Social media lessons from Arabian Travel Market 2015

Shane Dallas

Though it is after 5pm, I look out from the stage where I am speaking and notice that every seat of the theatre is occupied, and people are even standing two and three deep at the back of the venue. What is it that drew so many people to such a session at this late hour of the day? It was Social Media.

The interest extended beyond the speaking stage. Arabian Travel Market attendees would send me questions via Twitter, email or stop me whilst I wandered around the stands at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre. Though the keen interest in Social Media was widespread, many of these questions and concerns could be narrowed to a few key points. Knowing your voice was covered in a recent post by fellow Arabian Travel Market speaker Samantha Dancy, and that, along with these three points, were the lessons I observed from being a speaker on Social Media at the 2015 Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.

Social Media is more than numbers: Many involved in Social Media are focused purely on their number of followers, but Social Media is more than that. If you are only after followers, then the easiest way to obtain them is to buy them. However, this is a total waste of money, for the key facet of Social Media is not followers but engagement. How many people are liking your posts, commenting or sharing? With this engagement comes influence – and it is the quality of followers and their engagement levels rather than numbers that should be your measure.

Concentrate your Social Media efforts: There is no need to have a presence on every Social Media platform; not only is it unnecessary but it is unwieldy. It is better to concentrate on a handful of platforms then to spread yourself thinly, so strive to excel in one or two Social Media platforms than to have a mediocre presence on many. Find which Social Media platforms are most popular with your target audience and work on those. Personally, I limit myself to four – Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram. YouTube is an excellent platform too, but I hardly shoot video at present.

Build quality content before building your network: One of the biggest errors on Social Media is attempting to build a following as quickly as possible. However, if you manage to grab someone's attention on Social Media and your content is poor, you will fail to convert that interest into engagement. Before building your network ensure that you have enough content to entice people to interact with you. Have a completed profile and sprinkle your account with good quality posts – then launch yourself onto Social Media. Having an incomplete or inadequate profile will not benefit your brand, nor will it attract a loyal and engaged following. You only have one chance to create a good impression.

Those in the travel industry are rightly concerned whether their Social Media is effective and whether they are utilising it correctly. Social Media is a powerful marketing tool for the travel industry, but establishing a presence and influence on Social Media is a series of numerous small steps. Building such a reputation takes time in the physical world, and it also takes time in the virtual world too. If your travel business is not involved in Social Media, you are missing an important opportunity.

Please feel free to connect with me on Twitter at @TheTravelCamel ( if you have any further questions or comments about Social Media. Hope to see you at the Arabian Travel Market in April 2016!

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