As social media continues to mature, Facebook remains the firm favourite with travel brands for promoting their services and marketing their business. The platform allows travel agents to engage with customers in real-time, promote referrals and sales, and also drive traffic back to their website.
However many travel agents are often hap-hazard in their Facebook marketing efforts when trying to attract new business and keep users engaged enough so they want to buy from them.
With that in mind, listed below are some tips to help travel agents become more strategic when using Facebook and in turn become much more effective.
1. Determine Your Facebook Strategy
First things first, you need to know why you’re using Facebook, what your goals are, what you hope to achieve and within what timeframe. No goals, no strategy, nothing to measure, it’s inevitable you’re going to fail. To read more about determining a Facebook marketing strategy read, Without a Facebook Strategy You’re Going To Fail
2. Create a Content Calendar
This can be as simple as putting an excel spreadsheet together and mapping out the content you’re going to post each day e.g. Monday: Travel Tip of the Week, Tuesday: Featured Destination, Wednesday: Our Weekly Deals and so on.
You can also have theme weeks e.g. a Honeymoon theme is perfect around Valentine’s Day when loved up couples are thinking about weddings. With a content calendar in place, you know in advance the content you’re posting which makes the management of sites easier and more time efficient.
3. Use Promotions to Engage Fans
Create regular promotions on your Facebook page to keep fans engaged. You don’t need large prizes to do this, something small and on a regular basis can work just as well.
Prizes such as travel mugs, travel books, luggage tags and beach towels will get people talking and sharing your page which will help to organically boost your brand to new audiences.
4. Become Socially Devoted
Socially devoted means a focus on customer care and more specifically response time to user queries. The average response time on Facebook to a user query is 19 hours. By then, the user has disappeared and checked out your competitor.
At a minimum, you should incorporate an end of day practice to check for outstanding Facebook queries and respond to them. Also useful is downloading the Facebook Page Manager App to your Android phone or iPhone as you’ll get alerts direct to your phone when someone posts a query.
5. Schedule Out of Hours Content
Not all your Facebook fans are online during the day. You’ll find many check into their Facebook accounts after dinner when the kids are in bed.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to target this audience. Use the free scheduling option on Facebook or one of the social management tools like HootSuite.
Whether you have 2 or 22 staff active on social sites, encourage them to become involved in promoting your brand within their networks. Mind you, if your employees are not already advocates for your brand, you have a problem – but that’s another article.
Ask your employees for their suggestions regarding content to keep it fresh and relevant. Also make it mandatory that each time someone is away on a FAM trip, they write a review of the destination they’re visiting plus take some photos. You might need to do some editing to get it looking good for publishing on your various sites but once done these ‘real people’ reviews are far more popular with users than any ad you might put out.
7. Use Facebook Advertising
Okay so engagement levels have hit the floor but don’t despair or think it’s time to jump off Facebook as it is still the mostly widely used social network on the planet.
What’s changed is, Facebook is now a pay to play site. Since their IPO, Facebook is a public company with shareholders and the way they make revenue is through advertising.
It means brands who want to reach more fans need to buy Facebook ads. Right now, Facebook ads are at least 4x cheaper per head to advertise than Google ad words. There are multiple advertising options to use from the very easy ‘Boost’ post to the more complex Power Editor. If not familiar with the various ad options, now is the time to check them out.
8. Understand Best Practices for Facebook Advertising
When you create an ad, remember most users are on Facebook to catch up with friends so hard-sell ads appearing in their news feed isn’t going to engage them. Instead of directly promoting your business or special offers, promote the benefit or value instead.
Using questions in your ad is good practice as the ad will feel more like a conversation than a sales pitch. Keep ads short, snappy, and visually engaging. To read some more about using Facebook advertising click here
9. Re-evaluate Your Facebook Marketing Strategy
On a quarterly basis at minimum, re-evaluate progress with your Facebook marketing to see if you’re achieving the goals you set in place for using the site. Accessing the free analytics tools on Facebook called ‘Insights’ will help as you can see what’s working and what’s not on your page.
If what you’re doing isn’t working, change tactics. Brainstorm ideas and get creative about content. This will keep your Facebook page from becoming stagnant and boring for the user. It will also help to keep you from becoming despondent about your social efforts.
10. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Facebook is a great fit for travel agents, and a really good way of engaging with customers both new and existing. However, Facebook should never be the only resource you use for marketing your company and the services you offer.
Facebook is not a replacement for email marketing, a website or offline initiatives. It is a complementary marketing tool that when integrated within an overall marketing strategy brings the best results.
To your online success!
Carole Smith is an experienced coach and social selling specialist with a background of over 20 years in the travel industry. She has presented at travel conferences, hosted public seminars, and delivered training programmes and webinars for travel agents around the country. Carole is also author of the Irish Travel Industry Digital Trends Report 2013
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