Why do people use social media? The answer is revealed

Why do people use social media? The answer is revealed

FIVE years ago, Travel Perspective was asked by an online travel agent to help re-write all of its destination content following a big algorithm change by Google.

The change, the largest of the Panda updates, targeted poor quality sites with thin content and a low text to advertising ratio. This OTA certainly qualified.

The offer was derisory. In fact, it could only have worked by taking the same approach the OTA had previously taken: paying students to re-write destination content already published on the web.

It’s difficult, I know. You start an online travel site and the chances are that you need content. But freelance writers and bloggers want paying, at least a reasonable rate, and the figures don’t stack up.

So, apart from laying out a fortune – which will probably never be recouped – the only option is to get destination content for free.

How? Through user reviews, such as TripAdvisor. Possibly by signing up to an affiliate programme. Or preferably by finding communities that produce content about their passion, or where they live, then aggregating, linking to or licencing that content.

It’s the best way: genuine content from people on the ground where they live, providing insights and knowledge that can never be obtained by an itinerant visitor. And, more importantly, by people who can provide real-time information to visitors.

In June, on this blog, I wrote about tourism boards and brands running WhatsApp groups for visitors in their destination, providing that real-time information.

And this week, I read some interesting statistics from the Office for National Statistics about social media usage in the UK, which confirmed that increasing need for information from the ground up.

Social Media in the UK


Of all the many reasons to use social media, the most important is to find out what’s happening in the user’s local area. That can also translate to visitors, who want information on events at that time.

Hence, the Istanbul Tourist Pass office and Sallbach Hinterglemm Tourist Board in Austria being among tourism brands to be constantly in touch with visitors on WhatsApp.

Live-time information from tourism professionals and residents in situ chimes perfectly with increasing use of mobile devices being used for search, viewing of videos and sharing content.

Responding to visitor information needs, and how they want it delivered, is paramount. Some get it, most don’t: one UK tourist board director recently asked me how many times a day they should check their Twitter account.

Make the information relevant, feel free to recommend the best, be on hand to answer questions and inspire visitors – so that they share their inspiration, and return with their friends and family. Not much to ask – but it’s what is required to be the best.

Download Social Media in the UK- Statistics from the Office for National Statistics

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Steve Keenan has been a travel journalist for 25 years. He started at a Reed paper, news editing at Travel News in London - now Travel Weekly - having spent the previous 10 years reporting general news at a variety of papers and news agencies, in the UK and abroad. He has also taught English in Peru, delivered cars in the USA, ran the Sydney desk at AAP and caught the train home from Hong Kong pre-fall of the Wall, the only hitch being a train strike in Belguim. Once Steve decided travel was his thing, he left TN in 1990 to freelance. He wrote freelanced for a variety of trade and consumer press, from L'Echo Touristique in France to The Journal of Air Commerce in New York. He began writing for The Times of London on travel news and business travel in 1996, went on contract two years later and joined the paper fulltime as deputy travel editor in 2000. In December 2004, he became the first national digital travel editor in the UK, running the travel website of The Times and Sunday Times. Three days after joining, the Indian Ocean tsunami happened and online reporting, video, webinars, analysis and comment suddenly made a lot of sense. The introduction of a paywall at the papers in 2010 persuaded him that the connected world might continue outside of Wapping and in December 2011, he left News International to co-form Travel Perspective. The company ran the inaugural Social Travel Market at Reed's World Travel Market in London last November, and now works with Reed Expos and other clients in helping the industry best understand and embrace the world of social and digital media in travel.

One comment

  1. Hey Steve! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and some important information on social medias. I agree that it’s a great tool to be closer to customers and learn about their likes and needs and then engage them. Thanks again, great post !

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