The Travel Industry and Social Media

The time of year where one starts planning his or her respective vacations is upon us. Well, most of us. I am sure most of us, especially those of in the MENA region, find it especially challenging to find deals and flights, and ideas on where to go. Those in the travel industry seem to not have gotten the hang on Social Media, and just how useful and beneficial it could be for them.

Spending most of our lives on the internet, and most of that time on Social Media Networks, a few questions come to mind as of late when trying to find someplace to go on vacation, the major one being: Where on earth ARE the travel companies, airlines, and Ministries of Tourism?

Imagine just how many potential customers a travel agency, be it an online agency or not, could reach just by having an online presence; constantly tweeting with followers, and updating their Facebook pages with travel information, or having contest and competition applications as incentive!

The same can be said for major airlines and Ministries of Tourism. They definitely need to jump on the bandwagon. Offering packages or deals to those social media addicts, the travel industry can tap into those frequent flyers and those business travellers that spend most of their nights in hotels. Two Swedish companies are already reaping the benefits of Social Media by actively answering questions from customers on their Facebook pages as well as using Twitter to distribute promotions.

There are a few good cases from the travel industry in Europe, which seems to be one of the industries that are most actively embracing social media. However, the MENA region could easily take note and promote their services even better, and more effectively. Don’t you think?

Social Media: Both Sides of the Coin

There is a lot of talk and discussion on the net about the pros and cons of Social Media. Needless to say there are various good points on both sides of the coin, and since Social Media is definitely here to stay, let’s have a look at a few of those.

In terms of communication, it seems as if the world has literally shrunk in size. We now (and have been for quite some time) are able to connect much faster with people all over the world. The lightning-fast power of social media has been of unprecedented help in times of crisis such as during the MENA uprisings, and earthquakes.  In one incident in the US, a gunman went into a university, and students there were able to notify and warn each other via Facebook and Twitter before the University even knew. In that sense, Social Media has literally saved lives.

The other side of the coin is that in many cases, social media causes things to get lost in translation. False information can spread like the plague on Social Media networks. Anyone can post pretty much anything, from images, videos and all sorts of information. This results in major confusion, and in hurt reputations. (We don’t need to get into issues like leaked celebrity s– tapes and the sort to make this point now do we?) Moving on…

Regardless of the dangers, businesses and organizations are relying on Social Media now more than ever. In terms of advertising, I think we can all agree how lucrative it is, and how much more of a money saver it Is in terms of directly hitting the wanted demographic.  Goodbye to Radio, TV and Newspaper advertising!

Businesses and consumers both benefit from the speed of Social Media.  It allows both to get quick feedback on goods and services; another way of spreading that very important ‘word of mouth’ advertising.  People looking for work can also use SM to find out more about potential employers, the same way that employers keep a lookout for potential employees nowadays. Employers keep a watchful eye over profiles on social networks, looking through pictures and posts. Some things you post could actually get you fired, so people beware!

Also, the amount of self promoting narcissists out there on Facebook and other social networks seems to have quadrupled!

Do you think social networks are a cause of people becoming a little too self-obsessed, always posting way too many pictures and ‘TMI’ (Too Much Information)?

Making a YouTube Video go Viral

One question those of us in Social Media marketing agencies deal with on a constant basis the following: How do I make my YouTube video go viral?

A concept still new to many in the region, and largely misunderstood by those creating ads, posting them online, and then not knowing how to generate this ‘viral buzz’. Content obviously plays a part of whether the video is searched for based on said content. If you want a truly viral video that will get millions of people to watch and share it, then yes, content is key. However, it is not THE main deal breaker. Some videos are just not funny enough (when meant to be funny) or attention grabbing. Others are just badly made. No matter how much money one spends on advertising via social media or other means, the video might get thousands of viewers, but it most certainly won’t be shared and thus, won’t go viral.

So, some important tips to keep in mind when planning a viral video are the following:

  • Keep it short: 15-30 seconds is ideal. If the video is much longer, breaking it up into a few smaller clips is the way to go.
  • To get into the top most viewed videos page on YouTube (aka 50,000 views), harness the power of blogs, forums, Social Media Networks and Friends to spread, share and view the video. Taking it into the most viewed page, where thousands of people visit to find interesting videos, will turn it viral.
  • Once the video has 50,000 views or more, make sure the title and description are extremely catchy, because that is what will get people to click on the video. Both can be changed countless times.
  • A a compelling video thumbnail is the single best strategy to maximize the number of clicks the video gets once it is in the Most Viewed page on YouTube.
  • Get people to comment on your video. Create controversy if needed, even by creating fake accounts, and having a conversation with yourself.
  • Most importantly, if your video has any chance of going viral, it needs to hit the audience where it matters: It needs to achieve a physical response from there, be it a smile, a laugh, tears, goose bumps etc…
  • Make use of strategic tagging.
  • Keep tracking your video every week or couple of weeks, checking on increasing or decreasing views, and tweak it accordingly.

Beirut Online

communicate_may_11jpgThe digital revolution is shaking communication to the core. Where does Lebanon Stand?