).
Smart content strategy is helping these brands stand out in Instagram (and elsewhere in social – smart hoteliers are also using Pinterest to great effect as well). What specifically sets them apart?
- They understand their audiences – educated and affluent for Four Seasons, community and LGBT-friendly for Kimpton, young and adventurous for Airbnb (judging from Instagram alone, Airbnb includes a lot of tree houses!).
- They understand where their audiences like to consume content, as well as the kind (and the tone) of the content they like to consume. For Kimpton and Airbnb, it often includes content from other customers.
- They understand that travelers (and consumers in general) are far more likely to follow brands that help them define themselves as individuals – or at least how they want themselves to be defined.
- They understand that content marketing should live in every channel. Consumers are channel-fickle – they expect your content to be consistent whenever they find it, yet adapted to the unique elements of each channel. Airbnb is especially adept at this.
Good content marketing reflects the character of your brand – and social is an increasingly essential centerpiece for Travel companies who make content marketing a priority. Creating and curating content that doesn’t explicitly “sell” is not always easy to prioritize in marketing plans, but working together with direct marketing, it can make your marketing strategy more effective – through greater customer lifetime value, greater loyalty, and increased “long-tail” sales (from those who may not purchase right away but still follow the brand).
"Content Marketing, Social Media, and Travel." MediaPost, 07/14/14.
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