As a person who loves traveling it has been a constant endeavor to find sites or information as quickly as possible. In the process, whenever not traveling I have always fallen back on Twitter for the daily dose of travel highlights, the places to go to, the things to see, the food to eat, and dream of my next destination, perhaps Morocco or Barcelona with one of my girlfriends like the 2008 flick Vicky Cristina Barcelona, minus all the melodramatic affairs of course.
The microblogging and social networking site, which acts for both mass and personal communication, with its messages contained in just 140 characters, seems like a perfect place to quickly sift through information which is of interest. In the daily rush of life, it is a boon to be able to sip on a glass of wine at a roadside café in Paris to staring down at the gaping canyon through the glass bridge at Shiniuzhai Park in China.
Following from the Uses and Gratifications Theory which posits that humans as social beings would search out for communication mediums which best satisfy their needs (Lin, 2009; Rubin, 2009), I increasingly found myself drawn to Twitter as a base for information about traveling across the world. The character limitation made the travel sites, travel bloggers and travelers to keep their information quirky, quick and to the point, with hyperlinks to more information, and there by effectively routing the traffic towards matter of interest.
Looking closer home I decided to look into the brand of Incredible India which calls out to tourists and travelers looking to travel to and through the country, one which is blissfully often unaware of its own treasures. The diversity of each zone, state and city in the country is more often than not as different from each other as chalk from cheese.
[infogram id=”incredible_indias_social_media_presence” prefix=”qgg”]
Analyzing its social media presence it was found that YouTube, which no longer allows the channels to display their number of subscribers but instead shows the views, had around 3 million views since its start in March 2014. Followed by Google Plus at 99,755 followers and 1,011,997 views. While the brand has been on Twitter since 2013, it was surprising to see just about 29,488 followers. Facebook was perhaps the earliest social media presence of the brand and yet garnered only about 16,717 followers.
What’s in a number? If analyzed demographically perhaps the numbers would speak a lot. However, on analyzing from the social media marketing perspective it could be analyzed that what was lacking was continuity, connectivity and content. While the numbers are high enough, the brand was failing in terms of social media marketing and tapping into the market on Twitter and Facebook in particular.
For the present discussion however, one might discount the YouTube presence given its nature of being a channel to market the brand through videos, one which is starkly different from the other networks and often would be an accessory rather than a medium of communication here, as might perhaps also be read in terms of how the videos had a high number of views but lacked in any comments.
Facebook on the other hand had posts with link backs to the YouTube videos by Incredible India. Google Plus went a step further and each post had a description accompanied with an image and typically a link back to the main website, however the posts were not regular posts. An August 19 post gave a description of Assam, while an August 21 talked about Allahabad, and after that there had not been a single post.
Twitter on the other hand displayed sporadic tweets. The initial blog post mentioned tweets from September 13 and a number of unrelated tweets, however it seems the tweets in question have been removed since then.
Twitter displayed sporadic tweets with just a line saying “Aurangabad – Ajanta – Ellora – See more at: http://www.incredibleindia.org/travel/destination/aurangabad-ajanta-ellora ”
— Incredible!ndia (@incredibleindia) September 10, 2015
The tweet displayed above does not say much about the place and it seems that the tweet expects the photograph to be the support system to spread the word and attract tourists. Although it has 42 retweets and 44 favorites, with more than 87, 200 followers that number maybe analyzed to be a little low for engagement. However, it would fail to catch the social media radar due to the lack of appropriate trending hashtags like #travel #budgettravel and others. It also has a broken link back, making the tweet entirely dependent on the one photograph.
The difference in content leads to the analysis that perhaps each of the social networking sites drew in different kinds of population and therefore called for the different sort of activity posted. There is a high possibility that each of the sites also have different managers, which perhaps is the reason behind the discord among them. The sporadic nature of the posts further lead to the brand image being that of one which is confused, generic and not interactive enough. Subjectively speaking, not something which would be appreciated by the netizens or the travelers looking for a virtual look at India.
One of the first and foremost need of any traveler is information which would be of interest. Interests of each traveler differ. It ranges from food, lifestyle, adventure, history, culture, festival to much more. Somehow each of the social media posts seemed unable to catch the varying range of interest as was evident from low percentage of shares, retweets or views for each post. The brand is failing to catch the key phrases or words, which would bring in the interest. If the right key words and phrases are framed, then the right images may be used and right videos linked to.
From that perspective it was analyzed that the best practice for the brand of Incredible India would not only be to tie the content together on each of these sites, but also increase the frequency. Google Plus for that matter has a fantastic presence by the brand where each post tells a story of the place in question, followed by a link back to the main website. The same content would make more sense if it appears on Facebook as well, as opposed to the generic YouTube video link with a simple post just naming the place. In case of Twitter the content could be shortened to 140 characters ringing in an element of surprise for the Twitter base, followed by meaningful hashtags which would be trending. Thereby tying all the content together, getting a sense of control over it and linking each of the sites for more presence. Put together, this would also give the impression to the traveler that this brand of travel has its act together and might be a helpful place to explore more about the country.
Further the brand fails to highlight some key elements that all tourists look for – budget, stay, transport, food and prime seasons. To color up those elements and put them out would generate enough content to keep the sites busy every day. A social media management site like Hootsuite would perhaps be the best way to go for the brand.
For the purposes of speculation and feedback, the tweet mentioned above and following from the above mentioned argument, if reconsidered it could be re-framed in this manner:
” #RecliningBuddha at the Ajanta&Ellora Caves in Aurangabad, #India, BC 200. Curious? http://ow.ly/U1A3d ”
Using URL shorteners leaves 33 more character space for the photograph. Further appropriate hashtags which have been in use can help draw in attention from interested travelers, who might be looking into India. An appropriate name for the photograph in question – Reclining Buddha, and adding the historical edge of the caves which date back to the second century could help the tweet to be more impactful. Further the link should be a fully functioning one, as has been ensured for this re-framed tweet.
As a follow up it would be advisable for tweets to suggest about “how to get there” in terms of the nearest major city and mode of transportation with a linkback to an appropriate website sponsored by the tourism board. a third and fourth tweet could cover the cultural connotations of the city of Aurangabad and also the food available, along with some local trivia. The follow up tweets would help to keep the key terms fresh in the Twitter feed and meanwhile also ensure a steady flow of traffic and perhaps pique interests of many travels.
This is an endeavor to understand the social media marketing practices of Incredible India and research into proper social selling practices that can be adopted by this tourism giant.
Lin, C. A. (2009). Effects of the Internet. In &. M. J. Bryant, Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research (pp. 567-593). New York: Routledge.
Rubin, A. M. (2009). Uses-and-gratifications perspective on media effect. In J.Bryant, & M. B. Oliver, Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp. 165-184). New York: Routledge.