Research into how several leading travel brands are embracing social media has found none have jumped on some of the latest trends in the space.
Brighton-based digital agency SiteVisibility looked at the social media profiles of four online giants: Skyscanner, Kayak, Expedia and Lastminute.com.
While strong Facebook and Twitter profiles proliferated, the study found none were currently using other, arguably more impactful platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter Vine.
Jason Woodford, chief executive at SiteVisibility, said: “One thing that stood out is how few of these brands are taking advantage of all the latest digital marketing tools.
“If an organisation in the travel and tourism industry is serious about using social media and getting past simple small talk on Facebook and Twitter, then they need to develop a strategy designed specifically to target their ideal client profile.
“Once they decide on who the audience is, they can design content that gets them talking to you and, more importantly, about their services.”
Sitevisibility’s social media assessment:
Skyscanner, which has 110,554 Facebook fans and 66,976 Twitter followers, makes great use of its imagery and stands out thanks to the extraordinary photos they regularly post, which are perfectly shot to gain the attention and imagination of their audience.
Skyscanner makes great efforts to communicate closely with followers, answering personally to questions on Facebook, or simply asking an open question for consumer feedback.
Despite a lack of hashtag usage, Skyscanner’s main focus is attracting its target audience through the vivid imagery of various destination hotspots.
When it comes to Twitter, there’s certainly lots of blog content highlighting the latest in travel news as well as useful travel tips.
Kayak curiously has the smallest Facebook audience of the brands selected with 84,396 fans, and yet has the biggest Twitter fan base with 373,260 followers.
Kayak likes to use ‘Promoted Tweets’ – Twitter’s paid advertising service – allowing them to get brand messaging into as many profile feeds as possible.
One of the main reasons for its Twitter success is the fact Kayak has a great team behind the scenes taking care of customer service, responding to all queries about bookings within an instant. On Facebook, despite not having a huge following, they are utilising the platform’s latest features such as hashtags as well as highlighting its relationships with travel photographers and partners.
Expedia notably possesses the largest Facebook fan base with 1,829,923 fans but surprisingly a lower Twitter audience than Kayak with 153,866 followers.
Ultimately these brands wish to gain as many sales as possible from their social media strategies.
With that in mind Expedia are really the main brand which drive consumers to make decisions. Calls to action are present through the majority of its Facebook messaging, applying discount incentives to dates that customers should book their flights and hotels by.
Expedia also make use of ‘Promoted Tweets’, allowing them to deliver messaging to an expansive audience. However, Expedia uses this tool differently to showcase its latest project ‘#ExpediaViewFinder‘.
Lastminute.com’s profile has the second-largest Facebook fan base from the four brands with 153,509 fans, and surprisingly has the smallest Twitter following: 31,762.
Unlike Expedia, the social buttons don’t feature prominently enough on Lastminute’s homepage – they’re tucked away at the foot of the page.
They seem to promote very little blog content and there’s certainly a lack of intuitive hashtags to engage followers.
Lastminute don’t currently use ‘Promoted Tweets’ which again may explain their low fan base. However, on Facebook they certainly provide some great visuals to entice their followers.
Woodford added: “Social media is a way to transmit and share information with a broad audience.
“Everyone has the opportunity to create and distribute. On the other hand, social networking is an act of engagement with groups of people with common interests on social networking sites that build relationships through community.
“This research gives a unique glimpse into the social behaviour of some the leading players in the travel and tourism industry; one that we know very well at SiteVisibility through our work with the likes of Hotels.com; Cheapflights.co.uk and Expedia.”