- Internet & the Web
The Future of Social Media for Hotel Marketing, Travel and Tourism
Travel Marketing in the Age of Participation
The TravelWatchNews blog “Social Media is not about being Social” is really a first look into the future of Social Media Networking and Marketing for travel and tourism. Social Media we conclude is not really about being social at all.
The key feature of the TravelWatchNews blog was an analysis of a Clay Shirky speech on TED and relating that to hotel and tourism marketing. This article sumaries the TWN blog and covers new ground in categorising and understanding the functions, provesses and tools of Social Media.
Facebook, Twitter and Social Media Changing Marketing and Media
From Clay’s talk and other expert knowledge, the blog identified 5 trends in media and communications. These can be summed up as:
Media is now digital and moving to the Internet. It is thus immediately and universally available in an interactive environment.
Everyone is a participant and communication options are exploding. Brands and consumers interact to create the channel, the media, the message and the processes that deliver the shopping experience.
Media and Marketing for Travel is going to be profoundly effected by these changes. The profusion of options and the fragmentation of markets in this age of participation means that persuasion and being seen cannot be accomplished with the old school techniques. Digital processes require digital technology, and reaching fragmented audiences requires automated processes to enable participation and distribution. What is Social Media Marketing and how to use social media networking for hotels and tourism marketing is an essential part of the future of travel industry.
The Social Media Landsacpe
Categorising Social Media
When I think about it, I wonder if any of the major social platforms and players will be recognized in the future. None have got it right yet. I suspect many major platforms will be replaced or morph into something entirely different. Facebook, the main social media network, is in fact not really geared up for the new media. It is not a media but a medium, that is, it is a network for connections and it is not designed for sharing content, publishing content or processing knowledge. Process is what will define the future.
Social Media Functions
Form and Function in the Social Landscape
I have thought about what is the social landscape and have attempted to graph the existing structure and show the relationships from a marketing perspective. The chart is helpful to the marketer, showing the parts of the social network and illustrating how all actions integrate to build a social index and profile. It does not categorise or explain Social Media.
Social Media categories overlap, and as all players are in constant change, the categorization is not set in stone. It will change; nevertheless it is important to understand the functions and processes. According to Adobe Omniture, the core social media functions are:
- Social News (Digg, Reddit, Twitter, Slashdot)
- Social Networks (Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Orkut, Care2)
- Social Media Content Sharing (YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt *)
* not include by Omniture are; eMags, eZines, Article site and Document sharing!
- Social Media Bookmarks (StumbleUpon, Delicious, Mister Wong)
- Social Media Knowledge (Wikipedia, Yahoo! Answers, Ask)
Pigeonholing any social site or platform by category is difficult as they change and many offer several of these functions, with no clear specialization in one area over another. Other sites like Press Release services, classified directories, article sites, magazine sites and blogging sites are already sharing and networking just as social media. In the next decade social services, Web 2.0 services, participation and enabling applications will be common across all categories and all media.
Understanding the new Media and Social Networking function and process, is helpful in planning a marketing strategy. One of the primary concerns for marketers is what processes should be on your own website and how will that coordinate that with the external sites used for sharing, networking and marketing.
Search engines have made the "Media is the Message" a tangible reality, by treating Social Networking sites, bookmarks and Web 2..0 properties as authority sites. In many cases, Fan Pages will outrank the official website. Done right bookmarks, fan pages and social profiles help company sites rank well and get found in search results. Search Engines are a vital part of the new media, it too will morph into a far more interactive channel in the age of participation.
Search Engines an Interactive Media
Search engines have made the "Media is the Message" a tangible reality, by treating Social Networking sites, bookmarks and Web 2..0 properties as authority sites. In many cases, Fan Pages will outrank the official website. Done right bookmarks, fan pages and social profiles help company sites rank well and get found in search results. Search Engines are a vital part of the new media, it too is morphing into a far more interactive channel, as we see with maps and pricing option now right in search results. Interactivity and consumer comment is an important trend of the new media. Search is more and more a media offering rich content to complex queries, including seasonally relevant rates and personal packages.
Bookable-maps as seen in tourism marketing of Barbados.org.are a good example of the interactivity we will see more of in the digital age of participation.
How Social Media can be used in distribution
Clay Shirky proposes that Facebook, Twitter and social networks are defining the future of media, advertising, marketing and communications. We call the new media the age of participation. It is an interactive network where consumers and suppliers are publishers enabled by the media.
This articles charts the form and function of Social Media. Each part: news, network, sharing, bookmarking and knowledge sites are changing the communications landscape. Social functions are now mainstream and are merging and integrating with websites, content marketing systems and media. When everything becomes social, social media will have no significance, what will matter is process and content.
Travel Marketing must embrace the digital processes and digital technology. To reach an increasingly fragmented audience requires increasing automation. Tourism marketers and business owners will find themselves in the information business. Content marketing will take on new meaning as Media looses its prominence as the message delivery system to the new paradigm where "Media is Everyone" in the age of participation.
In the next article, we will discuss the Content Marketing, the Medium and the Message in the age of participation.
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