Travel industry professionals have predicted that companies will ‘think small’ towards social media in the future, according to a round table debate. Panellists said they expect social media and users to focus on a smaller network so that inactive contacts can be filtered out and key influencers can be encouraged. “We’ve all boasted to our clients of reaching 10,000 Facebook fans but how many of them are ambassadors?” asked Steve Downs, managing director of Juice Digital. “There has been a lot of research that shows the typical size of a tribe is 150 people. That rule extends to business and professional networking. There’s no way people can genuinely engage with 1,000 or 2,000 people.” Bob Atkinson from travelsupermarket added that businesses had to push past the sales pitch to become a place consumers go to for recommendations. “For travel businesses, it’s about finding the method, through whatever form of social media, that allows people to engage with you and influence each other and share genuine recommendations. We have to find a way to work like that without resorting to a pure sales pitch,” he said. Panellists at the debate, which was arranged by UKFast and included representatives from Manchester Airport Group and MMU’s Department of Food and Tourism Management, also expected social media sites to launch and die frequently.