How MSN Travel handles its Content Marketing
How can we create fresh, exhilarating, sharable content that really stands out? In a market where consumers demand ever more quality content, how can brands and content creators collaborate together? And what sort of content will see success in the future?
For the Travel 360 E-book we launched yesterday with Linkdex we talked to many brands, including MSN Travel, about how they approach this. Below you can find an extract of the chapter of the e-book which was written up after an interview with Gian Caprini and Jade Conroy from MSN Travel. They explain how SEO’s and content creators can work together to inspire online content.
How does MSN work with different types of authors?
This is an area we are very keen on at MSN Travel and we actively engage with travel bloggers and maintain an interaction with them. MSN created a ‘Guide to Outreach & Pitching Content Creators’:
Find the authors that inspire, or resonate with your brand. Study their online profile, what does he/she like?
Which social platforms is he/she active on? Is he/she following your brand on Twitter? Can you DM them asking for their email?
Is your content engaging enough? Can you provide exclusive stories or informative data?
We help them in ensuring their content is promoted across various channels, and they provide us with their creative input and content ideas.
A properly designed profile page can make a considerable difference for an authors online presence, and ensuring the correct links, tags and meta data are utilised can go a long way in helping search engines recognise who the author of a piece of content is, and what level of authority they have got.
From a technical point of view, the correct implementation of code and sharing buttons, and the overall integration of social, or sharing networks is essential in building and establishing a social media presence around your content.
Certain changes in the pipeline for automated rank based approaches to search algorithms are also things that will come into play in the near future. Writers and travel bloggers will be able to write across many different platforms and be recognised as the specific author for a certain topic across several different platforms. In the next few years this will become even more influential not only within travel but across many different sectors.
Brands should really be helping writers to become more established. Search consultants can help traditional writers, journalists, and travel writers with good reputations and a body of content to take full advantage of the online presences.
Ownership & Occupation of the Travel Ecosystem
There is growing a trend, in the online travel space, in which major brands, with strong market shares have established so centralised a position that they effectively monopolise or ‘own’ a particular segment of the market. This space can be clearly distinguished as a stage in the consumer journey.
For example, in the UK, ‘package holiday space’, is mainly owned by Thomas Cook and Thomson, fulfilling the ‘planning’ and ‘booking’ stage of the consumer journey. ‘Flights and booking systems’ which cater solely for the booking of flights or hotels will also be occupied by a number of well-known and established websites, such as Skyscanner, Kayak and Expedia.
All of these brands will produce their own content relevant to their own specific products. Some may whitelabel their content offering, such as in the case of booking.com and Lonely Planet, but all will be active in the production and publishing of travel content.
To produce content which serves the same space means competing for visibility with these large brands. This is by nature a difficult task, as these brands invariably have large amounts of consumer data (browsing habits, preferences, and click- through rates for example) that enable them to gain the edge in creating strong and effective content.
In reality there are many different strategies and a lot of players, but overall it is clear that different parts of the ecosystem are now ‘owned’ by particular brands.
Embracing the Niche
One interesting direction for growth is in the serving of unique, or niche content for travellers who are looking to travel off the beaten path in the inspiration phase of their journey, and ultimately, on the travel experience itself.
There has been a rise in smaller brands that cater to specific niche markets. Luxury travel blogs are becoming increasing popular, and there has been an emergence of more niche platforms such as Triptease, which offer a TripAdvisor type service but for a more specific and niche market. These sites serve travellers that are not interested in big brand hotel chains or tried and established holiday experiences, but prefer more creative or culturally diverse, unique experiences.
Whilst it may not achieve the same page targets as more evergreen content, niche content is important to cater for. An occasional piece on designer hotels, or alternative things to do in Paris helps distinguish the content offering.