Social Media for businesses – What’s it all about?
According to marketers, the main benefits of social media marketing are increasing exposure and increasing traffic for their business (Stelzner, 2015) Effective social media marketing can enable companies to raise brand awareness, establish the brand’s personality, communicate with existing and potential customers, and build real connections. Social media provides opportunities to engage with customers at all points of the purchase funnel, and, with the exponential growth of social networking platforms, customers are no longer limited to a passive role in their relationship with a company (Malthouse, Haenlein, Skiera, Wege & Zhang, 2013). Social media facilitates word of mouth marketing and customers help to amplify positive messages on behalf of a brand by sharing content with their social network. Conversely, negative customer experiences can also be shared on social media with the potential to reach a wide audience.
The power of social connections is hugely significant in terms of reach of a company’s message. By focusing on customer experience, companies can use social CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to increase positive engagements and turn customers into brand advocates. One size does not fit all on social media and understanding the audience of various platforms is essential in order to correctly reach out to different segmentations. As Frederiksen (2015) notes “the culture and audiences of the different social platforms should inform all of your content creation”. The customer journey keeps changing, and digital marketers must continuously adapt their approach. Using social media analytics, companies can gain insights into changing consumer interests and trends, key social influencers, ad-campaign effectiveness and competitive intelligence (Fan & Gordon, 2014, p. 74), thus enabling them to determine the content, platforms and users that best fit their business strategy.
How Social Media is used in Tourism Ireland
Tourism Ireland has a strong social media presence with more than 3.5 million Facebook fans and 340,000 Twitter followers (Tourism Ireland, 2016). Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are the key social channels with increasing activity on Instagram, Pinterest, and the newly launched ‘Community’ forum on ireland.com. Based on social media followers, the organisation is consistently ranked amongst the most popular tourism boards in the world. Social media marketing plays an important role in Tourism Ireland’s corporate strategy and the goal is to move consumers through the purchase funnel, from inspiring or informing to actually booking a holiday to the island of Ireland. Tourism Ireland uses Social Equivalent Advertising Value (SEAV) to quantify the value of engagements with fans and measure the return on investment in social media activities. The company continues to adapt to changing platforms and algorithms with increased use of visual content and User Generated Content (UCG) and strategic partnerships with travel bloggers and compatible brands, which enable both parties to gain from the other’s brand equity.
Reaching out to a brand on Twitter
For this task, I decided to focus on a tourism related product. Leading up to Easter, I asked the Irish Whiskey Museum @IWMDublin whether they would be open as normal on Good Friday. I received a reply from @IWMDublin in under 4 hours.
While @IWMDublin confirmed that the museum would be open, their response was quite brief with no additional information. In my opinion, details about the opening hours and a link to their website, particularly their booking page, would have been very practical and could have fit into the 140-character limit on Twitter. Providing more information would have enabled the museum to promote their product and raise brand awareness as their reply would have appeared in the timeline of any Twitter users following both @IWMDublin and me. Furthermore, a direct link to their booking system could help to move potential customers along the purchase funnel and increase conversions.
Asking a brand a question on Facebook
Compared to Twitter, I found it more challenging to receive a response from brands on Facebook. After several attempts on other pages, I wrote a question on Rachel’s Irish Adventures Facebook looking for information on gift vouchers. I received a reply within 2 hours.
It was a very positive interaction and I received relevant and useful information, including a direct link to a landing page where I could purchase a gift voucher. The replies also provided suggestions for activities and accommodation for which the voucher could be redeemed, and a tag to another Facebook page endorsed by Rachel’s Irish Adventures. The interaction was enhanced by the offer of further help should I have any additional questions. The replies highlight strong marketing skills and excellent customer focus. Based on the prompt, helpful and friendly response, I feel that Rachel’s Irish Adventures would offer a positive customer experience – something which can be attributed to the ‘Halo Effect’ of social media marketing (Frederiksen, 2015).
Fan, W., & Gordon, M. (2014). The power of social media analytics. Communications of the ACM, 57(6), 74-81.
Frederiksen, L. (2015). The Psychology of Social Media Marketing: 4 Ways to Increase Interaction. Hootsuite Social Media Management. Retrieved 2 April 2016, from https://blog.hootsuite.com/psychology-of-social-media-marketing-4-ways-to-increase-interaction/
Malthouse, E., Haenlein, M., Skiera, B., Wege, E., & Zhang, M. (2013). Managing customer relationships in the social media era: Introducing the social CRM house. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 27(4), 270-280.
Stelzner, M. (2015). 2015 Social media marketing industry report: How Marketers are using social media to grow their businesses. Social Media Examiner. Retrieved on 5 April 2016, from http://live-socialmediaexaminer.pantheon.io/SocialMediaMarketingIndustryReport2015.pdf
Tourism Ireland (2016). Have you got a story to tell? Tourism Ireland Industry Opportunities. Retrieved 3 April 2016, from https://www.tourismirelandindustryopportunities.com/How-We-Can-Help/Have-you-a-story-to-tell