Opinion: Recognise the power of an engaged audience

Opinion: Recognise the power of an engaged audience

What have watching a boy getting his finger bitten by his little brother and goats that yell like humans got to do with selling holidays? Travel 2's Andy Freeth explains

I am writing this after spending an enjoyable three minutes laughing for the umpteenth time at the famous online video ‘Charlie bit my finger’.

According to YouTube, more than 300 hours of footage is uploaded to the site every minute. That is a heck of a lot of funny cats and stupid stunts that are being pumped into the incomprehensibly vast world of YouTube.

Can you remember a time when you didn’t waste a lunchtime, train journey or – being painfully honest – a meeting, chuckling under your breath at the latest quirky, funny or just plain-stupid YouTube video sent by a friend or colleague.

Since the site’s launch 10 years ago, hundreds of videos have become viral sensations and are watched and discussed by millions worldwide. Most videos enjoy a moment in the spotlight before fading into obscurity, while others become legendary. No one can forget the Ice Bucket Challenge for the ALS disease that sent social media into a frenzy, with even Lady Gaga, Bill Gates and Simon Cowell getting involved, as more than $100 million was raised in a month.

Playback payback

When Thorne Travel launched its Virgin Atlantic spoof video last year, the travel industry applauded. Not only is the video funny, but it also boosted the company’s bookings by a phenomenal 110%, according to reports. Within the first week, the video was viewed more than 700,000 times on YouTube – that’s almost the population of Leeds.

Social media is a powerful tool, and one that companies and agents need to embrace to engage with customers, but what our obsessive YouTube watching reinforces is the power of an engaged audience.

Get your social media right and your customers will want more from you. It’s a great opportunity to share the latest deals, run competitions and reinforce your skills as specialists. Just as we all eagerly await Thorne Travel’s follow-up video, your own social media followers are also engaged, and should be rewarded with more.

Incentivise your audience

Once you have a captive audience, the key is to ensure it works for you. Social media ‘gurus’ – and I’m not one – would advise that the best way to do this is to incentivise your audience, to keep them coming back.

They are actively engaging with your brand, so need something in return. It doesn’t need to be prizes. As agents, this can be the specialist knowledge that you have on where to take the kids in Vegas, the stunning images of honeymoon destinations that you keep on file or the fact that you can help plan and ultimately book the most complex once-in-a-lifetime itinerary that a customer can think up.

By harnessing the power of social media, agents can come into their own, using it to demonstrate the insight, knowledge and skills that make booking through them an invaluable experience.

Anyway, I’m off to watch ‘Goats Yelling Like Humans’ – along with 29 million others.


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