Travel marketing: 10 questions to ask yourself before writing your social media strategy.

October 24, 2011

Having trouble writing your social media plan?  Start by answering 10 simple questions:

  1. What audience do I want to communicate with?
  2. What is the compelling story of my brand that I want to share with them?
  3. What type of social content will I provide? (Conversational, Informational, Helpful, Promotional, Listening, Aggregate)
  4. Who will manage my social media marketing?
  5. How will the social workload be shared within my organization?
  6. Does my entire staff, including senior management, understand and use social media?
  7. Am I personally using or experimenting with any social channels?
  8. Have I developed a social media policy?
  9. How much effort am I planning on putting into my social media campaign? (Listen, Maintain, Engage)
  10. What goals or metrics am I considering to measure the effectiveness of my social media campaign?

Now that you’ve gotten the building blocks, use these  5 resources to help you write your social media strategy:

  1. How to write a social media proposal
  2. How to create a social media strategy
  3. How to write your social media plan in 8 steps
  4. How much should a social media strategy cost
  5. How to write a social media policy

Looking for more answers to your social media questions?  Check out our 10-part Social Media Safari Series:

  1. Does social media really work for marketing leisure brands?
  2. How much should I budget for social media?
  3. 10 social media campaigns that produced real results.
  4. 2 social media success stories utilizing limited budgets.
  5. What Coca Cola, Starbucks and Oreo can teach you about leisure marketing on Facebook.
  6. The Top 10 social media thought leaders.
  7. 11 ways businesses are using Twitter to promote their brands.
  8. If Twitter can save Conan, it can certainly revive your leisure brand.
  9. 15 valuable resources for social media novices.
  10. 20 ways to make sure your leisure marketing campaign goes viral.

Travel and leisure marketing: 20 tips for overcoming your fear of blogging.

August 19, 2011

Starting a blog doesn't have to be complicated or scary.

If you suffer from blogophobia, here are 20 tips to get your travel or leisure brand’s blog up and running quickly.

Blogs are the launching point for the social media strategies of many travel & leisure brands. But the idea of starting a blog scares off many marketing pros.

Michael Gass, one of the leading experts on business blogging, gave me these 20 tips when I started the 5 to 9 Branding blog.

  1. Have a clear objective: Are you trying to attract new customers to your e-commerce site? Build a following for a new product? Build a database of customer email addresses? Spell it out.
  2. Identify your target audience:The better you can define and narrow your audience, the more successful your blog will be. My target is U.S. travel and leisure marketing pros.
  3. Compose a descriptor statement: A subtitle that states emphatically what your blog is about (i.e. Your expert guide to finding local deals on designer fashions). The more specific the better.
  4. Create a unique title for your blog:It’s helpful if you can tie in the title with a URL that you own. says make it: Readable, Pronounceable, Memorable, Unique and Concise.
  5. Buy the URL associated with your blog title: Instead of having a, or URL. That way if you move your site, you get to keep your audience.
  6. Identify the key words that you want to dominate in Google Search: Consistently include your key words in your post titles, and in the copy of your post.
  7. Develop 10 categories that you will write to: These will help guide your writing and will facilitate navigation of your blog’s content for your readers.
  8. Start with a simple blogging platform that you can easily switch from in the future. Michael Gass suggests, which I use.
  9. Keep your IT  and creative departments out of the picture in the beginning: That way you’ll keep the process simple and focus on writing your blog’s content.
  10. Set a goal for writing 50 posts within 30 days: This will help you to develop your research, resourcing, writing and publishing skills. The discipline of writing the first 50 will help you later.
  11. Make your blog easy to navigate: Use Top Posts, Categories, etc. Install a search widget that is included in your blog’s sidebar and located above the fold.
  12. Create a “Welcome” section: Include a photo to make it more personable. The “welcome” copy should be an expansion of your blog’s descriptor statement.
  13. Add these pages: About, Services, Speaking, Contact.
  14. Add social media buttons: For your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
  15. Add an RSS subscription button: And create aFeedburner account through Google to get your link.
  16. Add a subscription button for an email newsletter: Directly link it to an email provider account such as Vertical Response, Emma, Constant Contact, etc.
  17. Jump start traffic by sending out an email newsletter: Do it at least monthly, preferably every other week. Use content you created from the blog in your email newsletter.
  18. Generate initial traffic: Through Twitter using automated tools like Social Oomph and TweetAdder.
  19. Incorporate your key words into every blog post title: It will help your search rankings.
  20. Incorporate the following writing style in every post to get you in the habit of good blog writing:
  • Use the inverted pyramid style of writing, like a newspaper report would use, and lead with the conclusion.
  • Utilize a Readers Digest style of writing with bullet points,  short paragraphs, and an average of 350 to 450 words.
  • For the best return on your time investment, write posts that are timeless so if someone looks through your archives a year from now the post is still relevant.
  • Consistently create content that is “reader-centric,” and would be valued by your target audience.
  • Create hyperlinks to online resources and attributions to primary sources.
  • Select one or more categories that are reflective of the blog’s content.
  • Add tags for people, places, entities that are referenced in your post.
  • Include “additional articles that may be of interest” at the bottom of the post with titles and links to 4 to 5 other post that you’ve written.
  • Include a photo or graphic in every post to make it visually pleasing.

I know these tips work. Because I’ve followed every one of them. Want more help starting your blog?  Visit Problogger or Copyblogger, the two best resources on the internet for novice bloggers. Or feel free to contact me with your specific questions.

Leisure marketing: 10 valuable resources for social media novices.

November 12, 2010

10 timely articles to help you plan a new social media program.

The Social Media Safari Question #7:

“My staff and I are starting a social media program from scratch. Can you direct me to some previous posts you have written that would help guide us?”

Gladly.  Here are 10 relevant posts to help leisure marketing specialists like yourself get up to speed on social media.

They’ll show you how to plan your social strategy, point you to some of the leading gurus, discuss budgeting and measurement, and outline some of the best social media success stories.

  1. 10 leading experts help you plan and execute your social media campaign
  2. What leisure marketers can learn from history’s greatest social media screw ups
  3. 20 tips for overcoming your fear of blogging
  4. Leisure marketing to the 57 million Americans who have tried social gaming
  5. 5 ways your leisure marketing could incorporate location-based services
  6. 33 simple ways to measure your social media campaigns
  7. Advanced social media tools for listening to your customers
  8. The most powerful online leisure marketing machine is not a machine at all. It’s Lady Gaga.
  9. The Star(bucks) of leisure marketing is also the (Star)bucks of social media
  10. Leisure marketing at its viral best: Hi-Tec Sports

Looking for more answers to your social media questions?  Check out these other posts in our 10-part Social Media Safari Series:

  1. Does social media really work for marketing leisure brands?
  2. How much should I budget for social media?
  3. 10 social media campaigns that produced real results.
  4. 2 social media success stories utilizing limited budgets.
  5. What Coca Cola, Starbucks and Oreo can teach you about leisure marketing on Facebook.
  6. The Top 10 social media thought leaders.
  7. 11 ways businesses are using Twitter to promote their brands.
  8. If Twitter can save Conan, it can certainly revive your leisure brand.
  9. 15 valuable resources for social media novices.
  10. 20 ways to make sure your leisure marketing campaign goes viral.

Travel marketing: 10 leading experts help you plan your social media strategy.

September 20, 2010
puzzle pieces spell out "blog"

Putting together a social strategy can be complicated. Here are 10 resources from some of the leading experts in the field.

Is it time to kickstart or revamp your social strategy?  Here’s some advice from 10 leading experts in webinar, e-Book, Powerpoint and Blog Post formats.

1. How to Demonstrate the Value of Social Media to Your Boss.

If you’re still selling in the concept of social media to the higher-ups in your organization, Hubspot and social media mega guru Chris Brogan put this webinar together just for you.

2. The Difference Between Strategy and Tactics and Why It Matters.

B.L. Ochman is Managing Director of Emerging Media for Proof and a contributor to Ad Age, Next and Mashable. She gives a very simple example of a great online strategy and suggestions for how to make your social strategy great.

3. A Few Things You Need to Know Before You Develop Your Social Strategy.

Before you get started with social media, this article by B.L. Ochman gives you some simple, but sound advice to set your company up for success.

3. The Seven Critical Elements To Include In Your Social Media Strategy.

Jay Baer, author of the popular Convince and Convert social media blog and frequent speaker at social media events, offers up these strategy building blocks, which are followed by clients across the country.  Jay also has developed a simple social media strategy worksheet that many clients have found helpful.

4. The Key to Developing a Better Social Media Strategy.

Jason Falls, author of the Social Media Explorer blog, argues that it is vital that you develop what he calls “parameters” of conversation.

6. How NGOs can excel at Social Media.

Beth Kanter specializes in teaching non-profits how to use social media, but her principles work for any organization. I especially like her “crawl, walk, run and fly” approach to building your social media capabilities incrementally.

7. How to Implement Your Social Media Strategy.

Sharlyn Lauby, the president of HR firm Internal Talent Management, argues forcefully for moving past a social policy to developing a plan for actually implementing your social strategy.

8. Five Reasons Your Social Media Strategy isn’t Really A Strategy.

Neil Shaffer, president of Windmills Marketing, reminds you that social media is a commitment, not a campaign,  and you have to decide as much what not to do as what to do.

9. How to Do A Social Media Strategy Map.

Vanessa DiMauro, CEO of Leader Networks, has created a strategy map for Balanced Scorecard practitioners, and others who need a framework to sell up to the C level executives in their organization, and impress their process-oriented colleagues.

10. An E-Book Primer to Going Social.

Gretel Going and Kate Fleming, the partners at Channel V Media, have put together an excellent e-book primer for social media novices.

Those are some of my favorite resources for developing social strategy.  If you’re the marketer of a travel or attraction brand, what are some of yours?

Travel and leisure marketing pros ask: How much should I spend on social media?

September 16, 2010

A 2010 study found that companies were planning to more than double their spending on social media in just 18 months.

American companies are planning to double their social media expenditures this year. And triple them in the next five years.

Want to know what everyone else is spending on social media?  So did the American Marketing Association.

It’s one of the most frequent questions I get from marketers of travel and leisure brands who want to shift some of their marketing dollars to social media.

Early this year, the American Marketing Association commissioned Duke University to ask CMOs across the country what they planned to spend this year.

Here’s what they found.

Last year at this time, the companies interviewed for this study were spending an average of 3.5% of their marketing budgets on social media efforts.

Only six months later, they were spending 5.6% of their budgets.

And by the end of this year, they expect to spend 9.9%.

That’s almost triple what companies were spending just a year ago. And the study predicts that percentage will increase to almost 18% in the next five years.

So what should you spend?

If you’re just starting out, the first question isn’t, “How much should I spend?” It’s “What’s my strategy.” In May 2010, a study commissioned by Digital Brand Expressions found that 52% of social marketers they interviewed did not have a social media strategy.

If you’re not sure how to get started developing your strategy, check out this post I wrote recently on the subject.

The second question to ask is “How do I pay for my new social media strategy?”

Some clients are building their social budgets by reducing budgets for legacy marketing efforts with declining results, including yellow pages advertising, direct marketing and collateral.

Let’s keep the conversation going. If you’re the marketer of a travel or leisure brand, how  are you determining your social media budgets? Where are you finding the money to implement your social media strategy?

Travel marketing: 10 questions to ask before you create your social media campaign.

August 19, 2010

Before you jump on the social media bandwagon, make sure you ask these 10 questions.

Awhile back, Sean Carton, Chief Strategy Officer for Philadelphia interactive design firm idfive , posted an excellent checklist of questions to ask before developing a social media strategy.   Here are the highlights:

1.  What are we trying to accomplish?

Your first step in developing a social media strategy is to get clear on what you want your outcomes to be. Is it more sales, conversions, brand engagement, or awareness?

2. Why are we using social media?

Is it to build stronger relationships with your customers? Create buzz? Become a thought leader? Before jumping on the social media bandwagon,make sure it’s going where you need to go.

3. What kind of social media will help us best achieve our goals?

Do you need to utilize social networking sites, blogs, real-time updates (e.g., Twitter), social news sites, media-sharing sites, review/directory sites, virtual worlds, or display ads on social media sites?

4. Are we prepared to let go of control of our brand?

You can’t participate in social media without engaging in a conversation with customers. Which requires you to give up control. Is your company willing to do that?

5. What will we do to encourage participation?

Make sure you have a plan to drive people to your social media site or viral video. And the time, money and expertise to execute that plan.  Otherwise, you’ll be disappointed.


6. Who will maintain our social media presence?

Participating in social media takes a lot of work. It won’t happen unless it becomes part of someone’s job. Do you have someone ready to commit a big chunk of time to maintaining your social media presence?

7. Do we have the resources to keep this up, or will this be a short campaign?

If you’re investing in a long-term social strategy, make sure you budget resources to continue your social media presence beyond the current fiscal year.

8. How does engaging users through social media integrate into our overall marketing/communications strategy?

Social media works best if you fit it into what you’re trying to do in all your other channels, and visa versa.

9. How do we measure success? And failure?

Are you measuring views, followers, comments, or subscribers? What happens if you don’t get there?

10.  What are we cutting back on to do social media?

If you spend more money on social media and other nontraditional forms of marketing, you have to spend less on something else. Figure that out before you start, or you could have an expensive mistake to explain.

Thanks to Sean for another insightful post.

%d bloggers like this: