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It’s True: Size Matters

Especially at a gay travel marketing conference

Though I’m based in NYC, not even Hurricane Sandy could keep me from the 13th Annual International Conference on Gay and Lesbian Tourism in San Francisco.  Especially since my presentation was cheekily titled “Size Matters,” and I didn’t want to disappoint the crowd.  But you don’t have to be waving a rainbow flag to benefit from the tips I dispensed about growing fan bases on social media channels like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

For travel marketers, social media is playing an increasingly important role in attracting customers.  Really, that should come as no surprise.  Word of mouth recommendations have long been the #1 driver of bookings in travel—and now social media just acts like a megaphone for those recommendations.  According to a study last year, 52% of Facebook users say seeing a friends’ vacation pictures inspired them to book a trip to that place (, 2011).  And gays are no exception!  A study by CMI, the producers of the conference, revealed that 1 in 4 LGBT travelers say they’re influenced by social media when booking, and nearly 3 out of 4 post trip updates and pictures on Facebook.

But how to grow that ever important fan base (gay or straight)?  Here are some recent strategies we’ve found successful:

Personality Quiz Contest on Facebook.  Rather than a “straight” up sweepstakes, personality quizzes add a level of engagement with consumers that if done right, they will share with their friends.  During a recent project with JDV Hotels, 39% of our entries shared their quiz results to their network on Twitter and Facebook.   As a result, 12% of our entries came from that share—a group we wouldn’t have tapped into with a regular contest.  Caveat: personality quizzes have to be funny!  Let one of our comedic on staff writers assist.

Photo Contests on Facebook.  Tired of dredging up all the same photos on file?  Let your fans do the heavy lifting.  Ask them for their photos in a like-gated contest and encourage voting to find a winner.  One of the best things about a photo contest—you can acquire the rights of all entries for future usage on the page.  Caveat: you do need to moderate the photos before they are posted to your page, but we can help with that!

Pin-It-To-Win-It Contest on Pinterest.  Require fans to follow your Pinterest account, then set up a special series of boards with a specific title.  Then have them repin a series of boards from your page.  Once they’ve done that have them enter the url on a like-gated contest tab on Facebook.  Voila!  Increase in both Facebook and Pinterest followers.  Caveat: customers may start leaving comments on your boards that need responses—we can help with that!

Of course, we all know that size isn’t the only thing that matters.  Your technique (e.g. engagement) also has to be good.  We’ll leave that to another lesson.

JP Buchmeyer, VP Digital Engagement, @jpbuchmeyer

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