The best way to sell your products on social media, is to not sell at all. Not at first, anyway. Sophie Bujold, digital marketing strategist and speaker, advises building trust, then selling.
And the best way to build trust, says Vancouver-based Bujold (who has several travel trade clients), is to use social media to offer up your expertise. For free.
“Invite people to create an initial connection via things like a complimentary download, a webinar or any other free of charge offer you can dream up. From there, you get them on your email list where you can sell more directly.”
For example, you might want to tweet a link to your blog on table manners in Japan. If it’s a hot topic (you’ll know by the number of clicks), follow up with a free, in-depth webinar on Japanese culture and customs. And so on, until you’ve forged the level of trust needed to start selling.
In a way, this is the easy part because you are the travel expert. You also probably know whether you are able to do the social media outreach yourself, or if you need to hire someone like Bujold.
More often than not, the hardest part tends to be deciding which social channel(s) will deliver the biggest ROI. Most small business owners don’t have the time or the resources to do them all.
Bujold says the answer should be two-pronged: “The best channels to pick are always the ones where your target clients hang out the most, and where you feel the most comfortable.” And that, she says, will vary from person to person.
“For instance, a travel professional who wants to target young families but isn’t a fan of Facebook might choose Pinterest instead.” According to Digital Marketing Ramblings, of the 70 million Pinterest users, 80% are female. Coupled with BMO’s survey result that “in 82% of Canadian households, women are either the primary decision-maker or have equal responsibility for financial decisions” means that if you spend time researching your target audience, the potential for landing a sale is exponentially better.
Once you know which social media channel is the best fit for your target audience and for you, Bujold says your next steps should look something like this:
- Listen to existing discussions and pay attention to what’s being said. Locate groups, join the conversation, like pages, respond to comments and follow people from your target audience. The more your information relates to what is meaningful and topical to your target audience, the easier it will be to develop a connection.
- Strategize. Develop a plan that covers your content and the frequency of your posts, pins and tweets. Your approach will vary based on the network(s) you choose. For Facebook: post daily and mix up the type of content you share, plus join groups and like conversations. For Twitter: aim for three to eight planned and spontaneous posts per day, join Twitter chats and create and follow hashtags.
- Just do it. Whichever social media channel you choose, commit! Remember all the work you did to create trust? This is how you sustain it, and sadly, this is where many travel professionals fail. Yes, it does take work and commitment – that comes with the territory – but when done right, you’ll realize results.
- Wash, rinse, repeat, refine or redo. Not every social media effort will be a resounding success, but all of it can be used to refine your plan. Notice what causes chatter in the form of likes, comments, shares, retweets and conversely, what brings on the crickets. This is important intel; use it to repeat, refine or redo your efforts. Some networks, like Facebook, offer detailed statistics if you want to drill deeper.
For more tips and tricks from Sophie Bujold, visit her at sophiebujold.com.