Founded in 1979, STA Travel is a well established, worldwide travel company, with a particular focus around adventures for students, gappers and young people. The fast changing nature of the travel industry and the competition from cheap airlines means that STA Travel have wisely chosen to prioritise social media to give them far reaching brand recognition.
I found the Facebook page for STA Travel UK particularly impressive. Content has a clear focus to promote deals for exotic locations, accompanied by short web link (ideal for mobile devices), and images are clear and simple- bright colours, bold text and high-res photographs- the holy trinity. Occasionally the page is used to promote travel tips, competitions, polls and internal news (such as the opening of new stores), which creates a good mix of content without losing focus; so often companies delegate their social media, resulting in a steady stream of lol-cats, bizarre question polls, and inconsistent, irregular posts- definitely not the case here.
The ultimate test of a company’s Facebook page is the response to comments- both in terms of tone and time. STA Travel UK reply to comments, including criticism, very quickly (within the hour), and do so in a professional but friendly manner. Top marks for consumer engagement- no delays here.
STA Travel UK’s Facebook page is a well populated asset to the company and I congratulate them on it. I imagine it provides a steady stream of traffic to their main website- the ultimate goal, but integration is the key. Finding the website from the Facebook page is no big deal, but try and head the other way and you might run in to some hurdles.
This is either a serious omission, or a brilliant design choice. If the ultimate goal of social media is to drive traffic to the main website, why bother going the other way if a potential customer logs directly onto the homepage?
As we all know, Facebook does not equal social media. Twitter is incredibly important, followed by Google+ and Pinterest. The challenge for a company such as STA Travel is how much time effort, and resources it puts into each site- spread thinly or specialise?
Looking at their twitter profile, we find an interesting add-on- a dedicated time slot in which questions can be answered by the team. A good idea in theory, but it goes against the 24-7 mindset of worldwide social media. Other than this paradox, and a slight lack of activity and engagement with their Pinterest profile, a shame considering its popularity, STA Travel UK have some of the best implementation of social media strategy that I’ve seen in recent months.
Social media for business doesn’t come easy, after all, it’s invading people’s everyday communications to try and sell them a product. But with good investment of time and resources, and a friendly, professional manner, STA have given themselves a good head start in a very competitive market.