Kevin May is the editor and co-founder of Tnooz, which focuses on technology, digital marketing and web strategy in the travel sector.
We’ve been speaking to Kevin about how he has managed to put Tnooz on the map, reaching 80,000 visits a month after just eight months, impressive figures for a niche travel blog.
How have you managed to put Tnooz on the map? What lessons can other bloggers learn from this?
Tnooz was the result of a few months working behind the scenes to work out how we can be different from the other trade media titles out there (it wasn’t difficult) and then eight months doing what any web service with news at its heart should be doing: finding good stories.
Bloggers and journos (and there is no difference in our mind) should simply write good articles that people won’t be able to find elsewhere. We’ve had a couple of good breaks every few months with major global stories which have pushed us into new markets and also raised our profile in search.
What are the key success factors for a new blog?
Keep the content fresh, conversational (so as to encourage comments), edgy and, most importantly, relevant to the core audience. You also know that,because of search, you are likely to find plenty of random visitors. Also try and replicate what you as a brand do by engaging with people on their services and social areas. Spread the word.
How much content do you need to keep it fresh and relevant?
Ah-ha! No definitive answer here really. Obviously search engines like sites to be updated regularly with new and unique content, but suggesting that 15 stories a day should be posted (which we have done on occasions) is the answer is completely wrong.
There’s no point in regurgitating press releases all day when there is little to no chance of them being of interest and they’re being churned out by every other title regardless.
Is it about doing the basics well?
Absolutely. Original journalism, finding unique angles, guest (but not always obvious) columnists, relevant and useful guides.
In a way it’s no different from what any B2B publication should be doing, but in our world, without a vast newsroom or resources, we have to keep focused on the things that work. And, finally, never underestimate how helpful analytics can be. It’s a religion of sorts at Tnooz.
How have you used social media, in terms of integrating it into the blog?
We offer all the obvious social media functions through a simple static toolbar against each story (which took around 30 minutes to code), allowing readers to instantly post to Twitter, Facebook, Digg et al.
We have been able to try things quite quickly and easily to see if they work, such as having a feed on our tweets running in a box. When they haven’t worked out or waste space then we have simply turned them off, such is the wonderful flexibility of WordPress.
How have you used Twitter to promote the blog, and to encourage conversation around Tnooz?
Twitter and Facebook were incredibly helpful in the early days, but less so now as search has kicked in and other old school channels such as RSS and email have grown.
Ahead of our launch, and with no marketing budget, I posted messages pointing to our holding homepage which had a new travel-related image on its each day – “guess the location?”. This was simple yet effective, and certainly got people talking. Once we went live our articles were posted automatically to different networks which also helped spread the word about what we were doing and who we are.
Since then, sites such as Twitter and Facebook are where the conversation around our stories takes place, but neither are significant traffic drivers when compared to other channels.
How do you encourage community participation?
Controversial, but always fair and accurate, articles, leading questions and being first with the news. Nothing else works better than the basics.
The online travel industry has seen some significant changes in the last few years, what have the major trends been over the past couple of years?
Far too many to mention! We like to avoid using the phrase “online travel” as the segmentation of channels is increasingly blurred and travel businesses cannot exist by purely thinking of themselves as exclusive to one method of distribution.
That issue on its own is one significant change since I started writing about the travel industry in 2005. We’ve also seen social media come along in recent years although only now is the industry understanding how important it is to develop a marketing strategy with social as an equally important part.
Mobile is also a phenomenal opportunity and challenge for the travel industry. More recently (last week, in fact) Google bought a travel technology company for $600 million, its fourth largest acquisition, a move which could fail spectacularly or, as many fear, turn the industry on its head.
Many publications acted, by virtue of giving it such a small focus, as if the deal was simply a technology one, but I think it’s probably one of the most significant moves in the travel industry of the past ten years.