Anne Majumdar

Think you’ve got your social media strategy down pat? Think again. Our smartphones are abuzz with new apps, features and possibilities as a number of fresh players come to the forefront.

Although Facebook, Twitter and Instagram remain the three main channels for many businesses, it pays to keep your eye on newer, emerging platforms.

If you’re wondering why, then let this Chewbacca mask act as case in point.

Using Facebook’s recently launched Live feature, amiable yank Candace Payne recorded her ecstatic reaction to unboxing the Star War’s character’s plastic head, popping it on and proceeding to howl like a wookie while simultaneously howling with laughter. The hysterical video hit a chord, not only generating views but got punters clicking on the buy it now button, proving that social marketing really can drive e-commerce sales.

Facebook Live is not the only one to watch.

You may have you’ve already dipped your toe into the blissfully temporary world of Snapchat, where friends can keep you updated as to their movements without the responsibility of etching the message into the Internet’s sticky web for all eternity. The message simply disappears from your news feed within 24 hours.

Snapchat Shutterstock

The formula is proving to be a popular one. The platform now has more than 100 million daily users with that number expected to significantly rise over the next few years.

Celebrities love it too – the Kardashians for example. These are the people that are wielding influence over Millennials, a demographic of growing importance to the world of travel.

Then, there is Twitter’s live-streaming video app Periscope which is also doing big things in the social media arena.

But why are these platforms so relevant to the travel industry specifically? Because of the immediacy that they offer, allowing people to share their experiences (remember SMOASTING?) pretty much as they are taking place, with the content coming thick and fast.

This is great news for you, if you can somehow get people talking about you or if you can draw inspiration from this wealth of user-generated content (UGC) and use it to your own ends.

If you’re going to take a more active approach, remember that posts must be frequent in order to cement your presence in this fickle, transient world.

It’s a chance to really get creative. However, despite the immense potential, many travel brands have been slow to catch on.

Snail Shutterstock

Even as Snapchat moves into maturity, the platform’s younger demographic means many large companies don’t see it as useful in generating bookings – these cool kids aren’t necessarily the guys that are sealing the deal by clicking in the right place and tapping in their card details.

On the other hand, other platforms such as Facebook have a more varied user base which may give brands better access to the types that are ready to make that financial commitment.

But don’t focus too much of immediate results. The Digital Tourism Think Tank suggests that those who take the leap of faith may benefit.

“Although the very nature of Snapchat means that advertisers and marketers can be hesitant about utilising it, early adopters could ultimately be richly rewarded for their faith in the medium,” it says.

“There is a mindset shift among consumers, brands and marketers, and Snapchat is playing a role in this, a role that will expand in the future.”

Companies that are committed to doing exactly that include Contiki whose long-term commitment to innovative visual content has seen it work closely with vloggers and embrace the potential of Snapchat.

After all, if you’re not moving forwards, you’re standing still. If you explore what these new tools can offer your business and always keep your eye on the latest new trend, you may stumble across just the solution your business needs and maybe have a little fun in the process.

Which channels are you using for your social media strategy?