Using Facebook for Business

As social media continues to mature, Facebook remains the firm favourite with travel brands for marketing their business. Facebook is the perfect platform for travel agents to build brand awareness, drive website traffic, engage with customers and promote word of mouth referrals and sales.

However, while it has huge potential for business growth, many travel agents are not using Facebook as effectively as they could. With that in mind, listed below are tips to help you become more strategic in how you use Facebook and in turn effective.

1. Determine your Facebook strategy
You need to know why your using Facebook, what your goals are, what you hope to achieve and within what timeframe. No goals, no strategy, you’re going to fail.

2. Create a content calendar
This can be as simple as putting an excel spreadsheet together and mapping out what content you’re going to post each day e.g. Monday: Travel Tip of the Week, Tuesday: Featured Destination, Wednesday: Our Weekly Deals and so on. You can also have theme weeks e.g. Honeymoons which would be perfect for around Valentine’s Day. With a content calendar in place, you know in advance the content you’re posting which make the process easier and more time efficient.

3. Use promotions to engage fans
Create regular promotions on your page to keep fans engaged. You don’t always need large prizes to do this, something small and on a regular basis can work just as well. Prizes such as branded mugs, travel books, luggage tags, and beach towels will get people talking and sharing your page which helps to organically boost your brand awareness with a wider audience.

4. Respond to user queries
No one likes to be ignored and yet the average response time on Facebook to a user query is 19 hours. By then, the user has disappeared and checked out your competitor. At a minimum, you should incorporate an end of day practice to check for outstanding Facebook queries and respond to them. You have the option to download the Facebook Page Manager App to your Android phone or IPhone which means you get alerts when users post queries.

5. Schedule out of hours content
Not all your Facebook fans are online during the day, in fact many will check-into their Facebook accounts after dinner or when the kids are in bed. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to get in front of these users. Use the scheduling option which is free to use on your Facebook page or from any other social site management tool you may be using e.g. HootSuite.

6. Get everyone involved
Whether you have 2 or 22 staff active on social sites, encourage them to become involved in promoting your brand with their networks.

Ask for suggestions for content and for feedback reports with photos from FAM trips that you can share on your site. Bring the human side of your business to your fans by introducing the team and sharing photos from events you attend, charities you support, awards you’ve won.

7. Use Facebook advertising
Facebook is now a pay to play site. Since their IPO, Facebook is a public company with shareholders and the way they make their revenue is through advertising. What that means is brands who want to reach more fans need to buy Facebook ads. There are multiple advertising options on Facebook from the very easy to use ‘Boost’ post to the more complex Power Editor. If not already familiar with the various ad options available, now is the time to check them out.

8. Best practices for Facebook advertising
When you create an ad, remember most users are on Facebook to catch up with friends so they don’t want to see hard sell ads appearing in their newsfeed. Instead of directly promoting your business or special offers, promote the benefit or value instead. Using questions in your ad is good as the ad will feel more like a conversation than a sales pitch e.g. ‘Need some sunshine on your bones?’ Keep ads short, snappy, and visually engaging.

9. Re-evaluate your Facebook marketing strategy
On a quarterly basis at minimum, re-evaluate progress with your Facebook marketing to see if you’re achieving the goals you set in place for using the site. Accessing the free analytics tools on Facebook called ‘Insights’ will help as you have access to lots of stats about what’s working and what’s not on your page. If what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to change it. This gives you the chance to brainstorm new ideas, to get creative about content which will prevent your page becoming stagnant and boring for the user.

10. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Facebook is a great fit for travel agents, and a really good way of engaging with customers both new and existing. However, Facebook should never be your only resource for marketing your company. It is not a replacement for email marketing, your website or print ads. Facebook is a complementary tool that allows you to reach out to a growing online community and when integrated with other marketing initiatives brings the best results.

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