If your business revolves around sending people on vacation, your work is half done in the social media world. No company attracts the online fans like travel: give away enough trips and you'll see your fan and follower numbers increase with minimal effort. But what makes Orbitz, the Chicago-based all-in-one travel site stand out from the rest? Read on to see how they go beyond status-quo in the social media sphere.
“Orbitz Gives Away Free Twitter Tickets” “…Improves Social Media Features” These are examples of some of the headlines generated by online blogs and articles about Orbitz and their online practice. You don’t even need to be following them in order to see them pop up on your friends feed as they gloat about how they just entered to win a trip to Tahiti. Everything I see about Orbitz aside from following their @Orbitz twitter handle of 81+K
They also have @OrbitzCareTeam who boast “Difficult dilemmas solved here every day! Solutions for the impossible just take a little longer”. I appreciate this because some companies don’t take care of this on social media, and that totally defeats the purpose of interacting with your customers in the social space. Plus, they keep the customer the focus while still running promotions to give away free trips. They really get it.
I don’t really see a lot that they can do to improve. The only suggestion would be to give me a free trip. That’s totally biased. I meant that they should give Jen and I a free trip. That is all.
Trip giveaways are just the beginning for Orbitz. The "follow and retweet for a chance to win *insert cool travel prize here*" is the standard for any company in the travel industry. Orbitz steps it up and hits the three main aspects of brands great on social media:
Take their most recent Facebook competition, "50 Faves"; the fact that there are 50 highly desirable prizes is not even the point to highlight. (Though, that helps.) What makes this social media campaign so great, is the extent to which all benefits of social media are covered:
- Participants have to "Like" the page 1st and foremost
- It encourages daily visits
- It rewards fans for sharing, as well as having a large active social network. (The more friends that play, the more chances you got.)
- It encourages cross-channel sharing: Tweet about it for more entries
- It's simple and easy
This is a contest that leaves no social media rock unturned.
Talk first, sell second:
Giveaways are only half a social media strategy--a company would never get anyone to engage with them outside of a bribe and they'd go broke if that's all they relied on. Orbitz gets the Facebook audience by posing fun, somewhat random questions with their shared promotions:
"Beach or pool?" "How are you enjoying Fall?" "How many stamps does your passport have?"
The travel company page is a place to chat about a love of travel, and maybe check out some deals while you're there. Twitter follows suit. They're marketing without marketing, and that's what social media is about. Conversations, relationships, atmosphere. Not a hard push.
If your company has a Twitter account or Facebook page, you're saying you're here to talk and listen, so you'd better be ready to do so. Your brand will be talked about and to by customers, most likely ones who need assistance. Orbitz realizes this and like Katie notes, have a structure in place to take care of any issues that arise.
None. They nailed it.
The Verdict #####
Orbitz earned an unprecedented FIVE hashtags for using social media to its fullest potential. And really, they have no excuse not to keep that rating going. Orbitz is a well-known company with the luxury of providing a service and products a majority of folks want. They realize their strengths and capitalize on it in a way that speaks to a social media audience.
Jen Healy is a Global Social Media Specialist for a really big international (go figure) company on the Northside of Chicago. Her claim to social media fame involves a stint as the social media intern for the RedEye, America's Test Kitchen, the title 2011 Downtown Dash Champion and “Top 10 World's Coolest Interns.” (Yes, it's real, and it's spectacular.)
Katie Holland is a Social Media Supervisor for a really big international (different from Jen's) company out in the west suburbs of Chicago. Her claim to social media fame involves a mention in the bestseller Groundswell for a Twitter interaction in 2010, and serving as co-chair of the Social Customer Care subcommittee for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. She is also featured in Rebecca Black's video for Friday. (Okay, not really)