Even though we have entered the second half of 2015, social media marketers still continue to evaluate the true potential of Google+ and for most of them it is ranked after Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram. Having said that, the entire Google Plus platform has evolved a lot in the last couple of years as a result of which several brands have jumped forward and adopted the platform. The increasing presence of travel brands on Google Plus is a clear sign that they acknowledge the importance of this platform.
Why Google+ has an instant connect with Travel Brands?
In the travel industry, we offer memories and experiences to our customers and that is why travel brands rely heavily on the use of high quality images & photographs. Google Plus allows the display of gif animations that can be used to convey your brand’s message to drive user engagement. Another fact to keep in mind is that it is the brainchild of Google, the search giant. The reach of a Google Plus page also helps to increase your search engine visibility. You can track your page performance with analytical tools such as Page Audit & Ripples.
How can your brand use it?
If you are a travel brand looking to harness the power of Google Plus, ensure that you have a right strategy in place. Content duplication from other social networks isn’t a great start-point. Identify your niche, what you want to say and how it will be different from other platforms that will increase the relevance of your presence on Google+. Experiment with photos, use the editing filters and every now and then try a GIF animation. Ensure that your Google+ page and website are cross-connected.
Visual storytelling also works very well in promoting a travel brand. Whether you are a B2B or B2C brand, you can use Hangouts to boost interaction. It can either be a two way interaction or a broadcast. For instance, destination brands can do Hangouts on Air to talk about top things travellers can do in a city.
Relevant hashtags should be used on Google Plus like other platforms to be more visible. Hashtags like #ttot, #traveller or #travel are commonly used but you should use them with some less popular and brand or campaign specific hashtags. Using very popular or trending hashtag might give you instant visibility but soon your post will be lost in a sea of other posts competing with the same hashtag. A less popular one on the other hand will make the post visible for a longer duration. So it is best to use a mix of both types of hashtags.
You should also engage actively in communities that relate to your niche of products and services. For example a business offering adventure activities can interact with fans who are active in Adventure Travel communities. We found two communities having 41K and 34K members with people posting their experiences and asking questions. Try to get noticed by being helpful and don’t advertise directly.
How popular is Google+ among Indian Travel Brands?
Most global travel brands are having active Google+ pages to cater to their Indian audience. According to our research, Lonely Planet India has got the strongest following on Google Plus among all Indian travel brands. They have 687K+ followers with over 20M views (profile + content view).
Along with a good volume of visual content, they are actively using hashtags on their posts to increase the content reach. However, we would love to see Lonely Planet exploring the native features of Google+ more often.
After Lonely Planet India, Expedia India takes the second spot with 579K followers which comes as a bit of a surprise if you think of OTAs in India, MakeMyTrip, Cleartrip and GoIbibo take the bigger market share. We were expecting them to have a much bigger community however they sit at 7K, 4.5K and 2.5K followers respectively. Yatra.com has a similar story with 4K followers. They can look at brands like Lonely Planet India, Expedia India, ixigo or some international travel brand pages for some inspiration.
With informative videos and funny visuals, ixigo, the travel search engine has a following on 514K on Google Plus. If we take a look at travel media, Conde Nast Traveller India is quite popular on Google Plus with 525K followers but they are giving videos a higher priority while ignoring posts.
For online businesses, Google Plus is a very important network that certainly can’t be ignored in the overall digital marketing mix. The activities on other platforms shouldn’t be diluted but you should consider allocating resources for this platform as well. It will go a long way in enhancing your online marketing efforts.
If your travel brand is hosting an interesting campaign on Google+, do tell us about it. We would be happy to feature it on TravHQ