A social media platform from the biggest search engine is always going to be a success. Although Google Plus user numbers are still nowhere near the number on Facebook, it actually now surpasses Twitter. There are over 500 million active users of Google+ so it begs the question why more brands place more of a focus on keeping an active Twitter following than maintaining an engaging Google+ Account. The travel industry has the scope to create and share a wide range of content. Relying largely on visuals, it is essential that any platform used can support this need. Google+ is ideal for this purpose. We’ve looked at British brand Destinology’s Google+ account as an example of how to use the platform well & spoke to Lindsay, Destinology’s SEO Executive about why she thinks it’s important…
A picture tells a thousand words and you can’t sell a holiday without images. People want to see the hotels and destinations before they commit. Destinology has over 1.3 million followers on Google Plus and garners hundreds of shares on many of the images they share. Lindsay comments, “Everyone appreciates stunning worldwide luxury travel images and we have a lot that we can feature.” Destinology is a luxury brand, so not every user sharing their photos is going to buy a holiday but it’s about more than direct sales. “People love to like, comment and share images that are striking and inspiring”, and Destinology have established themselves as a source for those who want to. Social media is not all about direct sales and using it to engage with people is extremely important as a brand. It’s also important to offer prospective customers as much information as possible and make use of all the tools you have available. Destinology for example recently teamed up with Google Maps and introduced virtual tours of some of the hotels they offer stays in, allowing users to actually explore the hotel step by step from anywhere in the world.
Alongside imagery, some of the most engaging content is video based. A recent study showed that on Google+ in particular, engagement rates could be up to 28% higher with posts including videos. As Google and YouTube share an owner they’re set up to slot together easily. This integration allows users to easily view videos and avoids any playback issues, something Destinology have taken advantage of, “We have our YouTube account linked to the Google Plus page, which helps people trust our brand and gives them more content to view all in one place.”
Having a well maintained Google+ account can have SEO and marketing benefits for your site as Google recognises +1s on your posts as a signal that you’re producing good content that people are engaging with. And although, as previously mentioned, the platform isn’t solely focused on direct advertising; it can be useful, “For advertisers who run campaigns on Google, having a presence on Google+ can help increase brand presence and unity.”
A feature that Destinology and most other travel providers are yet to fully utilise is Google Maps capability for ‘local recommendations.’ Traditionally when travelling abroad people would buy guide books or ask for friends recommendations however, now travellers may check online first. When looking in any given area on google Maps, businesses show up and offer you the chance to review or +1 a location. This is undoubtedly a feature the travel industry should take advantage of. In doing so they are giving followers a richer relationship with the brand and giving valuable information but also encouraging them to submit their own recommendations and promote an engaged community.
Although Google+ is definitely well suited to visual industries like travel, it’s really a resource which any business should take advantage of it. As Lindsay puts it, “Who knows what Google will do next but I do think they will want to push Google Plus as far as they can and brands should be using it as much as possible now.”
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