Flagship Presents: Mobile & Live Social Media at WTM

16th November 2016 by Kevin Mullaney

At World Travel Market 2016 Flagship Consulting was asked to contribute to Traverse’s panel discussion on ‘Mobile and Live Social Media’; a theme that is disrupting travel buying now, and looks set to continue to do so in the coming year.

Although mobile, social media and video aren’t new; their combined impact will be transforming travel marketing strategies in the coming years.

So here is a roundup of our presentation which explores why you should be taking video seriously in 2017.

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2015 was ‘the year of mobile’ where we reached a historic milestone, for the first time spending more time on mobile devices than at our computers. This important transition has profoundly changed customer behaviour as the power to research, compare, review and book now lies with the buyer. This means the buyer can make their own path to purchase and bypass traditional brand marketing.

In the travel sector, the shift to smartphones has been even more acute, with recent research from Google suggesting that 87% of digital ‘moments’, that happen in the travel buying process, are now done on a mobile device.

This means brands need to better understand their customers, in order to show up at the right moments along the path they choose to take, adding value along the way. As we move from big to small screens travel buyers are increasingly demanding video to inform their decisions, with customers being four times more likely to watch a video than read about a product (increasing to 75% for millennials).

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As travel is becoming increasing mobile, it is also inherently becoming more social. On average we belong to five social networks, spending a total of one hour forty minutes across these platforms a day.

Whilst searching and browsing online we are constantly brought back to social through notifications and messages from friends. Whether knowingly or not, we are being influenced by our friends’ travel experiences – the majority of us are guilty of sharing our holiday snaps and memories, which in turn provides inspiration to our friends when thinking about their own holidays.

And, as we consider our travel options we naturally reach out to friends for recommendations and the ‘social proof’ that we are making the right choices. A staggering 90% of travel buyers admit that social media directly influences their travel buying decisions, making social the constant force behind our travel planning.

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Of all the social networks Facebook is the most powerful of all, monopolising around 55 minutes of our time every day. Travel brands in particular enjoy an engaged audience, with 48% of Facebook users choosing to follow travel brands to get updates, announcements and offers.

However in the last few years the Facebook algorithm has moved away from branded content, in favour of showing more personal updates from friends on a timeline. As a result brands’ reach has declined by a whopping 60% in just two years, meaning that every brand post now only reaches 6-10% of your audience, despite them being hungry for your content.

As a result many brands are forced to pay for the same reach they once enjoyed. But luckily the algorithm is providing a new opportunity for travel brands in the redemption of video.

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Due to the aforementioned rise of mobile and the subsequent demand for video, Mark Zuckerberg, has publically claimed that the future of his network is in video, which will dominate news feeds in the coming five years. This is also echoed by research from Cisco which predicts that 82% of all online consumer internet traffic will be video by 2020.

So the writing is on the wall and travel brands best take heed!

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But Mr. Zuckerberg’s interest in video isn’t purely altruistic. He, along with the other social networks, have watched YouTube’s profits balloon to $9 billion a year, which is more than the entire ad revenue of all the social networks combined!

As a result, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat all realise that video isn’t just what customers want but that it is also the ultimate ad unit and, whoever controls the greatest social viewership won’t just have more money in the bank but will establish a future media empire to rival TV.

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To achieve this Facebook must make its platform the de facto destination where people consume, and share, video content.

But first they need the unique video content which will keep consumers attention. In their desperation to encourage video uploads directly to Facebook they are giving a juicy incentive to brands in the form of ten times greater reach over text, image and YouTube video posts.

As a result video can be the antidote to the declining reach seen across Facebook in the last couple of years. If travel brands embrace video, whilst playing Facebook at their own game, they will more than recoup that lost reach. Even more significantly, as consumers share 75% more video year on year, they are likely to actually gain visibility beyond their core audience.

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For travel brands video is the gift that keeps on giving, with Facebook Live broadcasts trumping all other forms of content on the network. With the goal of becoming a media empire, Facebook has struck deals with over 150 high-profile publishers such as The Economist, Huffington Post and New York Times to generate an exclusive, newsworthy network which disrupts traditional media.

But publisher deals alone won’t win the day and Facebook has even resorted to TV advertising to encourage brands and users to ‘go live’ as much as possible, continually feeding the video frenzy.

The beauty of going live for travel brands means that you won’t just be top of the ‘news feed’, and reach more users, but there is also the benefit of essentially free advertising as followers are notified of your broadcasts. In turn, live video views are three times longer and generate ten times the engagement because real-time audiences feel part of a unique moment whilst having the ability to interact and influence a discussion like never before.

To conclude, with the rise of mobile travel brands need to better understand what their audiences want, how to reach them in the right moments along the path to purchase. Whilst doing so they should ensure they deliver a blend of light touch inspiration, practical information and offers to get them over the purchasing tipping point.

You should ensure that video is front of mind in the coming year and as you bake video into your strategies it should work alongside your overall content calendar, complementing, not taking it over completely.

Finally, you need to be where your audiences are, particularly when considering social. If you are fortunate enough for that to be Facebook then make sure to upload your videos and broadcasts on the network first to gain the extra reach incentives it offers. From there you can download your videos and spread them across your other social channels and YouTube, multiplying the impact of every piece of video content.

Below you will find the entire presentation and Facebook Live video of the session from World Travel Market.

 

 

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