Nearly a quarter of people’s time spent online is spent on social networking sites. Whether tweeting content to throngs of Twitter followers or updating their Facebook profile with new vacation images, consumers are spending more and more time on social networks and marketers are taking notice. Social media contests and sweepstakes are becoming a trend on such sites as marketers seek to connect with fans in a more comfortable, personalized medium. Travel marketers have started taking things to the next level by offering vacation getaways and sweepstakes just for interacting with travel brands online.
Last month, online travel giant Expedia.com launched its FriendTrips game on Facebook, a contest that promises to deliver “over $1,000,000 in prizes.” All fans have to do is create a virtual plane bound for one of 13 destinations and invite friends to join them on their virtual journey. With its six-figure incentive, the game is said to be the largest sweepstakes in Facebook history.
Other travel brands have also turned to social media to launch games. Earlier this year Continental Airlines ran a promotion asking flyers to tweet their flight number for a chance to win weekly prizes. Mexico Tourism teamed with Travelocity during the 2010 holiday season with a ‘Where’s Waldo’-esque Facebook game, asking users to spot the Travelocity gnome in Mexican vacation destination photos.
While such contests are breaking ground in the social space, are these contests reaching the right audience? The answer seems to be a resounding, yes. According to an article by Sparxoo earlier this year, social gamers tend to be women in their 40s, playing games like Farmville on Facebook. This audience is often a prime target for destinations trying to reach busy moms who plan vacations for their families. With the industry predicting growth into the $6 billion range by 2013, Travelocity and Expedia are on the right track.
Whether your target audience is 40-something moms who are connecting with friends and family on Facebook or urban college students looking to save a few bucks, social media creates a fun and interactive space for travel brands to reach new consumers. By playing in the space one’s audience thrives in, brands can connect with consumers with deeper engagement and foster greater brand awareness and loyalty.