Ep. 41 — Social Media Tips for Tour Operators

3 Free Social Media Tips for Tour Operators.

10 minutes with Arival’s Social Media Strategist Shawn Teasley.

Shawn Teasley sat down with Tourpreneur Podcast Host Shane Whaley and shared three social media tips for tour operators.

I was excited to chat with Shawn, as she is a social media expert with vast experience of working within the tours and hospitality industry. She is also very generous with her time and knowledge because she is passionate about social media and tours. In this quick chat, I asked Shawn to share with us her top three social media tips for tour operators.

Shawn has kindly agreed to come back on the Tourpreneur Podcast on a future episode to answer more of your social media questions and to give us more social media tips for tour operators because 10 minutes is not enough time to learn from such an experienced social media strategist.

This episode and interview of Tourpreneur@Arival is presented by Checkfront. The booking platform trusted by over 5,000 tour and activity operators around the world. You can start your own free 21-day trial over at Checkfront.com.

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Links and Resources Mentioned on This Episode of Tourpreneur – the podcast for tour operators.

Interview with Social Media Strategist Shawn Teasley. Full transcript.

Shane (male):                      Welcome to  Tourpreneur at Arival presented by Checkfront, and we’re joined by Shawn Teasley. How are you Shawn?

Shawn (female):                 Hi. Good to be with everybody today.

Shane (male):                      Absolutely. It’s always fun to be at Arival, to feel the energy.

Shawn (female):                 Energy, the electric vibes in this networking room are amazing.

Shane (male):                      It really is.

Shawn (female):                 Yeah. I’ve worked for Arival for a year and a half and it is addicting to come to one of these conferences. Just the pure passion and meeting everybody, hearing their stories, the creativity that goes into tours and activities, it’s none else.

Shane (male):                      Absolutely. It reminds me of a reunion in many ways, because you get to see people that you haven’t seen for a year and you talk to via or you see on social media, and we’re going to talk a lot about social media, or via email, but when you actually get to meet, shake hands, give a hug and hear what’s going on, that’s what I really love about Arival.

Shawn (female):                 Yes, completely. We create the space for people to brainstorm and network and just exchange ideas, like we’re going to do today. Talk about social.

Shane (male):                      Absolutely. I was keen to talk to you because you are a social media ninja. You do all the social media for Arival, so I see all your stuff every day, and I thought it’d be a really good opportunity for you to come on the show and just share a little bit about what you think are some really solid tips for tour operators who are out there, we know we’ve got to get better at social media. What would be your top three tips for our listeners today, how they can improve their social media presence based on what you’ve experienced and what you see other tour operators doing?

Shawn (female):                 Three. Okay, we’re going to reel it in. I would start with hashtags. If you’re on social media and specifically you’re using Instagram, don’t forget the power of the hashtag. If you don’t have a hashtag, create one, but before you create one, look to see if there’s one for you already out there. It’s amazing how creative tourists can be, and if you haven’t been paying attention to your own potential of a hashtag, there certainly might already be one.

Shane (male):                      Right. So, what’s the benefit of having your own hashtag?

Shawn (female):                 It’s a way of categorizing your content or other people’s content that is similar. So if you were a bike tour company, you may have a specific branded hashtag, but then you can also use the more generic hashtag which would be just #BikeTour.

Shane (male):                      Yeah, absolutely. So for this event for instance, I see #ArivalEvent.

Shawn (female):                 Yes, exactly.

Shane (male):                      So, I just did that this morning. I took a photo of our mobile studio here and tagged Arival Event, so that means I can go through and see everyone’s posts that-

Shawn (female):                 Yes. So, on Instagram you could look or on Twitter you could look on, in LinkedIn you can be looking, and it just helps categorize everything that’s happening and anybody using a tag. So, not just Arival uses our own hashtag, but all the attendees that are here, they can use it as well, and then all the contents is gathered together and displayed very easily.

Shane (male):                      Yeah.

Shawn (female):                 So even if you’re not here it’s easy to see what’s going on by following the hashtag.

Shane (male):                      Sure. And I guess also a tip would be to check out what our competitors are using as hashtags, right?

Shawn (female):                 Absolutely, yeah. And when you start thinking about hashtags and your branded hashtags, you can do a couple. For instance, Arival has Arival Event, but we also have Team Arival as well. And we have, because now we’re doing podcasts with you, we are doing Arival Voices. So, we have a few branded hashtags depending on the type of post, but I wouldn’t get too crazy with that. Maybe three max, and use one branded hashtag per post. You don’t want to use all three of them on the same post.

Shane (male):                      Right. So then would you say for example, #ShanesBoatTours and then another hashtag later on #BoatTours?

Shawn (female):                 Yes, and one that’s helps with your geographic location, too.

Shane (male):                      Yes.

Shawn (female):                 So, if your location was Orlando, then #Orlando or Local Orlando, something to that effect.

Shane (male):                      And that hashtag strategy, does that work for all the social media channels? So how it works for Instagram, is it the same for Twitter?

Shawn (female):                 Yes, and LinkedIn is newer to the hashtag community. I think they’ve been doing hashtags for almost two years now.

Shane (male):                      Right.

Shawn (female):                 So their history isn’t as great, but they’re definitely committed and in the hashtag world.

Shane (male):                      And also, talking of LinkedIn, so something I see a lot and I wonder about is I’ll see somebody will make a post and they’ll say, “Article in comments.” So, is that because LinkedIn are not sharing if there is a URL in a post?

Shawn (female):                 Great question. Yeah, just like any of the social media channels out there, they, I hate to use the word ding, but your post isn’t as likely to be shared out to maybe even your full dynamic of followers if you’re sharing too many links.

Shane (male):                      Yeah.

Shawn (female):                 So, it’s a game in working the algorithm system. Now, does LinkedIn, do any of the networks actually come out and say that? No, but all of the gurus in the social media industry have tested it and then go that route.

Shane (male):                      Yeah. I guess it makes sense in that LinkedIn or whoever, they want you to stay on their platform, they want you to see their ads. The minute you go off.

Shawn (female):                 Of course they do.

Shane (male):                      But it’s highly frustrating as a content creator that you want to put everything in one post and you don’t want people to have to drill down to actually get the link, right?

Shawn (female):                 Right.

Shane (male):                      I think it’s frustrating.

Shawn (female):                 This is actually a very interesting dynamic that we have working, because we want to link out when we post about our podcast.

Shane (male):                      Yes.

Shawn (female):                 We say find the podcasts within your favorite podcasting app, but also as an easy way you put the link in.

Shane (male):                      Yes.

Shawn (female):                 And we are still going that route of putting the link in. Watch social, because it might not be up there much longer, but we have to be creative. And if you keep using links in every single post, it’s going to have a negative effect.

Shane (male):                      Sure.

Shane (male):                      What would tip number two be?

Shawn (female):                 If you’re on Instagram, using the link in bio dropdown. Because LinkedIn limits you to only having one URL on your whole profile, if you post about multiple different things and you’re constantly changing your URL every day, every other day, then somebody that saw a post a few days ago doesn’t get to experience that link that you may have shared. So by using this tool, for instance Linktree, that gives you the opportunity to put one link in there and then it drops a tree down of the different links that you may be driving traffic to.

Shane (male):                      Fantastic. Is that something Arival is using?

Shawn (female):                 Yes, we use Linktree.

Shane (male):                      So people who are listening to the show can actually go to the Arival-

Shawn (female):                 Yeah, take a look for example.

Shane (male):                      And see how you’re doing it. No, I think that’s really smart, because they don’t allow you to put links into Instagram, correct?

Shawn (female):                 They allow you to, they’re just not live, and then that annoys your viewers and visitors because the link is there, and if it’s a very long link you can’t click on it and it’s just highly annoying.

Shane (male):                      Yeah, sure. What would your third tip be?

Shawn (female):                 It also goes along with what we were talking about hashtags, but looking to see what other content is out there from your guests who have been on the trip or a tour or an experience that you’ve had, but also seeing what your competition is doing. So, through research on your hashtags or on hashtags that you had anticipate you can go through and see what else maybe a bike tour operator that’s across the country may show up in that same hashtag query that you’re doing. And you can take a look and say, “Oh look, they’re doing this.”

Shawn (female):                 I think a great example of this is zipline companies. So, if you were just to look up like ziplines, zipline adventure as a hashtag, you could see other operators doing the same. And maybe you notice, “Oh my gosh, in Australia I’m noticing all of them putting name tags on their helmets. How fun is that?” So, you have a helmet that’s branded with this crazy name like Mad Max, and you’re zipping through and maybe you take that idea, and you think, “Okay, we’re going to do fun themed name tags.” Or, twist it and make it your own. But you can see what other people are doing and how the visitors, their clients, are enjoying it.

Shane (male):                      Absolutely. Can I ask you, because I always get confused with what exactly is an Instagram Story and a Facebook Story. Are they the same? Are they different? How do they work?

Shawn (female):                 This is its own podcast alone.

Shane (male):                      Okay, so we’ll have to revisit this one.

Shawn (female):                 No, no. So, Stories are small bits and they live at the top of your app, versus the Instagram posts, they’re going to be down in your feed. So, is that clear?

Shane (male):                      Yeah.

Shawn (female):                 Do I need to break it down any further in that direction?

Shane (male):                      So, maybe we could then look at how useful could they be for tour operators?

Shawn (female):                 So, I think that stories is a great opportunity. If you share access with your tour operators to your Instagram account, then they can build a story which could be just three to five images from that specific tour or experience, and they can just build out little clips. It could be a couple of steps walking down the road as a video, and then also a group shot. And it clusters them together, similar to a carousel, but it lives for only 24 hours at the top of the app.

Shane (male):                      Right. Understood.

Shawn (female):                 So in that sense it’s fun, but it doesn’t have to be as curated as some of the things down in the regular feed. If for any listeners out there that don’t understand the idea of the nine grid or the twelve grid, you want your nine and twelve grid to synchronize and look well and branded. But if you give access to your tour guide, they may not have that same eye, but it’s certainly fun to post images from a tour.

Shane (male):                      Definitely.

Shawn (female):                 And so giving them some creativity that doesn’t affect your nine grid is brilliant. It also gives those guides just a fun opportunity to share what’s going on from their tour, and not have to wait later to post it and have whoever does their social media post it out.

Shane (male):                      Well, thank you very much for giving us some of your … I know you’re incredibly busy here at Arival. We’ve hardly scratched the surface. So my final question to you is would you come back on the show and take some questions from some of our tour operators on social media?

Shawn (female):                 Ooh, yes. Let’s post-

Shane (male):                      Let’s do the full hour.

Shawn (female):                 Yeah, let’s post out that we’re going to have a session and ask for questions, and we’ll do whole Q and A.

Shane (male):                      Sounds fantastic.

Shawn (female):                 Ooh, I love it.

Shane (male):                      Thank you.

Shawn (female):                 Yes.

Speaker 2:                              Thanks for listening to the Tourpreneur podcast. Be sure to visit tourpreneur.com to join the conversation and access the show notes, including links to the resources mentioned on today’s episode. This is Tourpreneur.