Gain more Twitter followers

twitter_newbird_boxed_whiteonblueThe influence of social media can no longer be ignored. There are now more than 800 million active users of Facebook, some 100 million are tweeting furiously on Twitter while more than 135 million people are sneaking a look at the CVs of friends and enemies on business network LinkedIn . Google’s new network Google+ meanwhile has become the fastest growing social network in (the sector’s short) history.

What does this mean for the world of business travel? It is all too easy to think that social media is irrelevant for companies in the business travel sector. After all, people should be working while in the office, not sharing details of their breakfast and posting pictures of cute pets.

In fact, while many users of social media use these various services to do just that, there are many more people using it for serious purposes.

Speaking at the recent Social Travel Market conference (co-founded by Businesstravelwire’s Mark Frary), Catharine van Dijk, manager for reputation and content at Dutch airline KLM, said that the first time her company really recognised the value of social media was after the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjällajökull. She said that social media channels became invaluable in keeping in touch with customers. Hundreds of KLM staff used things like Twitter and Facebook to share updates and also help passengers rebook once European airspace reopened.

As a business travel company, even if you do not allow your own staff to use social media (and there is some doubt whether such a ban is truly enforceable given the prevalence of personal devices such as smartphones), your clients are already using social media and you would be foolish to ignore that.

A Twitter account is a good way to take first steps into the social media maelstrom. Once you have chosen an appropriate user name (it has to be less than 15 characters), you will want to think about attracting followers – the people who will see any tweet that you post, including those all-important calls to action for your customers.

Rather than just sitting back and waiting for people to follow you, you need to be proactive. Go and find people already on Twitter to follow: Twitter etiquette means that most will follow you right back.

The first logical step is to find out if any of your existing clients, either on an individual basis or corporate basis, are already on Twitter. If they are, follow them. You should also look for potential clients and follow them too.

Then we can go deeper. Find out if any of your competitors are on Twitter and click on the link that shows all of the people who follow them. Many of these will be of interest to you so go through and follow all those who seem relevant.
The next tactic is to search for people tweeting about relevant topics e.g. business travel. Type in your chosen topic into Twitter’s search box (enclosing it with quotation marks) and see the tweets that appear. Follow anyone tweeting regularly on your topic.

Finally, engage all of these people in Twitter conversation. Lively and relevant chatter will encourage people to follow you.

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