Here at RDO digital we have stressed the importance of social media for the present and future success of your brand before. What is vital for your organisation to note is  that social media is now more important than ever. Unlike what many believed in the past, it has not merely been a passing fad but is becoming increasingly intrinsic to our daily lives. Having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media channel such as Snapchat has become as normal as having an email address, website or phone number. Without this your company looks severely behind the times and is also missing a huge opportunity to reach new clients.

While it is true that social media usage is higher among younger people, it has grown phenomenally among older generations too which again proves it is not just a passing fad but an important part of people’s lives regardless of age. This is also true in terms of gender, race, geographic location or cultural background. With social media, your brand truly has the power to reach the world.

This is perfect for businesses within the travel and tourism industry such as hotels and resorts because by using social media you can reach a far wider audience than before. The simple fact is that the world is becoming increasingly interconnected through the internet and more and more people are using social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and consuming content on sites like YouTube.

The Power of Viral Content for Your Company:

There are countless examples of posts on social media that have gone viral which truly demonstrate the incredible power of social media to cross demographic and geographic boundaries and unite both ‘normal people’ and celebrities. Often the positive exposure for brands can be phenomenal, greatly raising awareness among the public and planting the idea of a company in their minds.

A current famous example of this involves a tweet from a teenager in the US named Carter Wilkerson who jokingly asked the American fast food company Wendy’s how many retweets he would need for a year of free chicken nuggets. They replied with the astronomical number of 18 million. Instead of seeing this as an insurmountable barrier he accepted the challenge. Within a week of asking for the internet’s help he has received 2.8 Million Retweets and is set to gain the most Retweets ever on Twitter if he manages to overcome Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar Tweet!

While some may see this as how silly social media is, in fact it shows how much it can unite people. Brands, celebrities and the ordinary public all love this story and want to see Carter win this challenge. Even if he doesn’t gain 18 million retweets he has already become a local and national sensation and is increasingly gaining worldwide fame.

Brands should definitely take note, because this has created massive and unexpected exposure and advertising for Wendy’s all from a single humourous tweet. This advertising has cost them nothing but has everyone talking about their brand on Twitter and across online news. Wendy’s has played their cards brilliantly by continuing to engage with all the Tweets and Retweets keeping the exposure up. They have also kept this exposure highly positive with humourous replies and even committed to donate $100,000 dollars to charity when Ellen’s record is broken!

While this has been an exceptional tweet and news story, it also shows the massive power of social media. While your brand may not be involved in a tweet with the potential to reach 18 million retweets, it can certainly get involved with this kind of viral marketing. Engage with your fans, make your posts interesting, useful and funny and don’t simply broadcast your product. Get involved with this global conversation that is already happening with or without your involvement!

Create Meaningful Relationships Leading to Potential Sales:

By integrating social media into the core of your business and not just viewing it as some hasty add on you can create lasting and meaningful relationships with your present and potential future customers. In today’s world, brand loyalty is by no means guaranteed as there is so much choice available to consumers. This is why social media is so important because it allows you to engage and listen to people like never before.

Unlike other forms of advertising like TV, radio and print, social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram create a platform for conversation. There are also a variety of tools available such as Hootsuite that allow brands to see where they are being talked about on these platforms in order to reach out to people. A great example of a travel company that is utilizing the power of social media to it’s significant advantage has been G-Adventures.

The company has put social media at the forefront of its marketing strategy since the beginning of the brand and now has a presence on all major platforms. Time is devoted to all of them in order to build a significant and engaged following. Through these channels and social listening tools, G Adventures has been able to tap into both what its customers have been saying and also reach out to potential new customers to discuss their travel preferences and desires.

“Social media is a huge part of G Adventures’ culture — both internal and external. From us interacting with travellers before, during and after tours on our social media channels to all of the G Adventures staff chatting with each other on Twitter, we’re truly a social enterprise – and all a part of G Nation. Fittingly, we offer an integrated suite of social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and the G Adventures Looptail blog). While these channels provide an opportunity to communicate to people who already subscribe to our brand, they also serve as a window to the world to inspire those who have never considered travelling, who cannot presently afford to travel, or who are too young to travel — but one day might. Hootsuite provides a platform for us to have this discussion with our followers in a way that keeps us nimble and allows us expediency of response.” – G Adventure

Do not Underestimate how Important Social Media is for Millennials Travelling

With the increasing availability of the internet wherever people travel to, and the rise of smartphone use, the ability of individuals to access social media wherever they go is growing rapidly. While older generations are increasingly using social media channels, it is still younger generations such as Millennials (18 – 33 year-olds), who use social media the most, so it is very important to understand how to market to them online. They read magazines, watch TV and listen to the radio less, but they are accessing online content more. This trend is set to continue and increase.

Millennials and the next generation will increasingly rely on social media to choose where they want to holiday next based on photos and videos they see posted on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other channels. What may (or maybe not) also surprise marketers is that according to a recent survey of Millennials, ‘Instagrammability’ has become the most important factor in determining where they want to travel to next!

For those in the travel and tourism business this can be great news, because if they can highlight how amazing their destination and hotel/resort is online then Millennials are more likely to want to travel there. On top of this once people are at their resort they will snap photos and post them on social media which acts as excellent free advertising. Your marketing team can then engage with these posts, share them and create a conversation.

There are many other factors that show how the massive importance of social media for your brand is growing year by year and how it is now more important than ever! It would be great to hear your thoughts on this topic and hear what you have noticed about current social media trends. Use the hashtag #RDOdigital to get involved with the conversation online and please share this article if you enjoyed it.