The Travel Industry is being warned not to underestimate the power of Social Media in its marketing strategy.
Social networking experts claim that too many industry workers are focusing too hard on the ROI (return on investment) that they expect from social media, however they should be looking beyond this.
Charlie Osmond of social media agency FreshNetworks commented at a recent seminar for ABTA members, that to focus entirely on how much you could earn back from investing in social media would mean you were missing the point.
He went on to say, “ROI focus drives the wrong behaviour, you should be looking at social media as a way to engage customers, get feedback from them and improve your product.”
Head of UK and Ireland sales at British Airways, Richard Tams, realised quickly that not getting involved in social media was simply not an option. At BA they could see past the investment costs and forward to the rewards it could bring, Tams said that they recognised that social media will only grow in the future, and the opportunities and benefits would also grow with it.
Tams reported that BA has fully researched the issue and revealed that if social networking were a country, it would be the third largest in the world and it has overtaken porn as the number one activity on the internet.
“There are 200 million blogs out there,” he enthused, despite admitting to being a social media novice himself, “we needed to get our brand involved in this and since then there has been a fundamental shift in the way we talk to our customers.”
Tams concluded that social media has also allowed BA to receive instant customer feedback and have one-to-one conversations with them, which can only be encouraging for positive customer service. It has also allowed the BA brand to be promoted to 45.5 million Twitter users and 100 million YouTube fanatics.
BA chief executive Willie Walsh used YouTube and Twitter feeds to keep customers right up to date during industrial action earlier in the year, helping keep damage to the brand at a minimum, with customers appreciating the honest and direct approach.
Tams also admitted that BA had spent at least half of their marketing budget on social media.