Part 2 of 2. Read the first installment of this Blog here.
Now that Facebook has morphed into a primarily paid publishing platform for businesses, it’s time for every tourism marketer to pause and rethink your approach to Facebook and your wider communication and online strategy.
Here are six critical takeaways to consider in this review:
1. Update Your Social Media and Content Strategy.
In this new environment, it is time to review and refine your social media and content strategy. What is clear is i. quality content counts now more than ever, ii. Facebook needs to be run primarily as a paid media platform and iii. Facebook's management needs tight integration with your other online (and offline) advertising channels. Review and update your objectives for the platform. What does success look like and how will you measure ROI?
2. Quality Content Over Quantity.
For organizations with a significant online community – and a reasonable level of engagement, then impactful posts can still generate some level of unpaid, organic reach. The quality, not the quantity of posts, by your organizations counts more than ever in this new environment. Review your content and communication strategy for Facebook with an emphasis on top-performing content types such as highly engaging imagery, online video and fewer words.
Review your past posts and those of your competitors and peers to see what content has engaged most effectively. Leverage Facebook's Insight Analytics. Be prepared to “boost” your message when you generate some positive organic reach. The terminal decline of organic reach on Facebook is another reason to ensure your organization is investing seriously in creating engaging content about your destination or tourism business - for all your channels, including web, email, print and social.
EXAMPLES: Below are 2 recent posts selected by Theresa Overby, Content Director for Miles, working with the Louisiana Office of Tourism. These are examples of top performing posts on Louisiana's Facebook page that even in this new Facebook environment, can still generate reach up to 20% and strong shares, comments and likes.
“It’s all about understanding audience expectations and delivering content that is ‘golden’ for the destination. Define your critical messages and refine as you go based on analytics and community interaction.” -Theresa Overby, Content Director at Miles for Louisiana Travel
3. Forget Building a Community Organically.
The gold rush for Facebook is now well and truly over. If you are starting off in Facebook or wanting to dramatically increase your online community you will now need to commit a significant investment to advertising dollars. Content – no matter how compelling – can generate the sort of no-cost viral reach that was possible in the first few years of Facebook.
4. Facebook is Now Firmly Part of Your Advertising Strategy.
In this new environment Facebook is now firmly part of your paid online marketing strategy – and needs to be invested in, and measured, as another advertising channel. The good news is that Facebook has some highly targeted and easy-to-use advertising solutions for every budget. The integration of consumer data from partners such as Axiom has provided even more powerful ways to precisely target consumers based on buying behavior as well as interests, location and demographics.
Your Social Media Manager or the person who manages Facebook needs to be integrated into your online advertising strategy, and the results of your spend on Facebook assessed against your other paid advertising efforts. One tip - ensure you are using Campaign Tracking Codes in all referral links to your site from Facebook (from both organic and paid posts). This will summarize the results of Facebook traffic as a campaign in Google Analytics, alongside all your other online advertising and marketing efforts.
5. Review Other Social Media Platforms.
It is also an opportune time to review other social media channels. Solutions like Instagram (now owned by Facebook), Pinterest and B2B sites such as LinkedIn still offer opportunities for organic reach and community building efforts. All these platforms are also releasing new advertising options so plan to test these channels and compare results against Facebook.
6. Empower Your Visitors and Guests to Share.
Finally, encourage and empower your visitors to share their experiences via their social media connections. The viral reach of travelers sharing photos, video and experiences with their friends and family on Facebook is still real and impactful. Free WiFi, fun reminders (eg: special selfie or photo spots in your destination or hotel) and encouragement such as photo contests can all leverage social media and generated content.
Of course, social media has always been less about what you say about your destination or business and more about the conversation of your visitors and guests. A traveler sharing great service, special activities or unique sights is arguably the most powerful type of social media marketing you can do.
It’s a brave new world. Facebook is evolving into a new platform for tourism marketers – and your strategy needs to change.
Final Thought: Whether it is organic or paid, remember that you are sharing stories. Rich media dominates on Facebook because pictures and videos tell these stories quickly and powerfully. Focus on sharing exceptional experiences, sights and moments and you will still engage and excite your online community. This part of story telling - and social media will never change. More Resources
- Social @ Oglivy Facebook Zero - Considering life after the demise of organic reach
- B2C Blog: Using Facebook for Business? You Need to Know This
- Buffer Social: The Complete Guide to Growing Your Organic Reach
- Social Media Examiner
- Example: Louisiana Travel Facebook Page
- Two Six Digital - Dave Serino’s Updated Engagement Ranking of DMOs