Are we on the verge of a social networking backlash?
If you’re like most travel and tourism marketers, you’ve spent the last year building your social network and reallocating resources to support social channels. You’ve updated your FaceBook status, tweeted, yelped, posted videos and blogged to stay connected to our online communities. And maybe you’ve begun to wonder if it’s all worth it. If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent issue of the Wanderlust Report, an online newsletter about marketing destinations, resorts and attractions, marketers are looking at the return on investment and questioning the true value of social media marketing.
Titled “Social Media Marketing in the Year 2011,” the recent issue of the Wanderlust Report examines the current state of social media: Its promises, how it can and cannot be used to sell, and its future in the travel and tourism marketing mix.
“Since the beginning, the team at Wanderlust has viewed social media with some skepticism,” said Mark Shipley, President and Chief Strategic Officer of Wanderlust. “We’ve maintained a cautious, sometimes contrarian position about its role in marketing. Social media is not a silver bullet. It’s not a miracle cure for weak and underperforming brands. It’s another tool in the marketing toolbox, not a substitute for an integrated multi-channel strategy – a position we stand by today.”
A social phenomenon born in a perfect storm
The social media boom coincided with four key market influences: 1) the worst economic recession since the great depression; 2) the corresponding reduction in advertising budgets; 3) the sudden growth in smart phone and tablet computer use, and; 4) the seemingly endless supply of free, new-media technologies. The travel industry (like shell-shocked marketers everywhere) were in desperate need of a new solution – and social networking burst forth on the scene at the precise moment of our darkest hour.
The social revolution’s early promises
Back in 2008, the early promises of social media marketing seemed too good to be true. It promised to level the playing field and help smaller destinations and those with limited budgets compete with the big brands. Like never before, social media put the consumer in charge. It empowered people to pick and choose the messages they received, and provided a channel for loyalists to spread the love for their favorite brands (or flame against brands that wronged them). Social media foretold the end of mass marketing as we knew it; the imminent demise of traditional advertising, print and broadcast.
Get on board or get left behind
Shipley explains the urgency of adopting the new channel: “Social media marketing was foisted upon us. The boss told the marketing department to go figure it out, and then as an aside, mentioned that their budgets had been cut. Social media was an unknown, but new and exciting. We felt like we needed a Facebook page to compete. What would happen if we didn’t? Many jumped in without sound strategies, best practices or any understanding of how social media fit into otherwise integrated marketing communications plans. What choice did they have? It was join in or risk being left behind,” he concludes.
Read more of Social Media Marketing in the Year 2011 in the Wanderlust Report, Volume 3, Number 1.
Wanderlust provides marketing and branding expertise to destinations, resorts and tourism attractions. We help them uncover what will drive people to choose their destination above others and build integrated marketing programs to attract them — using mobile, the internet, social networks, direct marketing and mass media.
Contact: Mark Shipley