Think of your favorite vacation. That probably didn’t take long, did it? Sure, like most travel agents, you have lots of places on your list of favorites and even more on your bucket list. But you probably don’t sell that favorite vacation exclusively. Specialization is important, but being hyper-specialized can be risky business. It is dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket, no matter how attractive the basket.

The problem comes when you let that favorite vacation, destination, or supplier dominate your social media. It is so important for your social media to accurately tell the story of your brand. That means it needs to represent the depth and breadth of your expertise. In the first article in this series I suggested you conduct a social media audit. That audit should be a good indication of what your business is all about. If you typed up a list of the topics covered over the last year, would someone who has never met you “get” what it is you do?

This is especially an issue with newer agents. They tend to just jump into what they know and figure they will specialize later. And their social media posts and marketing reflects that limited knowledge. So, you may wondering, what’s the harm? Let me share a couple of real stories with you that illustrate the point. Of course, all names have been changed to protect the agents involved!

Rochelle is a very busy agent but is frustrated that she is working lots of hours for rather small commission checks. She started out focusing on Disney (particularly Walt Disney World) because she travels there at least 4 times each year and knows it like the back of her hand. Even though she can make the bookings easily and loves helping people, the dining reservations and other planning that goes into a WDW booking was time consuming! So, after a couple of years she wanted to expand into other destinations where she can make more money. One day she saw a Facebook post from a loyal client showing off their suite on the Royal Caribbean cruise they were on. She was shocked because she booked their Disney trip every year, and they never mentioned a cruise to her. She followed up when they returned and found out they thought she was “the Disney Lady” and didn’t do cruises. Ouch.

Rhonda had a similar situation with a client, but her love is cruising. She has been on dozens of cruises and has a lot of loyal clients who also love to cruise. She ran into a client in the grocery story who was excited to tell Rhonda about the trip she had coming up soon – a 14-night tour in Europe. When Rhonda asked why she didn’t book it with her, she said she didn’t know she did trips other than cruises. The client was very apologetic and told Rhonda she booked it direct and didn’t “cheat” on her with another agent.

You get the idea. Each of these stories represent hundreds (if not thousands) of missed commission. That hurts no matter how well successful your business.

In both of these cases an audit of Facebook posts by these two agents showed more than 80% of the posts were about Disney for Rochelle and cruises for Rhonda. They had posted periodically about other things, but the vast majority were focused on Disney and cruising. What else are clients supposed to think?

When agents decide they want to expand their focus or add a new type of travel to their repertoire, they often attempt to educate clients with messages about how they can help with “all travel needs”. That statement is too broad. It doesn’t help. And that one generic message is competing against dozens of other messages you have posted on social media.

And it isn’t just the destination or type of travel you have to consider. You also need to look at the vendors you are including in your posts. Not only that you aren’t focused too heavily on one or two, but that they are keeping in with the message you want to get out to your clients. If you are focused on luxury family travel, you certainly don’t want to post about Carnival. Otherwise you are confusing your reader. And a confused buyer doesn’t buy.

But more importantly, you should be posting about the most important thing you have to offer: your expertise. That’s what sets you apart from online travel agencies (OTAs) and from other agents (especially old school “booking agents” who want clients to know what they want when they walk in the door so they can just “book” it). It is why you can ask for – and receive – professional fees. It’s what inspires your clients to refer their friends to you. How do you do that? Share your expertise by telling stories. Talk about places you have been or you are helping your clients go. Share those tips and tricks you tell your clients that you think everyone knows but they are so appreciative of.

The best way to make sure your mix of social media posts tells the right story is to have a calendar to guide your posts. That will help keep you from being tempted to fall back on what is comfortable, or the latest thing to hit your inbox from that favorite destination or vendor (because, admit it, you know you read those emails first!). Even if you just plan 30 days out, it will help you make sure each post is an effective part of a larger message. Keep your brand in mind at all times and make sure everything you post is brand-congruent. It works for big companies and it will work for you too!

Of course, this means you have to carve out some time to work on your business, not just work in your business. Make a date with yourself on your calendar and use this time to work out your plan. This time you put into planning your strategy will pay dividends. And that’s next week’s topic: how to determine your ROI (return on investment) for social media.