On Tuesday Twitter launched their Sponsored Tweets advertising platform. While there is a lot of dubiousness about advertising on a platform that has always been free and free of advertising, we are excited about the possibilities of using Sponsored Tweets in the travel industry.
We spend a lot of time and effort on behalf of clients to gain search relevance for general terms that apply to the business. It’s a no-brainer that they could benefit from having that same search power on Twitter. Of course, we have some reservations, but we also have a few ideas…
Search Metrics: One of the things that makes standard search engine marketing useful is the ability to use tools to find the overall search volume of a particular keyword. To date we have not seen the same tools to know overall volume of those terms searched through Twitter. We would assume that something like this would be included eventually, but knowing what you’re buying and who else is buying is extremely valuable.
User Sentiment: Will there be a backlash? Will users eschew sponsored tweets? Peter Kim (and others) call this a necessary evil, and suggest that Sponsored Tweets will be ignored or boycotted. That’s certainly a possibility, but if the volume of search activity is high and sponsors pick the right tweets, we expect it to be a benefit in the long run.
Regional CVBs: Convention and visitor bureaus are in the business of selling an experience. Nothing sells an experience better than a short, passionate endorsement from someone right in the heart of the experience. CVBs could monitor twitter for keywords around their brand, use tools like NodeXL to determine the quality of that user’s Twitter network, and then sponsor relevant tweets to promote core brand values. The advantage will be awareness, not only of the region as a whole, but of particular attractions within the region.
Ski Resorts: (Yep, we always talk about ski resorts.) Personal brands always have more reach and influence than commercial brands. We see that with ski resorts as well. Ski resorts post things to twitter that either promote the benefits of their property, promote events, or distribute operational information. For events and ops info, it’s important to reach a wide network in a short amount of time. If a lift is on wind hold, the road is closed for avalanche control or the mountian is staying open for an extra week in the spring, there’s a real need to spread that quickly. Sponsoring tweets or retweets from customers sharing that information could be a huge benefit to a ski resort in getting their information out in a hurry.
Lodging: People like to talk about where they stayed on vacation. If they had an awesome weekend at a hotel on the beach, you can bet they’ll snap a photo of themselves, applaud the awesome food or service, or outright recommend the place to their friends. This is perfect micro consumer reviews and brands treated well on twitter should not hesitate to sponsor the right tweets.
Awareness: We know that social media drives search. Increasing awareness of a travel brand, even if it isn’t acted on right away, will influence future searches for people researching travel. Sponsored Tweets could be a great boost to brand awareness.
Followers: If the sponsored tweets have a link to the Twitter account who sponsored them, that should lead to good organic growth of twitter followers. We would expect those new followers to be active and interested assets to the brand.
While there seems to be a lot of reservation on the part of marketing, advertising and agency people about the value of sponsored Tweets, we predict that getting in the Sponsored Tweet game sooner rather than later will end up being a huge benefit to travel brands.