NB: This is a guest article by Ben Harper, social and data insight manager at Zazzle Media.
With numerous brands actively competing for a consumer’s business with TV, print, and paid search advertising, the social channel can seem relatively uncluttered in this space, despite some arguing that the opportunity is massive.
The ability to put brochure-like images in front of a dedicated audience, or even to amplify these posts to people who have expressed an interest in certain locations or representative brands is simply unmissable, yet not all in the travel sector are taking full advantage.
We took a look at a number of UK-based travel brands to see how they are winning or losing out onFacebook…
So, first, let’s have a quick look at the main players respective sizes on Facebook:
To put these numbers into perspective, the following chart shows the audience sizes as a percentage of the total UK Facebook audience.
Thomson, which is the biggest travel company studied on Facebook in the UK, currently only has access to 0.81% of the UK audience, despite its large presence on UK high streets and in traditional advertising.
Combine the audiences of these brands and compare it to the UK Facebook audience as a whole and youâ€™ll soon see that the people who align around travel brands are generally slightly older on average.
When we look at this at an individual brand level, a few key points stand out:
- STA, naturally, over indexes in the 19-24 age bracket.
- 34.87% of Jet2â€™s audience is aged 35-44.
- Thomas Cook has the highest percentage of its audience in the 13-18 year old age bracket with 7.98%.
- Kuoniâ€™s audience is older than the industry and Facebook averages, with over indexation particularly prominent between 35-44 and 45-54.
However, size and age profiles are only relevant when seen in the context of page engagement rates. Engagement rates on Facebook affect Facebookâ€™s EdgeRank algorithm and subsequently the reach and success of a pageâ€™s content.
Over the last four weeks, Thomas Cookâ€™s engagement has been market leading amongst the brands studied. To be honest, this did take us by surprise as, with respect, Thomas Cook are typically not the quickest off the mark.
However, when you delve into its page the content is very visual, asks questions like “Guess the destination?” and keeps enough of the posts short so as to keep the audience engaged.
Below is an example of one of its posts that we particularly liked and had high engagement levels:
When we look at the engagement week-on-week however, Thomson has increased its engagement levels towards the end of the period studied whilst Thomas Cook has seen a slight decline.
For Thomson, the upturn has largely been down to some high performing competition based content over the past week such as the below:
So, who is “winning”?
In terms of which mainstream travel company is currently winning on social during this key booking period, we think the fairest way to show the social data is below.
Comparing audience size and engagement shows that the current leader is Thomas Cook â€“ whilst it is behind Thomson in terms of audience numbers, engagement is strong enough that each post is likely to be gaining considerable reach.
In terms of the rest, there are clearly opportunities for the likes of Jet2 and Kuoni, both have decent engagement but a small audience. STA Travel on the other hand has a relatively large audience, yet has the lowest engagement of the brands studied â€“ this may be down to an acquisition campaign which has brought in the wrong audience as the content seems quite similar to the big players.
What can others learn from Thomas Cook?
With Thomas Cook as our new found shining example for the other brands, weâ€™ve categorized its recent posts into similar content strands to analyse the engagement per post (note this is a different metric to the engagement figures above which are average weekly engagement).
This shows that on page competitions have performed particularly well in terms of engagement, closely followed by “audience interaction posts” (eg. “like if…”, “thumbs up if…”, “Snow or sun?”) and “couples recommendations posts” over the last two weeks.
When we look at the volume of posts mapped against the engagement per post the data indicates that a low volume of competition posts worked best, with a higher volume of “audience interaction” posts scheduled to keep the engagement ticking over.
This data would suggest though that Thomas Cook still has room to improve, with things it could try including increasing the number of “couples recommendation” posts as only one was posted despite having the third highest engagement level of the content strands used.
NB:Â This is a guest article by Ben Harper, social and data insight manager atÂ Zazzle Media.