Facebook is not a one-size-fits-all social media solution
Global companies are starting to use Snapchat to connect to their future customers
76% of Millennials incorporate Instagram into their travel decisions
If you're in the tourism industry and not properly branding your business on social media, you're handicapping yourself. Big time.
Whether you're providing lodging, setting up tours or putting on cultural events, you're all essentially in the same business: Providing a unique experience. The majority of businesses will have a website, run some online ads with tools like Google AdWords, and have a Facebook Page where information regarding the business is shared. That's all fine because it can lead people in search mode to click to your website, and because you're on Facebook, you're officially in the world of social and on the most populous network. So why do you need to do more?
Think about this. The reason that there are quick grab and go's and coffee shops like Starbucks and Doutor inside Shinjuku Station - the busiest transport hub in the world - but hardly any kissaten coffee shops, if any at all, may seem somewhat obvious, right? People are not in the mindset of spending hours over coffee while between trains there. That different mindsets at different places reason is why you should consider putting some social media effort onto another network as well rather than only on the mega-populated Facebook.
Remember: You're in the business of providing a unique experience, so display these experiences in a place that people actually want to see them.
You have an opportunity to show people - even those who weren't even considering you - the things that they can experience while on their travels through you. 78% of Millennials say they'd choose to spend money on an experience over an item that they want, so take advantage of that knowledge and connect with them in the space they're looking to connect on.
Consider Instagram, Snapchat, and live streaming platforms like Periscope, Facebook Live or YouTube Connect *.
Let's first start with live streaming. It's the most authentic since it allows for experiencing something live as it's happening, and these platforms mentioned demand full screen attention from users on mobile. If your business is already on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, broadcasting real travel experiences can raise the perception of your business from the increased value of your social channel. This does require someone to be able to film and respond to comments on the fly on behalf of your business, however. But with Facebook's live streaming broadcasts gaining 10 times the amount of comments as regular videos, and Periscope doubling the amount of broadcasts on it's app to 200 million in the past couple months alone, it's clear that this is the direction social is headed.
Snapchat. Businesses overseas are jumping onto Snapchat in droves these days, and Japan will surely follow suit eventually. Snapchat, which allows followers to see snapshots or short video clips taken in the last 24 hours, can also provide for sharing authentic experiences. The fact that people aren't quickly skimming through a timeline like they do on Twitter, and that users spend 25 to 30 minutes a day on the network makes it attractive. Hilton and Marriott, while not expecting customer conversions right now from it, both use Snapchat to show experiences at their hotels so that they're thought of in the future instead of only letting their competitors (such as Airbnb, which also uses Snapchat) connect with potential future guests. Since not many Japanese companies are on the network now and at least 100 million people overseas are, it'd give your business a big advantage at being able to show authentic Japanese travel experiences before the others catch on.
Instagram is the most obvious network to be on for travel at the moment, and likely has the lowest hurdle to overcome. Because it's a visual network of 400 million users, many are sharing their travel experiences there (more than 353 million pieces of travel-related content), and at the same time, are also looking for experiences from other users. These same people may not be in that mindset while on Facebook, going back to the different mindsets at different places reason. Advertising publication Adweek even called Instagram the "Modern-Day Travel Agent" since research has shown that 48% of Instagram users turn to the network to find a travel destination, 35% use it to find new places, and a whopping 76% of Millennials incorporate it into their travel decisions. Instagram also allows you to repost user-generated content from your guests, which are essentially recommendations that people find more than twice as trustworthy as banner ads. The cost to do this? Free.
Instagrammers can make lesser known travel destinations appeal to users who would've never searched for it otherwise.
Many travelers on Instagram make recommendations on destinations which can impact other users travel decisions.
The bottom line is: Facebook is not a one-size-fits-all social media solution, especially when it comes to the travel industry. If you're not showing the experiences your business offers on social media properly, tourists will probably choose your competitor who is.
* YouTube Connect has not yet been released at the time of publication.