Facebook continues to be a major opportunity for B2C travel companies and direct marketing organizations for national tourist offices.
Today we cover some of Facebook marketing tactics.
We’ll coverÂ case studiesÂ from 2012′s successful Facebook campaigns by Best Western, Tourism Australia, Kuoni, and other travel marketers.Â We’ll start with big brands and move on to organizations with smaller budgets.
1. Look “Down Under” to find the leader in social travel.
In December 2012,Â Tourism Australia, became the most popular travel page on Facebook. It has 4 million fansâ€”with more than one million likes added in 2012 aloneâ€”and reaches 1 million unique users daily. So it is a great model to study.
One tip: Note how Tourism Australia’s header image changes when a user “likes” it. Enhance your page experience the same way. When users click “like” on your brand page, have the page change dynamically.
2. Use the latest conversion measurement tools.
Last Wednesday, Facebook enhanced its conversion tools for marketers, meaning more insightful data. This is important because it can be difficult to properly attribute how different parts of a campaign contribute to a sale as opposed to just focusing on the last click that resulted in conversion.
Boosting interaction rates and igniting conversations can be critical to allowing for conversions “downstream” in the channel.
Case in point: In Sweden in 2012, Kuoni Group’s local brand, Apollo, launched a multi-platform campaign, creating a mascot for the brand in the guise of a Bruno-like, Apollo-the-Greek-god character.
The campaign started with video clips online, plus some local TV. Then it promoted the character, calledÂ Apollo Sverige, in a Facebook campaign.
The average interaction rate is 4% but the Apollo campaign has been 8.54%, or roughly double, and that lead to click throughs to its site of 5.53%.
More than 80% of users watched video all the way to the end. The share rate was 1%, or precisely 0.96%, which was double Kuoni’s expected rate.
3.Act “like a boxer.”
To “think like a boxer” means a travel marketer shouldn’t try to punch hard in every interaction with followers but instead throw a series of lightweight interactions (jab, jab, jab with content like “aren’t these photos of beaches pretty?”) followed up by the blatantly commercial offer (the hook, to use boxer-speak).
Again, the goal is: lightweight interaction, lightweight interaction, lightweight interaction, and then punch strong with a more overtly commercial offer. All the time, keep your voice and toneÂ conversational yet brand-consistent.
Facebook’s advice is that travel marketers become a good publisher of content that is popular in the newsfeed, because that’s where the biggest return in “earned media” and brand building is.
“3-day AIDA Cruise for â‚¬ 299 instead of â‚¬ 449. But only good until 24.12.2012.”
It was claimed by 65,498 people within three days, making it AIDA’s most successful marketing effort yet.
In early September 2012,Â MSC Crociere, another cruise line, posted a similar offer onÂ its own Facebook page, that also sold out in three days, making it the most successful of any of its digital initiative on any platform.
The campaign reached 8 million users. That translated into a lot of “Zuck Bucks.”
4. Learn from the most profitable Facebook travel marketing campaign of 2012.
In February 2012, Best Western launched a Facebook campaign that becameÂ the most effective marketing campaign on any digital channel, ever, according to a spokesperson for the upscale hotel chain.
The campaign, “Be a Travel Hero,”Â ignitedÂ a 20% year-over-year increase in revenue, a number that was in the 8 digits.
Key takeaways: A prize contest based on user-generated content wasn’t just run in isolation.
It was supported and cross-promoted by a series of organic engagements, (such as polls themed around the topic of business travel), and paid, targeted media at the demographic most likely to respond to the advertisement, plus re-targeting as visitors surfed elsewhere after visiting the social network.
Facebook has createdÂ a video case study about Best Western’s success, in which Dorothy Dowling, the company’s marketing genius, discusses how the effort was put into effect.
5. Use more images in your published content.
Images can tell a whole story more effectively. Ciaran Doherty, development marketing manager at Tourism Ireland, says that posts with striking images have performed much better for Brand Ireland than ones without images or with weak “stock” photos.
Images communicate at a more powerful cognitive and emotional level. Facebook says that images are 2.2 times more engaging than text, across content categoriesâ€”meaning, not just in travel content, on the social network.
6. Creatively re-purpose content you already have.
Many travel marketers already have a decades or more’s worth of messaging in other channels, from billboards to TV to brochures. Get a hold of the files and re-use the content for posts in Facebook.
Earlier this year,Â Air New ZealandÂ also recycled archived images it had used in previous, non-digital campaigns for its Depart-a-Californian,-Return-A-Kiwi campaign. Content repositioning it from billboards into newsfeed you have archived content let you take the low hanging fruit.
LufthansaÂ has also creatively re-purposed content to create Facebook news feed content, especially by posting images of its aircraft from over 50 years of archival history to great effect onÂ its Facebook page.
To prioritize, use this content audit template from John McGrory.
7. In 2013, your second top priority for social media should be promoting mobile activity.
Smartphones and tablets are where the users are headed. So do two things:
First, make sure your information is appearing correctly inÂ Nearby, Facebook’s new mobile tool.Â Usage is dramatically increasing for this tool, among travelers.
Second, If you have an app, use your Facebook page to promote it.Â For example, European metasearch siteÂ SkyscannerÂ has had a lot of downloads of its app by doing this.
Encouraging your users to adopt your mobile solution should be “job 1″ in 2013 because mobile users are bigger spenders and more impulsive. Whether you know it or not, your company is in a race to claim mobile usage leadership before your competitor gains dominance in the mobile space first.
There’s an early leader advantage, and the slot for mobile leader in your vertical is probably up for grabs.
8. Match your databases to Facebook’s.
Last September, Facebook launchedÂ Custom Audiences, which allows marketers to run more precisely targeted advertising campaigns.
Since then, it has been continually improved, making it easy for marketers to map their own customer relationship database with the data on a company’s Facebook brand fan base or potential customers.
You can also retarget website visitors by using Facebook’s Exchange tool. The social network says users are tyically retargeted within one hour of being on Facebook, so the lag time is short.
For instance,Â Hotels.comÂ recently integrated offers based on what its fans’ friends had relevantly posted.
Other brands have targeted their puchasers on Facebook through paid advertising, on the theory that past customers were qualified for repeat business and advocacy of the brand.
9. Think engagement, not just conversion at the last-click.
Why does that matter? Because that engagement level means Facebook’s algorithm will make sure any commercial offer they make will be amplified to the widest array of users as possible, organically, for free and in a message format that users are receptive to.
Don’t be intimidated by 50% engagement, however. Facebook’s DesmondÂ says 10% active engagement is great and worth striving toward.
Use multi-attribution to know which channels work and to avoid last-click attribution, which distorts the whole picture.
Travel stories are already the most-shared stories (42%) on the social network, compared with other life events like moving (18%) and starting to date someone (10%). The amount of information shared on Facebook doubles every year, according to “Zuck’s Law.”
You can become a part of that online conversation, no matter what your budget size is. You can be the local champion in your niche market.
NB: Image of tourists at Eiffel Tower is courtesy Villa Marketers. For more tips, see its article “Statistics Reveal How To Market Vacation Rentals On Facebook & Inspire 52% Of Travelers To Book“