social-media-stress-syndrome, dive travel industry, sustainable dive industry, scuba diving(Blue Ocean – June 20, 2014) — With so much to do, it’s easy for dive travel specialists to neglect the daily online postings that are critical to cultivating a strong social media presence.

At the Affluent Traveler Symposium in Boca Raton, Fla., travel marketing and e-commerce executive Susan Black offered agents social media tips, best practices and an update on the trends.

Let’s Get Social

In her “Let’s Get Social” presentation, Black urged participants to:
•    investigate how their clients use social media, so they can then get active on the same networks;
•    focus on specific networks;


Very Important to Use Vacation images

“Social media becomes very important when your clients are at a destination,” said Black,  “[Your clients] can share where they’re going and who got them there.”

Dive Travel sellers should use social media to create interest by re-posting their clients’ travel posts (with permission) and sharing images from their own vacations to put their own experiences to work in the social world, she said.

The most important thing is the images,” she told agents. “How do you show what is different about each vacation and what the experience is as well?”

Here’s a look at some of Black’s key themes.


Make it viral-worthy

The most important aspect of social networking is getting people to share and engage with your content so it goes viral, Black said.

It helps to know what types of content tend to get shared and to go viral, and Black offered a few examples, including Top 10 lists, contests, and sneak previews of new hotels or resorts also do well, she said.


Make it real

Even the splashiest content will get lost if it lacks authenticity. “It’s crucial to know how to showcase the authentic experiences that customers have and that agents have as experts,” said Black.


Post your own travels.

“It’s as simple as taking pictures with your iPhone when you’re in a destination. Take a photo with your arm around the resort’s general manager to show you know the movers and shakers,” said Black.


Strut your stuff

Social media provides agents with a way to show off their expertise and that’s key to attracting customers, Black said.

“Several years ago Forester Research found that 75% of travelers who booked online would work with a specific Seller if they could find one who specializes. People want experts, but they don’t know where to find them,” said Black.

“My advice is to keep social to about 10 minutes a day. I call it social hygiene. It’s like brushing your teeth. If you maintain the practice for 10 minutes a day you’ll be in unbelievably great shape,” said Black.

5 Social Media Tips


Here are quick tips for travel marketing and e-commerce

1.    Pick one specialty to showcase.

2.    Ask your clients to give you a social shout-out on their trips. Their posts will show up on your Facebook wall and Twitter feed. “Imagine if you have 10 clients each week posting that you’ve arranged the best trip of their lives.”

3.    Be visual. Photos engage people five to 10 times as well as words or links.

4.    Don’t fake it. Social networking is about relationships and to build a relationship you have to earn it. Never buy Facebook likes or Twitter followers.

5.    Use Google Plus. Google Plus is ideal for optimizing search results. “If you want people to find you, highlight content, tag it and optimize it with Google Plus.”