Selling, Sort Of, On Social Media

It’s a well-accepted truism by now that “you can’t sell on social media,” but as savvy suppliers have become more sophisticated about the use of social media, it’s also become true that social media can be part of a multi-leg -- even multi-directional -- path toward sales.

A recent example is a themed South America Week conducted by Expedia Media Solutions. After partnering with two destinations and three airlines (Peru tourism; Chile tourism; Avianca (the Colombia airline); Aerolineas Argentinas; and LAN (the Chile-based airline), Expedia took aim at creating awareness for South American and driving transactions on Expedia points of sale.

The campaign ran during the week of Feb. 11 to coincide with Carnival and featured content from each of the five partners across Expedia’s Facebook, Google+ and Twitter pages. The social content featured merchandising deals from each of the brands and drove users to a custom South American-themed landing page and destination store on the Expedia site. A sponsored Twitter chat discussing South America and a Buenos Aires hotel giveaway were also part of the campaign, helping to amplify engagement around the destination.



The results were pretty impressive. 

* Social Success: Some of the images Expedia promoted on its Facebook page had upwards of 5,000 views; and Avianca, which sponsored two of the six campaign days, saw an increase of nearly 25,000 fans on its own Facebook page.

* Business Boost: The campaign, yes, drove business results. The number of rooms booked on Expedia for all South American destinations saw a 62% year-over-year growth for the week that the campaign ran. The top-performing countries - Ecuador (Avianca promoted travel to that country) and Peru, saw year-over-year growth of over 145% -- you read right -- for the number of room nights booked. Colombia and Brazil experienced 87% and 84% growth, respectively.

Noah Tratt, global vice president of media solutions for Expedia, says the campaign is a good example of how partnering with a group of companies across multiple brands and destinations adds a level of dynamics to a campaign that consumers find really engaging.

This is not Expedia’s first themed week. It has run them for Las Vegas and for Cinco de Mayo – gathering content and fostering engagement with followers on social media. The benefits of having partners is that every day of the theme a different partner can provide a different approach, heightening the chance that browsers would return to the site. For example, Aerolineas Argentinas displayed content about what it was like to fly business class. Partners were also encouraged to provide new and exclusive content and deals.

While there were no hotel partners, Expedia employees around the world got the word out and many of those hotels chose to be part of the theme, offering their own deals.  And the promotion did not end after the week as the destination stores remained open –continuing to do social media and periodically revisiting the themes and the partners brainstorming about what to do next.

Expedia did enjoy advertising sales from partners but the bookings, of course, made for a more important revenue boost -- showing that, yes, social media can produce revenue if you make all the right connections.

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