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From re-tweeting and re-gramming photos to harnessing the power of real-time customer engagement, it has never been so important for travel brands to make the most of user-generated content.
Sharing content on social media networks has been the number one online activity for almost a decade, ever since it stormed ahead of adult content use in 2008. Not only is user-generated content proving likely to engage users twice as often as brand-made media, it’s also a fast and cost-effective way to keep your social feeds fresh and build trust with your audience.
With 82% of consumers saying they trust travel brands more if they are involved in social media, it’s time to dive in and get interactive with user-generated social content.
90% of internet users base decisions on online content.
Whether someone is shopping for a hatchback or a holiday, a new blender or a pair of a shoes, a recent survey has shown that 90% of internet users will look to online content to help them make decisions on how to spend their money. Two thirds of people trust the opinions of other consumers online – as well as editorial content – while less than half trust regular advertising that they see on social media.
Posting regular, relevant, interesting content is always important – but if you can utilise user-generated content, there’s a good chance that consumers will trust it above and beyond adverts you’re producing yourself. With 76% of travellers now sharing their experiences on social media, it’s easier than ever to share trusted content with your target market.
Photos and videos drive engagement
It’s a fact of marketing life that incorporating video marketing and product photography into your strategy will get you better results than neglecting to do so. Content that contains relevant images gets up to 94% more views than that which doesn’t – and tweets that contain images get 150% more retweets than those without.
For travel brands in need of up-to-date, appealing imagery, Twitter and Instagram can be a real lifesaver – especially if you consider the cost of generating your own, custom travel content. Users share photos and videos of your products and their experiences in real time, enabling you to share fresh, genuine content that people will feel is an accurate representation of what you’re offering.
With evidence suggesting that users are up to three times more likely to engage with user-generated video on Twitter than any other kind, it’s also safe to also suggest that a travel brand that regularly shares UGC will get higher engagement than one that doesn’t.
Whether someone is booking a package holiday or a round-the-world backpacking trip, encourage them to hashtag your brand on Twitter and Instagram when they share their experiences. Successful campaigns by STA Travel, Expedia and Real Gap have seen users uploading vast amounts of usable content in the hope of winning a prize or simply seeing their photo featured in a blog post. Not only does this mean an abundance of free images and videos for the brands to use, it also means a whole load of social media accounts that are pushing that brand to friends and followers.
The importance of interacting
Whether it’s a question, a complaint or a compliment, people are getting more and more used to instant communication. People expect to be responded to, and they expect it to happen quickly. A third of people who’ve used Twitter to contact customer services recently were contacting travel brands – and 71% of all users expect to get a reply to a query within the hour.
Travellers review as they travel, and it’s these reviews that are so important to other people looking to spend money. Retweet positive tweets, reply quickly to queries and you’ll build a positive image on social media.
It’s not all about images and sharing the best feedback – don’t be afraid to get user-generated editorial content too. With WordPress alone now hosting over 76 million blogs, chances are you won’t struggle to find a few blogging customers who are happy to promote themselves by writing a post for you. Encourage people to write about their experiences and feature the best content on your blog – you might say that a particular trip is great, but like anything, potential customers are more likely to believe what’s said when another consumer is the one telling them.
Here are some tips for leveraging User Generated Content in travel
Come up with a short, catchy hashtag that relates to your brand. Feature it in social bios, in brochures and on in-store posters –but don’t expect users to share a simple brand name. Users want to feel involved, not like they’re advertising. See Bamboo Project’s #doyoubamboo and Real Gap’s #myrealexperience.
Encourage people to share content using this hashtag by offering discounts, rewards, or simply the chance to be featured on your site.
Regularly retweet and regram photos and videos on social.
Seek user-generated blog content and publish frequently.
Interact as quickly and as often as possible with social users.