JB Communications presents to Mid South Women in Tourism (MSWIT) on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jacquie Bonano, owner of JB Communications, LLC and Shop Local Nola, discusses the sheer necessity of social media and the love/hate relationship businesses have with outlets such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. The good news is that billions of people use social media every day to discover new restaurants, stores, services, and tourist destinations. With the right tools, social media can be a powerful and cost-effective marketing ally.  

The Facebook Outage

On October 4, 2021 Facebook suffered a worldwide outage for six hours. It also affected Instagram and WhatsApp. While Facebook lost millions in ad revenue and employee lost time at work, it also had a profound effect on many small businesses. There are some businesses that rely on this social media family to market their business and communicate with customers. Rather than investing in a company website, select companies will use Facebook instead.

Businesses Love / Hate Relationship with Social Media

Before we review why social media is a necessity for businesses and building business relationships, let’s discuss why many businesses and consumers hate it so much. It can be time consuming, overwhelming, stressful, frustrating, and manipulative. There’s a lot of bullying, false accusations, and rumors that make their way through the networks. For a business, social media is primarily an investment in time, and money to manage it properly. So why should a business even hop on the social media bandwagon?

Quite simply, with 81% of US adults utilizing YouTube and 69% actively on Facebook, businesses must invest in social media.

Social media is where consumers spend a huge amount of time scrolling and engaging with content. Research has revealed that in 2020, the average adult spent 3 hours a day on social media. This is in comparison to 90 minutes in 2012. (Uswitch.com). While YouTube has a larger number of users, Facebook dominates in usage. Americans spend an average of 58 minutes per day on Facebook. That’s 325 hours a year! The chart below is a representation of how often Americans are using some of the more popular platforms. While not listed below, LinkedIn accounts for only 17 minutes a day.

News Consumption and Social Media

While it is no secret that consumers spend a lot of time on social media. It is interesting to take a look at what they are spending their time viewing on social media. Aside from the obvious, keeping up with connections and engaging with brands, news has become extremely important. Studies report that nearly half of Americans regularly receive their news on social media (pew.org). Nearly a third of them use Facebook, followed by YouTube at 22 percent. Interestingly, even though there is a high concentration of social media in this respect, there is not a high confidence level in its accuracy.

Why is this important to a tourism professional? Because over the past 18 months, news of shutdowns, Covid hospitalizations and restrictions, crime, natural disasters, and other negative factors have hindered travel. If consumers are looking to social media for news, travel and leisure, it is important that you align your business and help direct the narrative.

Social Media and Tourism

Social media appears to have a huge impact on where and how we travel. Consumers are interested in tourism and approximately 60% turn to social media for inspiration and planning. More than 40% use Facebook to find travel destinations (valuepenguin.com). It’s important for the travel industry to communicate and engage with potential tourists. It is also a place to control your narrative, tell your story, and share positive experiences. Monitoring your reputation is also another key factor.

Social Media Tips

Here are a few tips to help you navigate social media for you and your business:

  • Identify your target demographics and focus on the respective platforms.
  • Do not rely on one platform.
  • Create your own hashtag for your brand. Research and utilize additional trending hashtags.
  • Tag people or brands that are relevant to your post. It essentially links them to your post
  • Utilize pixel or tracking plugins on your website to collect data for conversion tracking, remarketing, and building audiences for future ads
  • Plan ahead. Prepare engaging content on monthly basis and adjust the content based on the medium.
  • Improve your organic reach by joining groups and sharing your content. You can even create your own group.
  • Encourage reviews from satisfied customers. Share the positive reviews on a regular basis.
  • Engage with other people and vendors by leaving comments or contributing to a post.
  • Use the tools and features of varying social media to expand your organic reach, such as Facebook Events, LinkedIn Live, or Instagram Reels.
  • Reputation Management. Respond to positive and negative engagement. Don’t forget to monitor your branded hashtag.