Travel Republic, the UK online travel agency, has hit a social media milestone in attracting 1,021,907 followers on Google in less than a year.
The agency, which claims it books more than 2 million customers a year, says its goal has been to engage with existing and potential customers, extending even beyond its home UK market.
Google+, the search engine's social layer, has become by far the brand's most popular social media channel.
The best-performing posts on Travel Republic's Google+ page have been visual ones, especially ones including images of unusual, beautiful, and unique hotels.
Traffic to some hotels went up by as much as 633% following a Google+ post.
The most popular of its posts generated more than 8,000 clicks direct to the agency's website. Some posts have garned more than 4,257 +1’s and hit the maximum comment limit.
In October 2012, a Travel Republic post on the Ubud Hanging Gardens in Bali received 3,231 +1’s and its link to TravelRepublic.com received 7,450 clicks. Similarly, a post about the Villa Seminyak Estate in Bali recorded 4,257 +1’s with the link from Google+ to the site, producing 4,224 clicks.
Another post on the picturesque Citta Del Mare Hotel Village won 3,994 +1’s and 1,404 shares, while sending over 8,000 clicks to the Travel Republic website.
A few Google+ strategies helped
Travel Republic lucked out, somewhat, in that it was promoted by Google to users of Google+, via What's Hot, a Google+ feature to promote posts with a lot of interaction (a bit like trending topics on Twitter).
"These can appear in people's news feed even if they don't follow the brand, or if a user clicks on ‘Explore’ in Google+ it shows a selection of ‘hot and recommended’ posts," explains Lynda Daboh, managing director at Wonder Communications, which handles PR for Travel Republic.
In its latest initiative, the company has started to get involved in Google+ "communities" as well.Its inaugural community is called ‘Beach Holidays’.
Getting the basics right also helped.
Travel Republic also installed the Google+ (like this! share this!) badge on its homepage. The badge displays the number of followers, and as the number of followers grew, it encouraged others to join its page.
Adding a +1 button to email marketing was helpful, too, in speeding up the pace of follows.
Google+ enables users to upload high quality full sized photos, which Travel Republic found encourage more shares than photos on other social networks it has experimented with.
Changed approach to content marketing
In a statement, Sophie Manning, a marketing executive at Travel Republic, said:
Since using Google+ we have completely altered the type of updates and posts we use.
It has showed us that by including unique content and sharing interesting images and news means you get much more exposure.
Now a lot more thought and care is put into the type of posts we do, making sure that it’s fresh and interesting and stands out from other travel pages.
Make sure when posting on your page to think beyond just your local customer and consider international audiences; not everyone is suffering with bad weather, as we sometimes are in the UK, for example.
We’re hoping to use the page to specifically target our international audiences and separate our posts by language by using the upcoming geo-targeting option.
We are planning to create circles for each of our international markets so we can ensure that our messages are targeted to the right audience.
While some travel brands have written off Google+, Travel Republic joins others in the UK market, such as Kuoni, that have claimed tangible success with dedicated effort on the platform.