This is the final combined steps four and five in my five step recommendation on what a travel supplier should do to build a social media strategy.
Critical to the first four steps in this recommendation is that launching a social strategy does not mean opening up a Twitter account or Facebook page and typing away.
Instead, I recommend holding off on signing up with social media sites until a series of preparatory steps are undertaken. They are
Part Four: Craft product and content plans
Using the data collected, plans made and early monitoring, suppliers can now start to craft the product and content plans that will make up the social media plan strategy.
There are two parts to this step – developing product offerings and developing content plans. In the product area it is time to craft targeted deals and offers specific to social media distribution platforms and demand patterns.
Taking first steps at micro-targeting. Using the data collected and information provided from distribution partner and own sales channels to engage in targeted product development.
That is, the development of offers and product specifically designed to target the customers identified in part one and tracking and investigated in part two and three.
The offers/products developed should not be exclusively targeted at pre-sales activities or driving immediate transaction response.
As we discussed in part one, there are many different ways that consumers can be targeted without having to require an immediate transactional response.
Social media content and offers during and post consumption could be just as (if not even more) valuable than transactionally focused product.
This is where the communications development is as important as product development. Using the information collected in the first three steps to plan a whole of company customer conversation plan based on the developed social media goals.
Content creation is just as important as offer creation. The people/department responsible for your social content creation should be looking into both areas of content creation - proactively creating content on your own site and social media platform pages and in responding to user generated content across the web.
[NB: For more on content and UGC see Three rules for a UGC start-up]
It will take time and devoted effort to craft these product and content plans. It cannot be rushed.
Talking, writing, posting, updating and tweeting before you have crafted targeted offers and messages increase the risk of your conversation falling flat and lacking response.
Especially if you try to simply take offline and static web brand approaches and translate them into social posts. In all likelihood you will find that each social channel requires a different target approach and therefore different content response. This is a good approach.
With products prepared and content ready to go... it is time for the final stage.
And, the bonus one, Part Five: Start saying it and stick to it
Now you can open the accounts, sign up and start being social. The critical part of this step is to be engaged for the long haul.
Do not dip into and out of social media. Make a long term commitment to creating content and products targeted to this channel.
Launching a content or product plan and then pulling out if response is low or the time commitment too hard is the wrong response.
If the plans are not working, stay committed but go back to step one and come at the strategy from a different angle.
A social media audience can take time to build and may require different angles that first planned. Trying once then pulling out will take you out of the conversation – leaving it to others to drive the conversation around your brand.