Posted by: Kathy Dragon | October 15, 2008

What’s Your Social Media Strategy?

“Companies are still in the infancy of social marketing” | Eyefortravel

Published: 14 Oct 2008

Online Marketing in Travel Special

“Listening to your consumers – wherever they may be – is critical. Organisations that are currently deploying software or agencies to help them monitor the conversations about their brands are ahead of the game.”

This comment came from Cassandra Imfeld Jeyaram, PhD, Social Marketing Manager, Global Consumer Marketing, InterContinental Hotels Group during EyeforTravel’s Online Marketing in Travel 2008 conference held in Chicago earlier this year.

She said travel suppliers are beginning to tap into the power and momentum of web 2.0 sites and technologies.

“But most companies are still in the infancy of social marketing,” she said.

As social networking sites aggregate and rank trusted reviews from other travelers, and as the semantic web becomes a reality, travel suppliers are participating in such conversations and using the medium to address issues head on and to serve the needs of customers.

“Each organisation will need to develop their own strategy of how to best engage with their customers. Right now, I think a lot of companies are listening and watching before jumping into the conversation,” Jeyaram had said. “At this time I think organisations are just beginning to realise the potential and the impact of social marketing on their communications and engagements with their guests.”

Jeyaram added that to avoid confusion, organisations should invite the conversations to their official websites.

For IHG, its social marketing efforts must be tied to generating revenue, says Jeyaram.

So which is the best way to measure the ROI of advertising campaigns in a social media environment? Should it be revenue (traditional ROI tracking from CPM or integrations on a historic booking level) or tracking `Talkabilty’ or audience spending time on the advertisers site?

On this, Jeyaram said, “For IHG, we’ve been tasked to measure and understand how our social marketing efforts relate back to an increase in room nights. This approach is different than many – if not most – organisations today who measure engagement.”

Experts recommend that travel suppliers should adopt a corporate social media strategy which should focus on Brand defensive strategy; Corporate policy regarding employees and social media; Brand-sponsored SM initiatives and SM as a marketing medium.

On this, Jeyaram said each company should develop a social marketing strategy that meets their objectives.

“We’re developing social marketing best practices – but we’re not going to police our employees per se,” she said.

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