With the number of social media users set to reach more than 3 billion in 2021, the way that audiences use the internet has changed and developed.
Brands must now keep up-to-date with the latest social trends to stay relevant. As online communications increase in popularity, the need for celebrity endorsement and costly media advertising budgets is significantly lower.
Consumers are now looking to ordinary people to promote the latest products and services, which has led to the rise of influencer marketing. Trusting the recommendations of their favourite blogger accounts, non-celebrity bloggers are 10 times more likely to influence a purchase than a celebrity. In an industry filled with competitors, choosing the right travel influencer to collaborate with is vital to reaching the right audience.
Here are the top 25 travel influencers to work with in 2019.
Looking to get your brand in front of as many eyes as possible? The most-followed travel influencer in 2018 with 4.3m followers, Murad Osmann travels the globe with his wife Nataly. His work came to popularity by the unique camera angle which shows his wife taking his hand and leading him towards incredible landmarks. His #followmeto campaign is followed by thousands.
Featured on both Oprah and Forbes, influencer Gloria decided to head to Europe with US$500 after graduation. Seventy-three countries later, she now lives out of her suitcase and works on her blog full-time. Embracing authenticity and creativity, the blog attracts audiences through motivational and encouraging messages.
Celebrating a world of colour, Jennifer Tuffen is a British travel writer and blogger who is perfect for any brand looking for artistic visuals. Followed by millions, Tuffen also created a photo-editing app so fans can capture their own travel highlights.
Selling everything they owned to travel the world, the Gee family visited 65 countries in three years. The go-to for brands looking to attract families, this account inspires parents to see the world with their little ones. Garett, Jessica and their three young children are watched by thousands as they visit popular destinations. Most recently, they have settled in Hawaii, but continue to share their holidays abroad.
Is your brand all about the adrenaline? Louis Cole has built his following by taking risks. Acknowledged by Forbes as one of the top 10 world travel influencers in 2017, he started by eating unusual local delicacies in various countries. Louis has now set his sights on finding the world's most exhilarating activities, including flying round the world in a biplane.
If your brand is looking for video content, then Ben Brown is the ideal collaboration for you. With more than 700,000 subscribers on YouTube, Ben uploads daily vlogs in exotic destinations. Ben has worked with big brand names such as BMW, Hilton and LG.
Influencer Melissa Hie is on a mission to 'eat her way around the world'. The perfect travel account to reach food lovers worldwide, the images focus on the delicacy first and then the location. With thousands waiting for the next tasty treat, it celebrates a much-loved aspect of seeing the world.
Leaving her job as a mechanical engineer 2011, Juno Kim is now followed by thousands as she uploads photos and blogs about her travels. Highlighting the social aspect of travelling, she focuses on the inspirational stories of the people she meets along the way.
Being a travel influencer doesn't always mean you have to cross the globe – and influencer Rosie Thomas has realised just this. An expert in all things London, the blog recommends hotels, restaurants and hidden gems in the city. Working with fashion brands such as Michael Kors, she is one to approach about the latest in the capital.
What's better than two influencers for the price of one? Twins Claire and Laura found they were both anxious when it came to travelling. After deciding to take on the journey together, they now share their experiences of seeing the world. With thousands of followers and a podcast, enjoy the twin perspective on all things travel.
Unusual for a travel influencer, Marian Drew doesn't use photographs to show her travels. Instead, the account highlights the importance of descriptive writing and is filled with writings and drawings on paper of her latest adventures.
Mixing the worlds of fashion and travel, influencer Jessica heads around the globe in vintage and designer clothes. A mother since April 2017, Jessica attracts an audience of young mums as her and her daughter travel side by side. Voted one of the most influential style bloggers by fashionista.com, she is a great choice for brands wanting incorporate the latest catwalk trends.
With his site attracting four million visitors a month, Brian Kelly advises travellers on how to make the most of their travel reward cards. The page also gives audiences the latest deals and top tips in travel.
After quitting her full-time job, Sherry Ott now focuses on the experiences of travelling the world as a solo female wanderer. Her travels have taken her all over the world, with diverse destinations such as Panama and Antarctica.
Attracting millennials worldwide, they are two 1990s-born vloggers with more than 600,000 subscribers. Education young people on different cultures and topics, they are both multi-lingual and upload videos in different languages.
Husband and wife Dave & Deb use the power of colourful visuals to attract thousands. Offering travel tips and advice after visiting more than 105 countries, they have been named by Forbes as one of the top 10 travel influencers.
Using #takeyourkidseverywhere, family travel writer Eric Stoen captures his travels through sharing photos of his children in spectacular locations. A skilled photographer, he is also an ambassador for AFAR and Travelocity.
Filmmaker and environmentalist Jack Harries has gained millions of followers through captivating vlogs around the world. The videos give a unique insight into the lives of the people in each of the countries through interviews and incredible photography.
Sharing useful travel tips with thousands of followers, travel hacker Clint Johnston shares the latest deals. Visiting more than 100 countries in the past decade, he's been featured in the BBC, Lonely Planet and CNN.
If breathtaking landscapes is part of your brand guidelines, then Oliver Vegas is the perfect collaboration for you. His photo's consist of landmarks around the globe shot in unique angles. For animal lovers, there's also some incredible wildlife close-ups.
Having visited every country on the planet, Lee shares his outdoor adventures with thousands online. His experiences include the world's highest bungee jump in South Africa and silverback gorilla tracking in Rwanda. Now a multimedia travel personality, you can can catch him regularly on BBC and Fox News.
Foodie, traveller and nutritionist, Keira combines both lifestyle and travel by motivating her followers. Struggling with her weight in the past, Keira now travels around the globe giving healthy lifestyle tips along the way.
Working as a freelance photographer for the likes of Apple and American Airlines, Chris's eye for detail has gained him millions of followers. Snapping incredible moving shots around the world, he is now senior staff photographer at Surfer magazine.
The key to a successful influencer marketing strategy is collaborating with the right influencer for your brand. When deciding on one to approach, always consider their audience and whether this aligns with your demographic. These steps guarantee that the new partnership brings positive results.
Avoid sending mass emails to influencers. Most receive offers every day, so make your brand stand out by tailoring your response. Explain why you think their work and your brand are the perfect fit.
With travel writers and bloggers reaching millions of people around the globe, influencer marketing can be that all-important exposure that your brand needs to get to the top.
Facebook has had a particularly busy start to 2018, announcing a string of updates that have the potential to significantly alter news feeds and advertising. While Facebook’s commitment to improving the user experience seems unwavering, questions remain around what these changes mean for brands and businesses.
Those that have long relied on the platform as a means of promotion and a way to engage directly with consumers are likely to feel the impact most. But what exactly has been announced, and what do Facebook’s updates mean for your business in 2018?
News feed algorithm alterations
Perhaps the biggest update of all came in January, when Facebook announced it would be rolling out an amended news feed algorithm that favours content from friends and family, as opposed to brands, businesses and news outlets. In a seemingly direct response to the criticism the platform has faced around the ‘fake news’ controversy, founder Mark Zuckerberg outlined the plans in a blog post at the beginning of the year.
“You’ll see less public content, including news, video and posts from brands”, Zuckerberg explained. “After this change, we expect news to take up roughly 4% of News Feed – down from roughly 5% today”. Such statistics seem small, but consider that 510,000 comments, 293,000 statuses and 136,000 pictures are uploaded to the site every minute, and it becomes clear just how significant this percentage drop will be.
Page insights updates
Another update was announced last month that has potentially big results for brands and advertisers using the platform. Facebook plans to remove as many as 20 metrics from their business analytics pages, deeming them to be “redundant, outdated, not actionable or infrequently used”.
Facebook has marketed the plans as a step towards increased transparency for brands and business owners, giving users the tools needed to hone in on the metrics that really matter. Regardless of your feelings towards the removal of long-standing metrics such as page mentions and social impressions, the update serves as another sign that Facebook is radically altering its approach towards businesses that use the platform.
What the updates mean for businesses
While every business is likely to view the changes differently, there’s no shying away from the fact that they promise to have a significant impact across all sectors.
John Ridding, Chief Executive of the Financial Times, criticised the update, commenting that “quality content will no longer be an option” if no sustainable solution is found to the problems posed by the rise of so-called ‘fake news’. Instead of the changes proposed, Ridding suggests implementing “a valuable subscription model on platforms that enables publishers to build a direct relationship with readers and to manage the terms of access to their content”.
In many ways, the updates mirror changes that are happening across the wider web. Search engines including Google have been taking steps to promote quality content that’s of the highest value to its audience. Facebook is following suit in its attempts to put user experience front and centre, adopting a mantra of ‘quality over quantity’ with regard to the content they promote.
In theory, brands who actively create engaging, shareable content should still be able to thrive under the new algorithm, however there are of course some additional limitations to consider. Posts that encourage organic engagement are still likely to perform better than those that don’t. However, getting the content seen in the first place is likely to pose a bigger problem than before.
How to make the updates work for you
Focus on producing quality content that appeals directly to your audience. It’s no longer enough to rely on a big budget and let boosted ads do the hard work for you. Instead, everything you produce should meet the needs of your audience in order to encourage valuable organic engagement.
Alternate the ways that you use Facebook. Consider channels such as Facebook Live, which the brand’s Head of News Feed, Adam Mosseri, promotes as a valuable way for brands to boost engagement. “Live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos”. Facebook has been quick to confirm that posts generating conversation will continue to rank most favourably, so it’s worth exploring different avenues in a bid to encourage engagement.
Of course, there’s always the option of investing in alternative channels and methods to help boost growth. While many businesses rely on social as a means of connecting with audiences, exploring other avenues such as PR and content marketing can certainly help to bridge the gap for those who have historically used the platform for brand awareness and promotion.
For more information or to discover how Ad-Rank can help to protect the interests of your business, get in touch today.
The beginning of a new year brings with it a sense of change – and the marketing industry is no exception. From mobile ranking updates to voice search trends, here's a selection of the biggest headlines from January.
Google to make mobile page speed a ranking factor
Google have announced plans to update their ranking algorithm on mobile, with mobile page speed set to become a key factor from July 2018. For many marketers the decision feels long overdue – page speed has been a ranking factor for desktop searches since 2010.
Google have been quick to clarify that search intent will still be a key factor moving forward, and just because a site is slightly slower, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be penalised so long as the content is valuable to its audience.
“The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content”, write Google’s Zhiheng Wang and Doantam Phan. “We encourage developers to think broadly about how performance affects a user’s experience of their page and to consider a variety of user experience metrics.”
Google’s own PageSpeed Insights tool can give an initial view of how your site is performing on mobile, including relevant optimisation suggestions that could help you to improve mobile speed ahead of the update.
Facebook de-emphasises commercial content
Social media giant Facebook has announced plans to better prioritise updates from friends and family on news feeds, placing less emphasis on branded and commercial content.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg identified user feedback as a primary catalyst behind the change, as the platform makes a conscious decision to increase the time users spend on site and deliver a more personal, engaging experience.
“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us”, Zuckerberg wrote in a post earlier this month. “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media… it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
Just a week after the announcement, Facebook introduced additional plans to cut down on the amount of so-called ‘fake news’ being promoted on the platform. Instead, its algorithm will favour sources that users consider trustworthy and informative. It is believed that it will be up to users themselves to rate articles and publishers on their quality and value, improving the chances of the most trustworthy stories being promoted to others. With one of our 2017 surveys revealing that 57% of us use social media as a news source on a daily basis, it will be interesting to see just how much of an impact these changes have on the wider media.
Big brands turn their backs on Super Bowl advertising
America’s annual Super Bowl is renowned for attracting big name brands – the likes of which have been known to spend up to $4.8 million (£3.4 million) for a 30-second match-day advertising slot. This year however, many household names are shunning this more traditional form of advertising ahead of February’s big game.
“It feels very old school for a lot of brands”, explains Jennifer Zimmerman of advertising agency McGarryBowen. “It’s much more about finding new formats, finding fresh ground, finding new experiences.”
KFC, Honda and GoDaddy are among the big names opting out of Super Bowl advertising this year, months after a report revealed that just 10% of consumers can remember both the advert and the brand being advertised after the game. What’s more, as viewing figures for the Super Bowl have increased by 300% since its inception, ad rates have risen by an astonishing 12,000%.
Chrysler’s 2011 ad, ‘Imported from Detroit’, is acknowledged as the most expensive Super Bowl commercial to date. Featuring a brief appearance from musician Eminem, the whole ad cost a cool $12.4 million (£8.7 million) to produce and air.
Voice search users gain confidence using devices in public
A new survey by Stone Temple Consulting suggests that we’re gradually becoming less inhibited about using voice search in public spaces. The study revealed a significant YOY increase in people’s willingness to use voice search in different environments, including in restaurants, at the office and on public transport.
The only environments where voice search use is down YOY are “at home alone” and “at home with friends”. This suggests that people are more comfortable using voice commands in public, and no longer feel the need to limit the use of smart devices to the home.
The data also concludes that men are more likely to use voice search than women in all environments, both private and public.
We hope that these latest updates give you an insight into how to plan your digital marketing for 2018. For more advice, get in touch today.
From re-tweeting and re-gramming photos to harnessing the power of real-time customer engagement, it has never been so important for travel brands to make the most of user-generated content.
Sharing content on social media networks has been the number one online activity for almost a decade, ever since it stormed ahead of adult content use in 2008. Not only is user-generated content proving likely to engage users twice as often as brand-made media, it’s also a fast and cost-effective way to keep your social feeds fresh and build trust with your audience.
With 82% of consumers saying they trust travel brands more if they are involved in social media, it’s time to dive in and get interactive with user-generated social content.
90% of internet users base decisions on online content.
Whether someone is shopping for a hatchback or a holiday, a new blender or a pair of a shoes, a recent survey has shown that 90% of internet users will look to online content to help them make decisions on how to spend their money. Two thirds of people trust the opinions of other consumers online – as well as editorial content - while less than half trust regular advertising that they see on social media.
Posting regular, relevant, interesting content is always important – but if you can utilise user-generated content, there’s a good chance that consumers will trust it above and beyond adverts you’re producing yourself. With 76% of travellers now sharing their experiences on social media, it’s easier than ever to share trusted content with your target market.
Photos and videos drive engagement
It’s a fact of marketing life that incorporating video marketing and product photography into your strategy will get you better results than neglecting to do so. Content that contains relevant images gets up to 94% more views than that which doesn’t – and tweets that contain images get 150% more retweets than those without.
For travel brands in need of up-to-date, appealing imagery, Twitter and Instagram can be a real lifesaver – especially if you consider the cost of generating your own, custom travel content. Users share photos and videos of your products and their experiences in real time, enabling you to share fresh, genuine content that people will feel is an accurate representation of what you’re offering.
With evidence suggesting that users are up to three times more likely to engage with user-generated video on Twitter than any other kind, it’s also safe to also suggest that a travel brand that regularly shares UGC will get higher engagement than one that doesn’t.
Whether someone is booking a package holiday or a round-the-world backpacking trip, encourage them to hashtag your brand on Twitter and Instagram when they share their experiences. Successful campaigns by STA Travel, Expedia and Real Gap have seen users uploading vast amounts of usable content in the hope of winning a prize or simply seeing their photo featured in a blog post. Not only does this mean an abundance of free images and videos for the brands to use, it also means a whole load of social media accounts that are pushing that brand to friends and followers.
The importance of interacting
Whether it’s a question, a complaint or a compliment, people are getting more and more used to instant communication. People expect to be responded to, and they expect it to happen quickly. A third of people who’ve used Twitter to contact customer services recently were contacting travel brands – and 71% of all users expect to get a reply to a query within the hour.
Travellers review as they travel, and it’s these reviews that are so important to other people looking to spend money. Retweet positive tweets, reply quickly to queries and you’ll build a positive image on social media.
It’s not all about images and sharing the best feedback – don’t be afraid to get user-generated editorial content too. With WordPress alone now hosting over 76 million blogs, chances are you won’t struggle to find a few blogging customers who are happy to promote themselves by writing a post for you. Encourage people to write about their experiences and feature the best content on your blog – you might say that a particular trip is great, but like anything, potential customers are more likely to believe what’s said when another consumer is the one telling them.
Here are some tips for leveraging User Generated Content in travel
Come up with a short, catchy hashtag that relates to your brand. Feature it in social bios, in brochures and on in-store posters –but don’t expect users to share a simple brand name. Users want to feel involved, not like they’re advertising. See Bamboo Project’s #doyoubamboo and Real Gap’s #myrealexperience.
Encourage people to share content using this hashtag by offering discounts, rewards, or simply the chance to be featured on your site.
Regularly retweet and regram photos and videos on social.
Seek user-generated blog content and publish frequently.
Interact as quickly and as often as possible with social users.
With an estimated overall spend of £15.72bn last year (up from 14.87bn in 2014), the UK’s advertising industry is certainly booming.
As big budget brands compete to take the limelight on a global scale, it’s easy for smaller businesses to get drawn into the belief that an effective branding strategy will inherently cost a fortune.
Despite the trend for lavish advertising, there are still some proven methods for building a brand on a tight budget. The key is to be consistently bold in your approach, and make a persistent effort to raise awareness through journalists and online influencers.
Join us as we take a look at the best ways to build a brand on a budget.
Social media outreach
Social media has revolutionised the way that we do business. Many of the world’s most successful brands are choosing to actively engage with consumers across a range of social platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. Sportswear giant Adidas demonstrated the power of social media in 2014, when the ‘all in or nothing’ campaign to celebrate the FIFA World Cup resulted in an amazing . In order to earn the honour of being the most talked about brand during the tournament, Adidas flooded social media with real time marketing and ensured that their channels provided fans with the most up-to-date content possible.
Smaller brands also have the potential to get their content shared by online influencers and industry insiders, so it’s important to continually reach out and make yourself visible to the right people. Take influence from the success stories of existing small brands such as DAVIDsTEA; a Canadian tea retailer that attributes much of its success to their engaging presence on social media. The company are known for replying to every comment that they receive, with their chatty, personable tone proving to be a huge hit with old and new customers alike. Social media is a great place to demonstrate your brand’s personality and taking the time to respond to each comment individually will prove to the audience that they continue to be your number one priority.
Shareability should be at the forefront of your mind during every stage of content creation. If it’s not easily sharable, you could be missing out on some vital opportunities to spread the word about your brand. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the competition, why not explore some of the lesser-known avenues of social media? For instance, have a go at creating relevant branded content that can be shared within Facebook’s growing network of closed groups. These are often built around niche topics and as each member is personally approved by group admin, it’s a great way to build relationships with people that already have a genuine interest in the products and services that you offer.
Build journalist relationships
There are plenty of ways to build relationships with journalists, writers and other key figures within your chosen industry. Social media is always a good place to start, so be sure to fully utilise tools such as Linkedin and Twitter. If you’re using the latter, try checking out which lists the journalists are a part of for a quick and easy way of finding related accounts.
Once you’ve established a list of potential contacts, it’s time to start reaching out and building relationships. Be bold in your approach and don’t shy away from making your voice heard by actively showcasing your brand identity from the beginning. Have courage when chasing responses from journalists, many of whom have overflowing inboxes that initial emails can easily get lost in. Make messages short and snappy and always be sure to include information on what it is that makes your brand different. As you don’t have a big budget you’re going to need to put in the extra effort to stand out as a worthwhile competitor, so take the time to engage with journalists on a personal level.
Chase free PR coverage
As with most things, the best kind of PR coverage is the free kind. What’s more, 80% of consumers are more likely to take notice of free, organic content than paid advertising. While it may sound too good to be true, free PR opportunities shouldn’t be too hard to come by as long as you’re producing quality content and are being consistently bold in your approach.
Creating newsworthy stories is vital in attracting interest from larger publishers, so take the time to brainstorm ideas that are unique and of genuine value to the audience. Keep an eye on the latest trends and make an effort to engage with popular culture when compiling ideas for content, as intertextual references can help to get your content noticed by entirely new audiences. Consider creating some relevant infographics to share alongside your content and be relentless in your attempt to generate a buzz around your story. If you’re stuck for ideas, we recommend taking a look at Contagious by Jonah Berger. The book features advice on how to successfully combine fresh content ideas with targeted promotion and is a great read for those working with a tighter budget.
Create eye-catching branded content
We recently discussed the value of creating your own visual content and this is something that becomes even more important for smaller brands and businesses. If you want to stand out, the loud and proud approach is the best way to make sure that your content remains visible amongst a sea of competitors. Electronics company Blendtec are a proven example of how creating something different can get you noticed. The success of their unique YouTube series ‘Will It Blend?’ has attracted 907,000 subscribers to the channel as of May 2016 - and the low-budget, viral videos led sales to increase by a whopping 700% from 2006 to 2009.
Gaining initial interest from your target audience is vital, as is making sure that they remember you for the future. Your company name, logo and strap line are all a part of that process, so choose your style and colour scheme wisely. A great example of this is Ryanair, whose eye-catching blue and yellow branding has enabled them to build a brand that is instantly recognisable within the travel industry.
Case study: CruiseDeals.co.uk
Budget travel brand CruiseDeals.co.uk are a proven success story when it comes to building a brand on a budget. We recently conducted research into the cost of taking up residence on a luxury cruise ship and figures showed that living at sea for a year is cheaper than living in London.
From this data, we created a press release that was distributed to a wide range of journalists and publishers. We helped CruiseDeals.co.uk to secure a significant level of coverage in the national press, building trusting relationships with some major publications in the process, including the Daily Mail, the Express and UniLad.
If you’re keen to learn more about raising awareness of your brand on a budget, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
The use of images is essential when it comes to social media – so it makes sense that a platform focused entirely on sharing images has quickly become an important part of the marketing mix.
Since Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 its user numbers have skyrocketed to more than 400m a month, creating an enormous resource for all kinds of marketers. Since it’s English Tourism Week and Ad-Rank are big fans of travelling, we thought we’d take our inspiration for this week’s blog from English tourist boards, looking at how they’re using the platform and integrating it into successful social media campaigns (click on images to enlarge).
User generated content
This is one of the great things about Instagram – you don’t have to spend lots time and resources creating great content. On Instagram it’s already there, and users love to share it. Lots of English tourist boards (like Visit Kent, below) encourage users to generate content for them using competitions, the promise of regrams and the clever use of hashtags – all of which we’ll come on to later. Of course tourist boards do generate significant amounts of their own content, but often it won’t be as interesting or genuine as images and videos created by the public. Affection for a landmark, landscape or county can come across much more strongly when the camera’s in an amateur’s hands.
Give someone else the reins
That said, a common tactic within tourist board social media campaigns is to let either professional photographers or Instagram-savvy locals take over their account for a few days and document their travels. This creates content with more of a narrative than brand posts, and audiences respond to it very well. Visit Bath regularly use this strategy to generate a lot of excellent content, not just through images but also the accompanying text and the interactions they generate.
However, great content on Instagram isn’t worth much if it’s not seen by many people. Which brings us to…
There’s a real art behind an effective hashtag. Finding the right one to maximise your reach requires a real feel for social media. Twitter users will understand this – get your hashtag just right and you’ll see retweets you never thought possible. It’s the same with Instagram and there’s a constant battle to find hashtags that gain real traction.
Visit Wiltshire has done very well with its branded #timeforwiltshire campaign, the success of which went towards their topping of the inaugural English Tourism Social Media Index.
Tagging images with popular hashtags – Visit London recently tagged an image with #foodporn – can get content in front of new audiences and contribute to building follower numbers. Spotting trends and taking advantage of them is key, and clever social media marketers are always looking for the next thing to unexpectedly take Instagram by storm.
Add a competition
The National Trust is one example of an organisation using competitions as part of their marketing strategy on Instagram. Using the hashtag #NTchallenge they get users to provide content for them, effectively turning followers and supporters into marketers. Setting a theme and sharing the best images tagged gets users engaged and builds on the National Trust’s brand, which comes across as friendly and inclusive. Visit Cornwall has also run a competition, the prize for which was a luxury stay with St Maws retreat.
Rolling competitions, where the prize is simply your image being shared with large numbers of followers, are a great way of reaching out to users and creates a community of content-generators. Competitions with high-value prizes, on the other hand, are a good opportunity to combine social media with PR.
Get in on the action
The kinds of calls to action used by tourist boards on Instagram are normally to do with using hashtags and the promise of a regram – something the average Instagram user really values, because it can boost their own follower numbers. Visit Cornwall says ‘use #loveCornwall and we’ll regram our favourites’ in its bio, while Visit Wiltshire has ‘tag #timeforWiltshire to give us permission to repost’ in its profile. Both are subtle CTAs with a great exchange – exposure for amateur photographers and the free generation of excellent content for the tourist boards.
Instagram’s combination of being image-focussed and driven by hashtags makes it an ideal platform for marketers trying to drive tourists to their attractions. In spite of its popularity (it now has more users than Twitter), not all tourist boards have woken up to the power of Instagram yet – get with it, English Heritage – but we’re expecting this to change in the year ahead. With so many opportunities for travel marketers to share a wealth of beautiful images with a huge audience, how could they not get involved?
A call to action is a marketer's best friend, especially on social media. What's the point in creating great content if you don't actually encourage people to use it?
A 'call to action' is exactly what it sounds like: a 'call' for people to perform some 'action'. This can come in the form of 'sign up now' buttons on websites or, on social media, taglines urging people to click on the links you've provided. To break it down, calls to action convert users into a leads, with the potential of that lead becoming a customer. And above all, you're bringing people to your website.
Calls to action are important in marketing campaigns because they create a sense of urgency for the potential customer to act now. Without them, your content is just an idea, and without leading people to take that extra step, they're not likely to act at all.
The best calls to action are direct and straightforward, though there's lots of wiggle room to get creative. 'Book your cruise now.' 'Share this post.' You can even make things interesting by adding an incentive: 'Buy now and save 50%' or 'Retweet for the chance to win.' Most importantly, your call to action needs an imperative verb: 'click' or 'order' or 'sign-up.' Something the consumer can instantly do, instead of just think about.
Effective calls to action generate mobilisation in a clean and concise way. There are a lot of different approaches when crafting your own, but here are some top tips to consider:
Make it actionable
This might seem like a no-brainer, but the absolute, most important thing to include in a call to action is the action. You are directly telling people what you'd like them to do with the link you're providing, in hopes that they will do it. The people at the City of Alexandria, Virginia would like those perusing their Twitter feed to request a Visitors Guide so they can find out more about the city of Alexandria and potentially come over for a visit. Sound simple? That's because it is!
Directly address your reader
Nobody wants to feel like just another face in the crowd, especially on social media. That's why speaking directly to your customers as 'you' or 'your' makes it seem like you aren't just shouting out a blanket statement into the void. Sainsbury’s call to action specifically addresses the consumer with 'you' to let them know just who they're asking to perform this certain task. It gets the reader thinking about the question posed, and how it relates to them, making the call to action feel more personal.
Make it timely
The American brand Target's call to action below combines both timeliness (they're urging people to purchase new televisions in preparation for the upcoming Super Bowl) and urgency to get people to buy within the next three days, before the 10% deals expire. Not tomorrow, next week, or next month. Providing people with a time frame makes it so that they aren't left endlessly mulling over their options. Adding words like 'now' and 'today' at the end of your call to action also helps to create the feeling that the consumer will need to act sooner rather than later, and that the pay-off of this specific action is immediate.
The use of a shortened URL also allows users to easily to share the link across social media - users just need to type that short link to share it with their friends.
Keep it short and sweet
Okay, so not every campaign is going to be as easy as convincing Harry Potter fans to buy the new J.K. Rowling book, but the idea here is that calls to action can (and should be) short, sweet and uncomplicated, especially on platforms like Twitter, where characters are limited. You don't necessarily need to dilute your message with gimmicks and explanations, just a straightforward action you'd like people to perform. Here, Waterstones is simply urging people to 'pre-order' the brand new Harry Potter book for half price, coupled with a photo of the book cover to get them excited. It's easy and successful.
Everybody loves a little added treat – and if people are going to get something extra (even if it's just hypothetical savings they wouldn't get from booking or buying on another site) if they follow your call to action, say so! If you follow the link and sign up for Birchbox, you're going to receive an exclusive bronzer ahead of the crowds. Those customers who were on the fence before might teeter more readily onto your side if they know up front what they're going to get and what you can do for them. And if something is free to do—ie 'our free giveaway' or 'our free-to-enter contest'—shout it from the rooftops.
Not seeing conversions from your calls to action? We can help you craft the perfect marketing message, so your readers become customers – just drop us a line to find out how.
You see it everywhere at this time of year: romantic cards, heart-shaped chocolate boxes, over-the-top helium balloons and extortionate restaurant prices – all because the Great British high street wants to take advantage of Valentine’s Day.
But it’s not just the Hallmarks and Clintons of the world gearing up for the big day. Fashion brands, cinemas, supermarkets and amusement parks are all joining in with the festivities, hoping to benefit from the romantic side of us.
And while some marketing campaigns tug on our heart strings, make us sigh and swoon and think of our loved ones, others seem the exact opposite effect; we cringe, gag and thank God that we’re still single so don’t have to be sucked into the ridiculousness of Valentine’s Day.
2016 seems to be a year of getting to grips with decent Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns, but still, some companies may never learn. Here our best and worst for 2016…
Starting off on a good note is 20th Century Fox’s banner for the upcoming Marvel film Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds stars as one of the most unconventional anti-heroes imaginable as he takes revenge on the man who destroyed his life. Needless to say, it’s not exactly the heartfelt rom.com your girlfriend was hoping for. 20th Century Fox has a bit of fun with this V-Day themed ad, suggesting that it might be a romantic flick – inviting those-in-the-know to laugh at the in-joke.
Tesco’s also been having a bit of fun with the upcoming festivities, as their employees set up some unusual displays. Also spotted around the stores were ‘Ideal for Valentine’s Day’ signs near the cucumbers and squirty cream… This may get a chuckle from some shoppers, but it’s been getting a few complaints – particularly as it’s a family friendly chain. “Mummy, why would you need a cucumber for Valentine’s day?” – need we say more?
Do you have a Marmite lover in the house? If so, this marketing campaign might be aimed at you and your significant other. Marmite is running limited edition Valentine’s Day themed jars that customers can personalise for the big day. Put your partner’s name on the top and choose from the two slogans: ‘Love me or hate me, I’m yours’, or Will you be my Valentine?’ Where the ‘yeast extract’ description normally appears, the words ‘a pot of love’ have been added. Enjoy your romantic breakfast in bed with some decadent Marmite on toast… or not.
House of Fraser
It’s safe to say that House of Fraser’s Valentine’s Day 2016 campaign got a bit out of control this week. They started an ‘emojinal’ rampage on Twitter by plastering emojis all over celebrity photos – all in the name of being emotional for February 14th. Well, it certainly caught the public’s attention, with many Twitter users wondering if the account had been hacked, especially when a picture of a peach was plastered over Kim Kardashian’s booty with Kanye’s hand on it, and the caption reading ‘Practice what you peach Kanye’. All publicity is good publicity but a reputable brand like House of Fraser should probably look into hiring a social media consultant…
Warner Bros. Studio Tours
Harry Potter fanatics can start hyperventilating now. Warner Bros. Studios Tour in London has been advertising a bewitching Valentine’s Day three-course meal for Muggles in the Great Hall. Promoted using striking imagery, the promise of drinks at Platform 9 ¾ and your own wand at the end of the night, it was bound to get mega Harry Potter fans all flustered. But you’d better have some spare cash lying around: the experience will set you back a whopping £500. In spite of the price tag, this Valentine’s Day marketing campaign has paid off – this spellbinding meal sold out very quickly.
Just when you thought Facebook couldn’t infiltrate any other part of our already social-media-laden lives, it’s at it again – this time with the launch of Facebook Live.
Entering the space previously dominated by Periscope and Meerkat, Facebook introduced its livestreaming video service to all US iOS users in January, having previously released the tool to verified brand pages in December. Global and Android coverage is due to roll out in the next few weeks too – and it’s guaranteed to have a massive impact on marketing around the world.
First things first, it’ll mean that livestream will become mainstream. Whereas relatively few brands are currently making use of Periscope and the like, marketers will be forced to pay attention to livestreaming and consider how to add it to the marketing mix. That’s mostly because it will be far more noticeable to the general public, appearing in front of Facebook’s 1.59 billion monthly active users – far more than Twitter’s (and thus Periscope’s potential) 320 million monthly users.
And Facebook Live also has some nifty tools that set it apart from the likes of Twitter-owned Periscope too. So while you won’t get the cute little hearts appearing on your screen as people like your live broadcast, there’s a whole raft of features that set it apart.
Go where the people are
Perhaps most significantly, livestream footage will appear directly in News Feeds, so your fans can discover the stream as it happens, even if they missed any promotional activity. Then – as with Periscope – when they click to watch the footage, you’ll be able to see who’s tuned in and answer their comments in real-time too.
Plus, viewers can subscribe to the livestream feeds there and then, unlike Periscope, which just follows the account on Twitter for you. This makes ongoing relationships with brand pages as simple as possible – and subscribing will also mean that users are notified when you’re next on air, rather than relying on them seeing your go-live tweet in their feeds.
And perhaps, most importantly, the videos are recorded for all time and saved like a regular Facebook video, not just for 24 hours, as with Periscope. That means your fans can return to the recording time and again – and it can be distributed and shared in the months and years after the original broadcast, giving your footage an extended lifespan.
Facebook vs YouTube
Notably, Facebook Live also throws further shade onto Google-owned YouTube, reducing the likelihood of people using YouTube’s Live service. Facebook has already claimed to have overtaken YouTube for the number of videos watched each day (although those stats are to be viewed with scepticism), and this is like to have an even greater impact on those figures. If most of your audience are daily Facebook users, why wouldn’t marketers broadcast to Facebook first, rather than sending people to an external channel like YouTube?
With so much hanging in the balance, we’re eagerly awaiting the launch of Facebook Live in the UK, not only so we can experiment with it (follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss it) but so we can see how livestreaming develops and evolves over the coming year.
The bells have barely struck midnight, so there couldn’t be a better time to take a look into our crystal ball and make some social media predictions for the future.
Of course, it wouldn’t be right to start without a mention of the past 12 months. 2015 saw rapid changes in the world of social media, with new channels appearing on the scene and growing at an astonishing rate (hello, Periscope). Plus, as organic reach on Facebook declined, marketers have had to find new ways of grabbing their audience’s attention.
The rate of change looks set to continue in 2016, providing no rest for marketing teams. Here’s our take on how the year will play out.
Content marketing and social media collide
Most savvy marketers have already added social media in their content marketing strategies, but the less perceptive will need to get on board this year.
That’s because several big social networks launched their own publishing platforms in 2015. They did so to keep users on their sites, instead of clicking away to other publishers, boosting their own visitor numbers.
Facebook Instant Articles, LinkedIn Pulse and Twitter Moments and the like will force marketers to consider where to publish their content. It looks likely that 2016 will be the year that brands start to share to social first. If you could potentially reach one billion users with one Instant Article on Facebook, why would you publish it to your website first?
Live streaming and video marketing will continue to grow in 2016, with marketers using the likes of Periscope and Blab to share events as they happen. A huge 10 million people already have Periscope accounts and that figure is increasing month on month.
With so many developments in live streaming, we reckon that marketers will see this as an opportunity to start their own efforts – especially on Facebook.
Focus on the visual
The rapid growth of Instagram points to a trend for visual content that’s quick and easy to consume. By creating and editing inspirational images on a mobile device, it's not hard to see why the platform is so popular.
And as the Facebook-owned network rolls out a host of advanced tools, like Layout and Boomerang, it can only be that Instagram use will increase, for brands as well as individuals.
Instagram advertising will also be on marketers’ hit lists for 2016. With more than 400 million users, Instagram is a great place to get your products and services in front of new and existing audiences. And with the introduction of Shop Now buttons in 2015, it will be easier than ever to get your audience to spend their money if your content is effective. Plus, you'll be able to identify a clear return on investment to boot.
Pinterest, the other big player in the visual marketing field, reported that there are now more than 60 million buyable pins on the platform. We expect to see that figure grow in 2016, as marketers look to monetise their visual content.
Twitter also launched Buy Now buttons in September 2015. While we feel that marketers will dabble in this, but it remains to be seen whether it will become as mainstream as Instagram or Pinterest advertising.
The next generation
We also predict that marketers will start to explore new channel as a way to grow their audiences, especially with young people.
Although there are no recent stats about the number of Snapchat users, it’s estimated to be in the 200 million mark. Agile marketers will already be looking at how to use the self-destructing videos in the year ahead, especially if they want to reach millennials.
And while many marketers might sneer at targeting young people, it’s worth bearing in mind that people born in 2000 will turn 16 this year and start entering the workplace. Their buying power should be ignored at marketers’ peril. By carefully targeting them on the channels they use the most, marketers can start building relationships for the future.
On the move
As we mentioned in our look back at 2015, smartphone usage has exploded. People are using their phones to go online more than ever – especially to check in on social media activity. Marketers need to find new ways to secure their audience’s attention, even when they’re on the move. From striking visuals and snackable content to compelling videos and engaging updates, marketeers will have to innovate more than ever to stay ahead of the competition and maintain their following.
Of course, these are only our main predictions. With so many social media channels, we couldn’t cover them all. We’d love to hear what you think will be the biggest changes over the coming year – why not share them with us on Twitter or LinkedIn?