Think of your social media effort as a business within a business. As you would with a start-up business or a major internal initiative, write up a project charter and business plan for your social media program. This is especially important because 1) Social is still a new medium whose goals and measurements won’t be understood and shared across the enterprise unless you document them in writing, and 2) The fast pace of change, and frequent emergence of new platforms and tactics means you must define your priorities—and stay disciplined in pursuit of those priorities.
Ends of the Earth Tours is one of the oldest adventure travel companies in America, and we enjoy a 95% approval rating from our travelers. However, we have been slow to venture into social media, and today we find that many of our competitors have higher profiles than we do on major social networks. They appear to be attracting prospective travelers, as well as engaging with existing travelers and generating repeat business.
Adventure travel and tourism is an $89 billion dollar business. Over 36 million Americans booked vacation travel in 2012, and an estimated 6.3 million purchased a group tour or other organized vacation package. Studies find the internet plays an increasing role in researching and booking vacation travel. In 2011, 76% of travelers reported researching their vacations online. 37% booked tours or accommodations online.
It is urgent we ramp up our own efforts so as to not cede visibility to rival companies. At the same time, we see that some of the biggest names in our industry have rather small and anemic online programs—which represents a major opportunity for us to leapfrog the competition.
We will leverage free or low-cost promotion by mentioning our online communities—and specific sweepstakes or other campaigns—on the footer and homepage of our website, in booking confirmation emails, in our print ads, print catalog, and press releases. We will attract attention through four large sweepstakes a year, where we give away a grand prize of a free trip for two to one of our more popular, trendy, or otherwise timely destinations.