Travel and social media: five ways to cut through it all

As I was scanning the headlines this morning, I came across Christopher Elliott’s article, “Are travelers overloaded by social media?” It’s a fair question. Not only are more and more of us plugging in – Twitter, for example, is adding 1.8 million new users a week – but we’re being increasingly being bombarded “communicated to” by hotels and airlines that are eager to get a bigger share of our wallets. So, there’s a whole lot of status updating and tweeting going on, and we need to figure out how to deal with it all.

It’s easy to blame the marketing guys for this. Aren’t they the people responsible, clogging our Facebook news feeds and Twitter timelines with hot deals and other promotional content? Well, yes … but we want some of that. That’s why I follow, for example, people like @Bsimi and @Colonnade, not to mention @JetBlue.

So, we have to balance our desire for promotional content (and let’s be honest – we do desire it) with keeping our social media environments clean and decidedly our own. Here are five ways you can get what you want without giving up too much:1. Make loyalty choices: with all the content floating around, you need to trim down the number of travel businesses you follow in order to truly take advantage of the best deals. Otherwise, you risk not seeing what you really want. Decide which brands mean the most to you, and ditch the others.

2. Make travel brands earn your social media share: for me at least, it takes more than a few hot deals to get me to follow a brand on Twitter or like it on Facebook. I want interesting content and customer service, too. I may test out a social media relationship for a while, but to make it stick, the company is going to have to perform.

3. Watch your friends: if you see a brand retweeted or otherwise interacting with one of your friends, it may be worth following it – or at least asking your friend why. This is why I follow @FSHotelHouston (Four Seasons Hotel Houston), for example, which was based on Twitter action I saw from @welshwonder.

4. “Favorite” and “like” what matters: use these features to bookmark social media content that you may want to use later. It will keep great deals from getting lost in your active social media stream.

5. Use these relationships effectively: By trimming your list down, you are effectively making a statement about customer loyalty – make sure the people managing those accounts know that! Don’t do it just for perks. Instead, develop a real relationship with the person behind the brand.