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Why Your Tourism Business Should Not Abandon Facebook in 2015

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Why Your Tourism Business Should Not Abandon Facebook in 2015

Why 2015 Is Not the Year for Tourism Businesses to Abandon Facebook

I’m sure you’ve seen the stats and the scaremongering. Back in 2011, Facebook marketing guru, Mari Smith, wrote on Social Media Examiner that “some studies show that a whopping 90% of users don’t return to a fan page once they click the like button”.

Last year, there was a Social@Ogilvy study of over 100 brand pages, saying that on average, 6% of fans saw any organic posts and for brands with over 500,000 fans, this number was as low as 2%.

These figures are likely to startle small businesses in particular.  Many of us have invested countless hours into building up a Facebook Page … sometimes as a quick and easy (and free) way of getting an online presence. There are still some businesses that only have Facebook Pages – they don’t have their own website.

In November, Facebook announced, following a survey of their users, that they would be changing their News Feed algorithm (again!) and that from this month (January 2015), “Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time”.

Fall significantly? Surely it can’t fall much further than 2-6%? Or can it?

Now before everyone hits the Panic button and jumps ship to other social media networks, here are some things to consider.

Panic Button on Keyboard

What makes a Facebook post “overly promotional”?

Straight from the horse’s mouth, a promotional post is a:

  • Post that solely pushes people to buy a product or install an app
  • Post that pushes people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  • Post that reuses the exact same content from ads.

Facebook "Thumbs Up" Inside a "Banned" Circle, to represent what Facebook does not like

I can understand Facebook users‘ aversion to the first and third points, but I had to put some thought into the second point. I concluded that Facebook no longer wants businesses to post a contest and attempt to promote it organically if they’re just trying to get more fans.

Context to me means being open about the purpose of the competition. For instance, are you running the competition to get an insight into your customers’ pain points for future blog topics and posts or are you trying to grow your list? What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) is very important – Personally, if I think that the Page Owner stands to gain more from my entry than I will (or if I feel that the effort expended to enter outweighs the odds of my winning), then I generally won’t bother.

If you’re saying to yourself: “This doesn’t matter. Most of my posts are not promotional. I only post promotional content occasionally …” then you need to know that Facebook plans to reduce a Page’s overall organic reach for all content over time, not just for special offers. So, avoid words like “Buy”, “Like”, and “Share”.

The picture I’ve painted above seems pretty bleak.

Why should my tourism business maintain a Facebook Page in 2015?

  1. To discover and empower your Brand Ambassadors – these are the Facebook Fans who LOVE your business and can’t wait to tell the world how wonderful you are … do whatever you have to do offline, before, during and after your customer experiences your product, to get them promoting you from their personal profiles.
  2. Customer Service and Prospect Engagement – Facebook remains a great place to answer those frequently asked questions pre and post-sale and to participate in meaningful conversations around shared interests. Show your customers that there are real people behind your business.
  3. Content Marketing – If you haven’t already, start a blog on your tourism website and post links to it on your Facebook page, with an engaging image or video, to drive prospects and customers back to your website. In the words of one of my favourite marketing podcasters, Timbo Reid of Small Business Big Marketing, just “be helpful”.
Keep Calm And Post Compelling Content!

Image created at KeepCalmStudio.com

How to Continue To Grow a Substantial Facebook Community Organically

In the interests of openness, you can see from my own Facebook Page that I haven’t implemented many of the suggestions below myself yet. As with most solopreneurs, it’s a time issue, more than anything. But, enough of my excuses.

Another of my favourite podcasts, Mike Stelzner’s Social Media Marketing, interviewed Holly Homer of the Quirky Momma Facebook Page, which currently has 1,177,802 likes. Wow! This even amazed me, because when this podcast episode was published, at the end of July last year, Quirky Momma had ‘only’ 530,000 fans – the vast majority of which, apparently, they have grown organically.

Holly’s strategies include posting 26 times in a 24-hour period, with two-thirds being other people’s content and one-third her own. She also asks her fans to submit questions (by messaging the page) and then she posts them and gets her fans to answer them.  Some of you may think “26 times every 24 hours? Won’t my fans get sick of me?” But remember, with the different times that people are online and the previously mentioned organic decline even before the promotional posts announcement, that most of her fans probably only see 3-4 of her posts in their newsfeed per day.

Holly says the most important metric to measure is not your reach, but your ‘talking about this’ number. You can find this by clicking on the ‘Likes’ tab on your page.  In fact, you can even do a bit of spying (oops, I mean competitor research) by checking out the business pages in the same niche as you.

Tourism Australia's Facebook Page Insights, with 442,725 People Talking About This

Other strategies to try are to stop all text-based status updates and post mostly visual content – remarkable imagery and native, Facebook-hosted videos, which always get a little extra boost in the News Feed, compared to their YouTube and Vimeo cousins.

Constant Contact suggests looking at your top-performing posts for 2014 within your Facebook Insights and using 3-5 of the best as a model for your 2015 Facebook content strategy.

Buffer advocates going against the grain and posting at non-peak times, since there is possibly less competition and if your post gets a little bit of engagement off-peak, then maybe it will give it the edge required to pop up in your fans’ News Feeds at the beginning of your peak period, ahead of posts that have just been published.

Some Australian tourism brands that I believe are doing a good job on Facebook

A recent YHA Australia Facebook Post saying "Wish You Were Here" with a picture of the Whitsundays. This post got 119 Likes, 1 Comment and 3 Shares.

A recent YHA Australia Facebook Post

NB. Full disclosure – I used to work for both Top Deck and YHA. But having said this, I finished with YHA in 2012 and Top Deck in 2005 – both well before they stepped up their Facebook marketing activities and I’ve been consistently impressed with the content they are publishing.

The Elephant in the Room: Facebook Ads

Whilst there are plenty of cynics who say the only reason Facebook is making these changes is to benefit their bottom line and please their shareholders, my personal opinion is that the Facebook Advertising platform is one of the most cost-effective and targeted forms of advertising currently available. So what if they are trying to boost their profits? Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do? Come on cynics … be honest with yourselves … perhaps these comments are just a bit of tall poppy syndrome or envy?

But, the key to using Facebook ads is doing it right, which will be the subject of a future post.

So for now, consider trying some of the tips I’ve suggested above and think about putting aside a small advertising budget for your social media marketing efforts in 2015.
Australian tourism operators have a wealth of amazing visual content to share on all platforms.

Don’t let these changes scare you away!

Call to Action Box Saying "Please Join In The Conversation Below! I'd Love To Hear Your Point Of View!"


About the Author:

Purple Patch Marketing provides online marketing and copywriting services to small businesses in the Australian travel and tourism industries. With over 10 years experience within the international and domestic tourism industry and 7+ years experience in digital marketing, Fiona Allan can help you to get your tourism business found online.
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