Like it or leave it, Facebook is here to stay. In fact it’s going places, deeper into the tourism digital space and onto so many more mobile devices, it would be frightening if it weren’t such an awesome prospect. Poised to pass the 2 billion user mark, that spells a whole lot of clicking action to get in on for a travel supplier with a brand to promote. The medium has gone from being regarded as a purely recreational social sharing forum, sometimes annoying and intrusive, to becoming an extremely useful tool for the travel industry. Time to go fishing in this global pond of digital content consumers who would be travellers.
Be in the space where travellers engage with travel content. Social media took one look at tech and knew this was the way to tap into human curiosity and vanity. But people have other needs too that are amply addressed on these platforms. It turns out, this is where travel discovery takes place.
With millennial respondents, 68% said they found their trip idea on Facebook & 42% said Facebook Messenger.
Facebooking remains a social experience – users visit the site to see what their friends are doing and have done, and to share their own news, wishes and interests. While this doesn’t in the traditional sense constitute a shopping expedition, you want to present your brand and use the platform to be foremost on viewers’ minds when they’re ready to act on their decision.
Outside of their friendship circle, people are inclined to support brands they like, followed by posts about special offers, discounts and competitions. However, they don’t want to feel like they’re being sold stuff. If your posts interest them, amuse or inform them, resonate with their beliefs, recommend something relevant to them, or speak to causes they support, they will seek you out and happily share your posts.
And they use the platform to be part of conversations. This is no glorified notice board to pin stickies onto – real engagement of the human kind is expected, and that’s what your presence and content need to convey.
It’s easy to understand that people respond better to personal accounts, because it shows them there’s personality behind the brand.
Apart from being entertained and learning something new, users love having the opportunity to voice their opinion about brands/products/content.
Everyone likes having their insights heard and appreciated.
If you mean to make the most of your Facebook presence, start by suiting up properly to look professional. Ensure your full contact details are inserted onto your company page About tab and be consistent with your branding and content across your content and all your chosen platforms. Your brand will be more recognisable and seen as trustworthy. Make it easy for traffic to flow onto your website or your other social media platforms by making those links visible. Put your Book Now button on prominent display for an added engagement dimension. In the final analysis, what you want to see is conversion as the fruits of your labour.
There will be opportunists and virtual empathisers who will only like and follow your page in the hope that you’ll return the favour, but there will still be plenty of useful engagement to measure the potency and effectiveness of your content.
The virtual permanence of digital content strikes me as its most valuable aspect – the fact that whatever you put out there will live online forever. And it can be consumed and shared at any time, over and again. Get your content mixture right and it’ll be grabbing attention, attracting new fans/followers long after you first posted. Provide the content that travellers want in formats they can enjoy.
What’s worked well for us include: 360 images/tours; humour; company or staff stories (people like to see whom they’re dealing with); video; client ‘wows’ (nuggets of praise presented as a quote or video); and, when we feature destinations and tag travel partners operating in the region.
But the main draw card is always going to be interactive content. Click on this image for an instant immersion.
Facebook enables image posts with links to other sites (like the 2 images above and below), that work well to provide the interested visitor more content to engage with. People like clicking on links – it’s like a journey of discovery for them to see what other gems you have in store to inspire them.
And they love moving images, so put video at the top of your content mix list. According to founder Mark Zuckerman, video is a megatrend on the same order as mobile, and this is why they’re furthering developments with virtual tours, live audio-only content and more.
In addition to the Slideshow format, other options include photo Album, Carousel and Canvas (a sexy melange of pics and video). These are easy to use and play around with until you find the format that attracts the most love. It also helps that you can choose to make your posts desktop and/or mobile compatible.
Post your special offers and use your languages. When you’ve identified an audience that you’d like to target, use paid Facebook Dynamic Ads for Travel to target them with focused content. You could create a custom audience based on viewers who’ve engaged with your page or specific content, on regional location, and depending on what action they’ve taken on your app, within a particular period of time.
Melia Hotels increased return on investment 6.7 times versus its legacy retargeting campaign when using Facebook’s dynamic ads for hotels..
If you have an account, you can even post the same targeted ads on Instagram to a specific audience and apply tracking to measure conversions off Instagram. Facebook allows you to cross-share with Twitter and YouTube too, proving that all in social media is connected.
However you choose to present your content, there’s one thing you can’t compromise on, ever: Don’t be boring. Your content strategy is meant to entertain, inform, solve problems and appeal to emotion. In fact, it’s not about you, it’s not even about your product; it’s about showing you care about the traveller. More value, less overt selling.
One way is posting blog articles with useful info or influencer posts from guest bloggers to add to your credibility.
Another way is to invite UGC onto your Facebook newsfeed and reviews of your page.
It says to your audience that your content is beneficial to them if other travellers can vouch for your brand.
The more emotional your content, the better! And no other travel story depicts emotion as honestly as the personal anecdote of another traveller.
Sell a whale-watching activity or similar? Try something funny and educational. Enhance your marketing collateral by polling your fans/followers for feedback to help you with product design or invite them to suggest captions for your pics and have some fun with it!
Facebook offers plenty of metrics to help you make sense of what posts performed better than others.
Put these all together and you’ve got what’s needed to tweak your content choices.
Speaking of likes, #engage like your business depends on it. Because it does. Likes and Follows may seem like a crazy quest for virtual popularity, but they’re indicative of your brand presence.
I could say that size doesn’t count but everyone loves being liked. Quality likes/follows are important though, so the next bit of advice will surely be welcome: solicit!
Ask and ye shall reviewed, commented on, shared, liked and followed. Starting with your existing fans and building on from there to Lookalike Audiences (the ones Facebook identifies as most similar to your customers or contacts).
Just add your own (or a suitable trendy) hashtag to a post you wish to promote, and ask for some #sharingiscaring.
Humans need contact with humans, but smart ones 🙂 Robots will not take over all our jobs. Messenging is a safe, convenient and quite frankly, revolutionary middle ground. A Skift study reports that around 400 million people use Facebook Messenger’s voice and video chat each month. It’s free for account holders, even across countries.
You can maintain the lines of communication between yourself and your audience, including prospective clients, very easily, in real-time. This is pretty significant considering that 53% of people say they’re more likely to do business with a company they can message, according to Facebook Business. As a travel supplier, you can provide scalable customer service that feels personal.
The social sharing giant that is Facebook clearly has a bigger business bite than its recreational origins might have suggested. And with the platform growing in audience and evolving in scope, investing more mettle in advertising tools, content formats and measurement tools, travel suppliers have a strong supplementary marketing tool to pour some resources into. The most telling feature of all is the fact that Facebook lovers the world over are increasingly using the forum to discover experiences and destinations to base their travel plans on. If you can engage them socially and solidify a trusting relationship, you’ll have them primed and ready to head over to your booking site for some action.
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