International Tour Management Institute (ITMI)

The Premier Training Institute for Tour & Travel Professionals Since 1976

6 Social Media Platforms Tour Guides and Tour Directors Must Consider

ITMIComment

The question is not whether you use social media as a tour director or tour guide (hint: you should). The question is to which platforms you should devote your precious time.

When it comes to social media and travel, a lackluster effort is worse than no effort at all. Passionate travelers who use social every day to get and offer ideas can be put off by travel brands and professionals who create accounts with no intention of maintaining them.

If you're going to do it, you must do it right. The first step is evaluating existing social platforms and identifying the ones that can help enhance your relationships and grow your business.

There is no single magic formula. Your unique customer demographic should have the biggest impact on the social media you leverage and how. That said, there are several platforms that deserve at least a look. Here are six of them, plus a bonus. 

Facebook - 1.19B monthly active users (MAUs): This isn't really an option. With such a massive and engaged user base, you can't afford not to maintain a strong Facebook page. That said, it's trickier for businesses than in the past. Be prepared to invest in Facebook advertising if your brand is young and relatively unknown. Otherwise, few people are going to see your content, regardless of how great it is. What makes good content? Think images, questions, and other conversation starters.  

Twitter - 320M MAUs: Twitter is tough. As with all platforms, frequency is key, but arguably more so here than any other. Tweet too much and you're a spammer. Tweet too little and you're a lurker. What's a good daily average?  That depends on yoru audience. Tip: Start with three or four times per day and increase as necessary. Also, don't get too wrapped up in follower counts. A hundred engaged followers are much more valuable than 1,000 spam bots.

Instagram - 400M MAUs: This is a borderline no-brainer. What makes Instagram so powerful is its avid user base and its insatiable appetite for stunning imagery. With so many filters effects available, amazing experiences can easily become inviting dreamscapes. Just don't go too crazy on the filters. Often natural beauty tells the best story of all. Tease your audience. Give them a taste of what they'll see on your tour.

Pinterest - 100M MAUs: Much like Instagram, Pinterest relies on beautiful images to grab users' attention. What's most remarkably different is your ability to create intriguing themes. For example, if you know that tons of your customers are into remote hiking locations, you can make a board dedicated entirely to that subject invite them to share their own memorable locales. This is a true sharing community. 

LinkedIn - 100M MAUs: Here's another definite. LinkedIn is unlike any other platform on this list. Its primary strength is building professional relationships - not wowing with pretty pictures or pitching dream vacations. Here you can support friends and acquaintances and grab the attention of potential clients and partners. Be especially selective of the content you create. In a way, it's like an enhanced business card. Many see it as representative of your priorities and philosophies.

YouTube - 1B MAUs: Despite its gigantic user base, this isn't for everybody. Videos for videos' sake are of little benefit to you, potential partners, or customers. You don't have to create masterpieces, but you do have to create content that effectively solves problems or answers questions for it to be effective. A highlight reel of a trip, no matter how beautiful it is, is not as enticing as a video that shows viewers how they can best enjoy a place. In other words, show, don't tell.

(Honorable Mention) Snapchat - 200M MAUs: A darling among the social media community for the past few years, Snapchat has untapped potential in the travel industry. Many brands overlook it due to its fleeting nature. Photo and video posts, referred to as snaps, disappear after one to 10 seconds. However, that doesn't make Snapchat a waste of time for travel pros looking to leave a lasting impression. Millennials love its functionality and ephemeral nature. Get on this to get into their heads.