According to Alex Emberey, Thomas Cook UK’s social media manager, this was done to help the company achieve increased business value by raising brand awareness through customer engagement and community interaction, which would ultimately lead to more people choosing the tour operator when booking a holiday.
We needed a way to easily drive on-brand engagement, run promotions and allow multiple employees to get involved with marketing campaigns,” he says. Social media allows us to listen to customers, inspire them and engage with them in meaningful ways.
Thomas Cook UK uses its Facebook page to run competitions, upload promotions, respond to queries and post customer reviews, as well as offering customer support and the function to search for holidays. It also encourages its page users to create shareable, viral content in a bid to build up their ‘ranking’. In return, users with the highest ranking are rewarded with cash or travel vouchers.
That’s just one example of how we’re using social [media] to help people explore new places and have new experiences,” says Emberey. “As a business, social [media] fits our ‘customer-first’ mindset.
In March, Thomas Cook launched a marketing campaign that spanned multiple media channels and ran for three months. While three separate advertisements featuring staff lip-synching to Joey Ramone’s recording of Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World ran on YouTube and TV, the company launched a Facebook competition offering a holiday worth £20,000 to the user that uploaded a photograph best encapsulating the “explorer spirit” of its founder, Thomas Cook.
According to Emberey, the campaign, in conjunction with an upgrade to its website, led to a 19% increase in package tour bookings in the UK in the four weeks after it launched.
Emberey says that part of the reason the company is choosing to focus on social media marketing is that it presents an opportunity to integrate actionable data with information from its own proprietary CRM systems.
&Social gives us great data to improve customer interactions and inform our own proposition development,” he says. Our vision is a differentiated and improved Thomas Cook experience across online and offline touch points for our social connections, and right now, driving engagement is a big part of the steps we’re taking to make that happen.
Social media monitoring
One tool helping Thomas Cook UK achieve this integration and to meet its social marketing goals is cloud-based social monitoring suite Wildfire, which allows the company to assess the impact of ads, messages, promotions and Facebook pages.
We tried a few social monitoring tools, but Wildfire was easy to use and helped us act as a bridge between us and our social connections,” Emberey says. “We use a few different metrics to understand the relationship between social media engagement and business value for Thomas Cook, and we’ve seen real positive trends tied to using Wildfire.”
Emberey says that because data the company collects through its social media marketing tools is increasingly detailed, the company’s actions on social require it to act with a moral compass.
“We want connecting with us on social to be the first step toward a better Thomas Cook experience, and definitely not a creepy one,” he says. “We respect customers’ privacy in all interactions and our team is actively encouraged to make sure what we do is compliant with the latest regulations.”
Emberey says that the use of social media marketing is resulting in positive outcomes for the company, which it tracks with the use of Wildfire and other metrics. He also says that it presents a secondary effect, one that should not be underestimated.
The business is becoming more excited by social, he says. Social is consistently presenting new ways and opportunities to engage with customers, and they’re ones we don’t intend to miss.