Social media has slowly woven itself into all of our lives since its boom in the early 2000s. And there is no sign that its integration into social life, business and travel is slowing down.
After the mind-boggling use of MySpace in the United States landed in the hundreds of millions at its peakplatforms such as Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok have literally caught the world’s attention.
Average working age people now spend up to half past two on social media platforms every day. And it’s no secret that companies have taken notice, especially news ones that want to make a splash quickly – and cheaply.
“For startups, this is one of the most cost-effective ways to build brand awareness,” said Martin Stoll, CEO of Sparkloft Media, a creative agency that works with travel brands and has its roots as a social media agency. He calls social media “a must-have for any brand.”
Perhaps no one on a trip has taken this more to heart than @hotel, a hotel booking platform that founder and CEO Konrad Waliszewski likened to an “OTA for Instagram and TikTok.” Even though @hotel lacks the revenue streams of large online travel agencies, its 60 million followers on social media accounts could make it a strength if the role of social media in travel searches continues to grow. .
“Social media is the new SEO, and travelers are searching Instagram and TikTok before Google,” he said.
But after years of different social platforms taking center stage – some have disappeared (RIP Vine) and others are skyrocketing: Which platforms remain relevant for travel startups marketing their products to the general public? Is TikTok the most important? X – formerly Twitter – does it still matter?
How do startups and travel companies decide which platforms to use?
Simply put, different social media platforms serve different purposes.
According to knowledgeable users, the most important thing is to keep in mind which sites attract the customers they want for their business.
“We will go where our customers are, wherever they spend time,” said Kyle Tibbitts, chief marketing officer at Wander, a network of smart vacation homes. “(We are) agnostic as to which platform wins or loses.”
Strategies should keep pace with the attention-grabbing platform and content.
“Our playbooks are evolving every day based on new information,” Waliszewski said. “This data continues to unlock new ways to capture attention faster, sustain engagement longer, and generate enough emotion or value to be worth sharing, recording, or commenting on. As tactics constantly change, mastering this dynamic is key to unlocking viral growth.
How do travel startups use social media?
Jared Alster, co-founder of Dune7a digital marketing agency for travel and tourism brands, said goals and intentions matter when it comes to using social media.
“I think it depends heavily on the industry the business is in and its target customers,” Alster said.
“On the B2B or B2B2C side, brands like For a do a great job of bringing their product to life by featuring user stories through LinkedIn,” Alster continued. “Our client battle face leverages LinkedIn as a distribution channel for their podcast.
Alster added that the brands Dune7 works with take a strategic approach when deciding what content to share and where.
According to him, the way to decide which platforms to use depends on several factors.
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“I think it comes down to 1) identifying your audience; 2) test quickly and widely on the platforms that make sense for your business; 3) double paid social media as growth allows and once you can demonstrate positive profitability (return on investment)/per unit for a specific platform,” Alster said.
Kim Bennett, CEO and Founder of AtlasGuru, agreed that each platform has different uses and is perhaps driven by different goals. At AtlasGuru, Bennett said the company uses social media in a secondary capacity to generate web traffic.
“Instagram is very visual and great for showcasing beautiful and breathtaking travel destinations, and Pinterest, another great visual platform, has amazing search and discovery capabilities that we’ve found to be a great web traffic driver,” Bennett said.
Acquiring customers is the most challenging aspect of the travel industry, according to Waliszewski, who likened using Google Ads to “an arms race.” And the social has left room for growth.
“We’ve found our way by building an organic content marketing machine that creates over (1,000) pieces of social content per day,” Waliszewski said. “We have also created proprietary social data tools that enable daily SEO optimization and evolve algorithms across platforms. As a result, we go viral an average of three times a day, have an organic reach of 2 billion every month, and grow by around 3 million followers every month.
In the meantime, propellanta B2B travel marketing agency, uses LinkedIn as its primary social media because that’s where its audience primarily resides.
“Our primary goal is to showcase the marketing ideas of successful companies, inspiring other companies in the travel and tourism industries,” said Soledad Rodriguez, Propellic Brand Marketing Manager. “We regularly share case studies, webinars and podcasts featuring industry experts. »
Which social media platform is most important for travel startups?
There is no single platform that is the most important.
However, some platforms have been more successful than others. Instagram, for example, is the most downloaded app in the world, followed by TikTok and then Facebook, according to Hoot Suitewho published a report entitled “Social Media Trends 2023.”
Waliszewski said @hotel seeks to be an early innovator across all social platforms. But some have proven to be more useful than others.
“The two platforms we care about the most – Instagram and TikTok – continue to grow and gain more and more consumer attention,” Waliszewski said.
Social media is the new SEO, and travelers search Instagram and TikTok before Google.
Konrad Waliszewski – @hotel
“Other than YouTube, we haven’t seen the same positive trends for Snap, Twitter (now X), etc. Of course, new platforms come and go, and we’re always quick to experiment, but for now, Instagram and TikTok remain the most popular. priority for us,” Waliszewski said.
Instagram is also a priority for Wander, as was YouTube at the start. YouTube remains important for longer content for Wander. Instagram, he said, remains important for shorter-form content. And X, he added, also counts for what he calls “early user updates.”
For Wander, TikTok and Threads fall under what Tibbitts identified as “secondary” channels to “test and learn.” LinkedIn is also useful in a “third” compartment.
But ultimately, a brand’s experience with social media marketing is individualistic. It’s about following your audience – in order to get them to follow you, in a way.
Propellic’s Rodriguez insisted on a point made by his peers: “There’s no point in scattering yourself across many platforms without making sure the right message reaches the right audience at the right time.”