Brands urged to be ‘transparent, empathetic and inspirational’ on social media

With travel on pause and the entire nation at home, more people than ever are scrolling endlessly through their social media feeds. 

We’re all craving interaction, escapism and inspiration at a time when our normal daily lives are restricted. But what role can travel brands play and what is appropriate to post in light of the current restrictions? 

According to social media experts at Melt Digital, travel brands need to be transparent, empathetic and inspirational on their channels.


Cater for online demand 

Amy Podrasky, the agency’s digital PR and social accounts manager, urged brands to interact with their online communities and focus on engagement over driving traffic. And she said now was a key time to get active as the likes of Facebook and Instagram report increases of around 40% in the time people are spending on their platforms since January. 

Brands should focus on choosing and sticking to key messages created using the ‘pub test’ as an indicator for good content, according to Podrasky. 

“Ask yourself if your content will get people talking about it positively in a pub,” Podrasky said. “Take a step back and think about the content you’d like to see at this point in time. Show some form of escapism, but do you really want to see a virtual hotel room tour – probably not. So instead a hotelier could use their sommelier and do a virtual wine pairing session.” 

She urged travel firms to use not only stock imagery but also Gifs and user‐generated content, adding: “This is a great time to test new content ideas – ask your audience questions, strike up conversation.” 

Aware that many travel firms have furloughed staff, Podraski said brands should be as active as possible with their diminished teams. 

“It may be difficult, especially for those running on limited teams,” she said. “But people are online and looking to interact, so if you can do that, don’t stay quiet.” 

She caveated that by saying brands whose travel policies were attracting consumer criticism may wish to focus on offering support rather than posting “for the sake of posting”. 

“Help [them] to navigate cancellations and refunds and try to leave them feeling confident about postponing rather than cancelling,” she added. 

Brands which are introducing policies around bookings or future travel were advised to signpost this clearly by ‘pinning’ tweets or adding ‘highlights’ on Instagram stories. 


Tailor your messages 

Asked whether brands should post the same content across all social platforms, Beki Hayler, Melt’s digital PR lead, suggested content should be tailored to suit the audience. 

“It is fine to publish the same across all platforms, especially when teams aren’t at full capacity,” she said. 

“But it’s important to understand your audience and demographics may be different on each.” 

Hayler said now was a good time for brands to experiment on different platforms as so many people were currently seeking online content. 

“If your team is smaller due to staff members being furloughed, prioritise your social media channels and focus on what works best for your audience,” she said. “Consumers want quick, lighthearted content
and videos that allow them to escape from what’s going on right now.”

Ensure your social content is fit for purpose with Amy Podrasky's five-point strategy

  1. Focus on community

    Offer support and be as transparent and empathetic as you can. Help customers navigate rebooking and leave them feeling confident enough to postpone rather than cancel.

  2. Have a clear understanding of your messaging

    Take a step back and think about content you’d like to see during this time. Provide escapism but be sure to address the current climate. As a rule of thumb, only post one branded post for every four posts.

  3. Focus on organic strategy

    While some other sectors will be ramping up their spending on pay per click (PPC), this isn’t the
    right time for travel. Without demand, companies shouldn’t throw money at PPC because there isn’t a quick win. Organic content is far more authentic.

  4. Keep active

    With more people than ever online, make sure you’re ready to interact. But don’t post for the sake of it if you’re brand isn’t being seen in the best light currently

  5. Focus on engagement

    Now isn’t the time to strive for traffic. Instead, inspire and focus on engagement with your audience.

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