Facebook has been an integral part of a successful marketing strategy for the travel and tourism industry for years. With 1.37 billion daily active users on average, it’s no wonder travel & tourism brands have dedicated time and resources to promoting their business on Facebook. However the beginning of 2018 has seen the social media platform undergo large changes - meaning that all Facebook pages are going to have to rethink how they use Facebook if they want to reach customers and get attention in the newsfeed.
How Is Facebook’s News Feed Changing?
Facebook’s New Feed provides users with a stream of content from friends, brand pages, groups and advertisements. With so much content to sift through, Facebook’s algorithm weighs these posts and decides which ones to post first (or not post at all).
Brands have been witnessing a declining reach of Facebook Pages for years, with the number of posts seen in the News Feed organically declining year-over-year, but January 2018’s algorithm update will see this trend reach its peak.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the change in this message, outlining the fundamental nature of the shift - decreasing content from brands that appears in News Feed and increasing content from friends and family.
Of priority is “meaningful social interactions”, which Zuckerberg encourages brands to create.
What Is A “Meaningful Social Interaction” Anyway?
Meaningful social interactions are taking the centerstage as the new buzzwords of Facebook marketing in 2018. Engagement in the form of likes, short comments, and shares will no longer have as much weight in the algorithm as they did before.
Content will now need to start meaningful conversations between users, with long comments being valued over short comments.
What About Video? 2017 was the year of video on Facebook, with native videos getting a ranking boost. This update will change that however, as Facebook seeks to reduce “passive” interaction in favour of “live” interaction.
Brands should heavily consider Facebook Live as a way to reach customers in the News Feed. Some brands like Live On Air stream the entire restaurant experience, including events.
User intent will also heavily factor into the ranking of videos. If the video content you’re creating resonates enough with your audience that they seek your brand’s content - whether through the Facebook Search Bar or by directly visiting your Facebook page - these videos are also likely to perform well in the News Feed.
Why Should Travel & Tourism Brands Care?
These Facebook algorithm changes will affect almost all Facebook pages that are currently posting content. Every hotel, restaurant, tourism operator, and transportation service that uses Facebook to reach customers will see lower organic reach, resulting in less people seeing the post. Does this mean it’s time to throw in the towel on Facebook? Should brands give up on Facebook? Luckily this update doesn’t signify the death of Facebook as a viable marketing platform for travel & tourism brands, but rather marks the need for a new Facebook marketing strategy.
How Can Travel & Tourism Brands Adjust Their Facebook Strategy?
A successful Facebook marketing strategy for 2018 is all about creating real engagement with fans through storytelling. Gimmicks like “engagement bait” will be demoted in News Feeds. Avoid erroneously asking people to vote, share, react, tag, like or comment for the sake of engagement. These posts will no longer have their desired effect.
Tips & Ideas For Travel & Tourism Brands
- In the same way that you ask for ratings on review platforms, add a Facebook call-to-action for customers to add you to their “See First” list on Facebook.
- Encourage customers to visit your Facebook page by themselves by offering discounts on food or beverages for check-ins
- Create visual cues both online and in-house by teasing events and sneak peaks from your Facebook page.
- Go behind-the-scenes of your business. Facebook Live is the perfect platform to showcase videos of your most VIP room or your best bartender showing off his moves.
- Share guest photos on your page and encourage guests to tag your business in their photos.
- Share local events in the community. If you’re known for having information that customers are looking for, they will flock to your Facebook page.
- Add Facebook Messenger to your website to integrate real-time chat and get your Facebook page exposure.
What About Facebook Advertising Budgets?
With organic reach declining, more and more brands will likely respond with increasing their Facebook advertising budgets. All-in-all, expect your investment in Facebook ads to increase. If your ad content is engaging and follows the new guidelines, it’s likely that your ads will bring better results due to better engagement (more clicks to your website, bookings, and long-form comments). You can read more about what changes to expect with your ad campaigns here.
Facebook retargeting is another strategy that will help you to get around increased competition on the platform, as these ads enable you to target a highly engaged audience: one that has already interacted with your website. These ads are easy to setup with the Facebook Tracking Pixel.
Diversify Your Social Media and Digital Strategy
Big shake-ups in any one social media platform can happen any time, which is why it’s always important to make sure you have an “owned” media presence with your own website and blog.
Now is a good time to re-evaluate your entire media strategy - is there an opportunity for your brand to use Twitter more effectively or dive into email marketing? Diversification will help you reach customers wherever they are and will make you less reliant on an individual platform.
Ready to explore new ways to reach customers in the digital age? Check out our upcoming Digital Transformation in the Tourism Sector program.