Anyone need a holiday? Yes, us too. But it's looking unlikely. However there’s a whole travel and tourism industry both at home and away, that need our help. And many of them are still doing their job online, and inspiring us to look forwards to better times and sunnier climes. Booking.com’s social media presence is a lesson in inspiration, influencers and excellent engagement on a jumbo jet scale.

But Booking.com’s approach is something anyone can pack in their social media suitcase. Take a tour to find out how you can learn from them and learn how to apply the same tactics, using the Maybe* 10 steps framework.

Step 1: What was the business goal?

Like all travel businesses, Booking.com need to secure bookings from those hoping to travel overseas or close to home in the distant future.

Track your own business goals in the Maybe* platform

Step 2: Telling the Booking.com story

While travel is not allowed, the business needs to keep inspiring and creating a sense of wanderlust to keep travellers engaged.

As a leader in the travel sector, Booking.com is using this time to lend its expertise to thought leadership content, share the winners of its awards and invite conversation and feedback from its community.

This technique is all about creating hope and anticipation. Do this with your own content. It creates a feel good factor and generates positive engagement from people who want to dream about something to look forwards to.

Step 3: What do Booking.com want its audience to do

With international travel a distant memory, and no guarantees for our Summer holidays this year, Booking.com wants customers to be inspired to travel locally and engage with its #explorenextdoor campaign. This is a fantastic opportunity for customers and businesses to share what they love about their local place to attract tourism and business, when the time comes.

You can mimic this approach yourself by adding this hashtag to your own content alongside the #supportlocal and #shoplocal tags

The Maybe* what’s being said report for Booking.com showing the content created by Booking.com and the engagement with it

Step 4: How does Booking.com engage with customers?

The business wants people to still share their love of travel. So it is actively asking customers to write love letters to the cities and places they miss. This is a great example of a brand taking user content, and then resharing it across their own feeds.

Maybe* dedicates a whole section of the dashboard for you to respond to customer messages and engage with their content. You’ll find it on the right of your Maybe* dashboard.

The Maybe* dashboard view showing Booking.com comments and mentions they need to respond to

Step 5: Who does Booking.com want to engage?

Booking.com' customers are likely to span many demographics and in several different countries so they aim to reach a wide audience.

The travel sector is ripe for influencer partnerships, or identifying envy evoking content from the well travelled. The Maybe* Who’s got Influencer report shows who is creating content about Booking.com, but it can also be used to identify influencers in a certain conversation like the #explorenextdoor conversation.

You can replicate this by building relationships with the influencers or finding content to share on your own channels via Maybe*.

The Maybe* who’s got influence report showing the conversation influencers creating the most content about Booking.com in February

Step 6: Where do Booking.com need to engage and how did they do it successfully?

Booking.com is active across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Content is replicated across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram though typically you’ll see the brand having more conversations of a customer service nature on Twitter.

Responding and engaging with the customer conversation about the brand is a top priority. Understanding the sentiment of that conversation for Booking.com helps them prioritise negative customer feedback or customers who may have a travel concern that needs immediate attention. It can also help the business get a jump on feedback about any of their partner accommodation, suppliers and even spot any crisis issues which may be escalating.

You can measure and track your sentiment with Maybe*. It will help you prioritise the conversations about your brand that you need to intervene in, and help you turn bad customer experiences into more positive ones.

The Maybe* how they feel report for Booking.com showing the sentiment of the conversation about Booking.com

Step 7: Who or what else are your customers distracted by and interested in?

Booking.com knows that its customers are in desperate need of some escapism. And while that might not be able to happen physically, at the moment, it's a mood the business can create virtually.

The business knows that many a traveler will be looking to travel domestically rather than abroad for the foreseeable future, and it also knows there are increased concerns about health and safety cancellation policies. Booking.com wants people to get the practical support they need through this time. The business wants its customers to be informed so it makes sure the latest and most accurate information is pinned to the top of its Facebook page.

The business also knows that having to cancel trips can be deeply personal, weddings might need to be rearranged, families might be being kept from one another, and so landing the tone of its customer service responses is imperative.

If you are handling a high number of customer queries as a result of Covid, remember they might be more emotional in nature than usual. Be personal and human, and handle each response personally. Remember to engage with empathy.

Step 8: Mastering advertising

Maybe* is on hand to help you advertise easily and cost efficiently.

How can you do this? Well you can connect your own advertising account really easily using Maybe*. You can spend as little as £1 a day, so don’t think advertising is only for big brands with big budgets.

See how to connect and manage your advertising

If you’re using advertising on Facebook and Instagram, your audience insights will really help inform who you should target.

You can create three different types of audience within the Facebook Ads manager. Let’s break them down.

Saved - this is easy. This is basically a cold audience, one that has perhaps never come across you before. This audience type allows you to add behavioural and interest targeting; gender and demographic information. So if you want to advertise to women between 25-35 who are interested in other travel brands, then you can do that.

Custom- A custom audience allows you to take your Facebook page and Instagram page and build an audience based on who and how it's been engaged with. Booking.com could use this to retarget any customers who have engaged with them online, with ads to sell products.

Lookalike - this is the clever stuff. Made easy. So let’s say you have created a custom audience from your engagement data. A lookalike is where you take a custom audience (and you can only do it on custom audiences) and say find me the top 1% of people who match my existing custom audience. Facebook will then find all the people in your custom audience, and then look for more people it thinks might be similar based solely on their Facebook activity.

Step 9: What are Booking.com's measures of success?

Booking.com can use the Maybe* Insight summary to see how their social media content is stacking up. The Insight Summary shows you all your topline social media numbers.

You can copy this approach yourself to track your performance, and even compare your social media performance against competitors, like minded brands and even other businesses in your location. This is what you need to understand how your content is performing, and to benchmark whether your social media is as pretty as a picture or whether it needs a makeover.

The Maybe* Insight Summary for Booking.com

Step 10: Measuring delivery on the original objective?

Booking.com can use the Your Report tool within Maybe* to keep track of their social media performance, as well as ad any other third party business data they want to integrate.

The report builder allows them to see engagement, sentiment, conversation topics, conversation influencers, and their best posts by social media platform so they can understand what's working and what's not.

You can replicate this by checking out the Maybe* Your report feature which enables you to track your social media performance metrics and your business goals as well as find who’s got the most influence in the conversation about you.

The Maybe* Your report tool showing the social media influencers, the conversation about the business, and best posts by and about the business for Booking.com, through February 2021

Key takeaway

Booking.com shows us that handling difficult conversations and negative engagement is as important as engaging in an uplifting way. Remember to always prioritise your customer feedback before anything else, and then get to inspiring and influencing in the conversations that matter to you most.

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