How Effective is Social Media Marketing in the Travel Industry?
With its ability to increase brand awareness and engagement, social media marketing is a cost-effective way for travel companies to turn customer browsing into bookings. But it’s not as straightforward as setting up a few social channels and watching the followers flood in. Like any other sector, there are strategies, methods and tactics needed to make your efforts as powerful as possible.
With that in mind, we’ll break down social media marketing for travel companies in more detail, looking at the recent research we carried out in the cruise sector for some extra top-notch, top-deck insights.
The importance of social media marketing for travel companies isn’t exactly a secret. A proper social media strategy can bring about benefits for tourism businesses big and small, including:
- Boosting brand awareness
- Creating inspirational content for customers
- Increasing engagement
- Executing cost-effective marketing campaigns
- Helping with travel planning
- Simplifying the booking process
And that’s just to name a few. The power of social media can be leveraged in all sorts of other ace ways that brands use to boost their performance.
Our research in the cruise industry
So, what kind of spotlight did our recent research shine on social media marketing?
As well as key insights into things like organic and paid performance, the extensive doc investigates the social media data of both cruise agents and cruise lines to uncover key trends and approaches – and help anyone who’s reading this blog to get more out of their social media efforts.
We looked at our findings from the research we carried out from two lenses: platform usage and engagement.
Social media platform usage in the cruise industry
Our research showed Facebook to be the most popularly used social channel, with the platform netting the highest percentage of social traffic for most of the cruise brands we looked at.
As for the number of posts per month, we saw that 35 tended to be the standard – the highest across all channels.
When it came to the content of these posts themselves, the following were most popular:
- Posts asking users and followers to comment on and share photographs of their travels and holidays
- Photos of both crew and customers at sea and in port
- Inspirational promotional content about cruise destinations and ships
Social media engagement in the cruise industry
Usage is one thing, but engagement is something else entirely. And if your audience isn’t actively engaging with your social content, then it might be worth rethinking your approaches.
Of the brands and channels we looked at, the most noteworthy engagement stats that cropped up were as follows:
- Overall, Instagram had the highest engagement with 1,447 average likes and 119 average comments each month, respectively
- Carnival Cruises’ Facebook had the highest engagement metrics across the sector, with an average of 661 likes and over 1k comments per post
- The cruise brands with the lowest Facebook engagement had an average of 1 like and 0 comments per post – but an average post frequency per month of 19, 55 and 66 respectively
- Twitter scored poorly for engagement across every brand we looked at, with the majority of brands receiving very little in the way of likes and comments
- Cruise 118 had the highest YouTube engagement, with an average of 1,560 likes and 61 comments every month
Want to learn more about the social media insights we discovered, as well as key info on organic/paid traffic and cruise demographics? You can find it all in our Unlocking the Secrets to Cruise Marketing Success research paper.
In 2024, social media’s place in the travel industry is clear. Along with our own research, you don’t have to scour the web for very long before you land on articles and studies that touch on the impact it’s made on the sector. A CNBC article from 2022 for instance, detailed a new study that found that one in three travellers used social media in some way to influence their next destination.
Let’s lift the lid further. What makes social media marketing such a worthwhile effort for cruise companies?
Well for one, it’s changed the way some people research and book their travels. Inspiration in the form of Instagram and Facebook posts is never far away, providing potential travellers with visually enticing imagery designed to get the travel bug going.
If a brand chooses to highlight a particular cruise ship, for instance, then someone might opt to plan their activities and excursions around the fact they’re available on that very same ship. What’s more, they can do so through the pages linked from social posts, without the need to switch devices at all.
Elsewhere, user-generated content and customer reviews have massive sway, too. The positive (and negative) word-of-mouth from previous customers holds unique, unvarnished insights into holidays and companies as a whole, giving potential travellers a glimpse into what they can expect before they book themselves.
The same goes for user-generated content in the form of photos and comments on social channels. Both of these provide a first-hand look into the real-life experiences of other holidaymakers. And if your audience likes what they see, it helps to make their decision a much easier one.
As for its ability to build brand awareness (and bookings), social media marketing is a highly potent tool to have in your mix. Well-thought-out, crafted and executed social posts have the potential to reach a wider audience, position yourself as an authority within the industry and carve out a niche that others will notice.
Plus, you can use your social efforts to reach customers at whatever stage of the booking process they’re at, whether they’re looking for inspiration at the planning stage or you’re guiding them to your website once they’ve decided it’s time to book.
Of course, there are plenty of best practices that can help make sure your social activity is as effective as possible. Hoping for the best won’t cut it, especially when there are so many brands you can learn from who are getting it right. We’ve gathered some effective best practices for you to keep in mind to help with your social media marketing’s performance.
- Remember earlier when we said Twitter routinely got the least engagement? Not every social media channel is created equal – so, go for the platforms that sync up with your goals and target audience
- Choose quality over quantity. If the content doesn’t speak to your audience, then it’s unlikely to engage or attract, no matter how often you post
- Tailor your content to the likes and needs of your audience instead, and keep your content fresh with a mix of polls, product imagery and videos that’ll get the good feelings going
- When it’s relevant, add a call to action to your posts that’ll get your audience to act in the form of comments, likes and shares
- Whenever your followers respond, be sure to follow up. Show your appreciation for positive comments, and see how you can resolve any problems they might be having too. Your responses speak volumes to others, so it’s well worth it
- Of course, you’ll want to develop a social media strategy too. A proper social strategy will outline everything from campaign ideas, business goals, demographic info, messaging and approaches
To help you with that last point, let’s give you a head start. Fill in your details below to download our in-depth social media strategy template before you set sail with your channel activity.
Still finding the social side of your marketing a struggle? Our team of creatives and social experts will shape a strategy that’ll get your name out there and engage your audience. Head to the homepage or give us a call on 0345 459 0558 today for more info.