Travel advisors looking to convert social networks into cruise sales should think of themselves as an influencer, build content for mobile devices and provide engaging, interactive elements.

These top tips were offered by Colleen Coulter, Facebook’s head of travel, in a webinar with Norwegian Cruise Line’s Isis Ruiz, SVP and chief marketing officer. Tuesday’s session on leveraging social media for cruise sales was part of NCL’s ongoing ‘Week of You’ for travel partners.

An authentic voice that people trust

‘Think of yourself as an influencer, an authentic voice that people trust,’ Coulter advised, noting that research shows 90% of people put more faith in influencers they know than celebrities.

‘Be accessible to your community for any and all questions’ and ‘nurture the relationship,’ she said.

Authentic content such as a short smartphone video from a trip or snippets from an NCL inaugural is more effective to establish expertise than posting a stream of travel material from others. NCL’s media library can be a source of images, too, while Instagram provides filters, stickers and, new, Instagram Reels, to post short videos with music and other effects.

Think mobile

According to research cited by Coulter, 70% of people said they’re spending more time on their mobile devices during the coronavirus pandemic and that translates into more digital purchases — a point referenced by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio during the company’s recent earnings call.

On mobile devices, short, punchy content is more effective than a three-minute video. Interactive formats like polling — What destination do you want to travel to next? — increase engagement.

Advisors should make sure the content they’re posting is as diverse as travelers are, Coulter said. And be sure to adjust messaging to stay with the tone of the times.

‘Relevance is key,’ Ruiz said.

Consider that many people may be using mobile devices with the sound off, so adding captions, stickers or text overlays is a good idea.

When Ruiz assesses marketing content, she looks at whether the images tell a story with the sound off. And, with the sound on but without the images, does the content still make sense?

NCL video spot tops 11m views

No surprise Ruiz knows what she’s talking about. NCL’s new ‘Break Free’ campaign video that launched in time for Black Friday sales, has been consumed by more than 11m viewers.

Start with Instagram, where travel rules

For those new to social media, Coulter recommends starting with Instagram, where travel is the No. 1 interest. ‘You’re selling travel, something people want to hear about. Lean into that,’ she said.

The Facebook for Business website has resources. To dig dipper, its Blueprint training program offers video training and courses.

Hashtags, when to post and how often?

Hashtags help people find content, but don’t overdo them. It’s better to keep a focus and use a standard set to align with key themes.

When is it most effective to post travel content? Before the pandemic, weekends were best. Now, during the pandemic, any day is fine since people have more flexible work schedules.

And how much is too much? If advisors are sharing every day without getting much engagement, they might try every four days to see if that’s more effective.

Coulter said it takes time to nurture relationships on social media, so bookings may not come instantly. It’s a matter of building trust and loyalty.

Ruiz also reminded advisors to ask for the sale.

‘[Say] “DM me” or “Check out the link in my post.” “Contact me.” Like in any other channel … Don’t just post content and have no call to action.’