Facebook is a powerful digital marketing tool for your tourism and hospitality business. Using it effectively, however, could become a demanding process. We’ve put together a list of do’s and dont’s to guide you in reaching your audience, posting quality content and seeing a return on your investment.
1. Plan your updates
If you’ve decided to use Facebook as a marketing tool for you business, it’s important to grasp the importance of keeping it alive. This means posting frequent updates (at least one a day) that relate to your market and content strategy. Decide who the right person(s) are for administrating your business’ Facebook page – they should have access to your marketing information, and understanding of your target market and brand personality. Most importantly, they should be empowered to post inspirational content. Remember, this role can fall on more than one person. Example – A lodge might want their guides to post wildlife sightings and guest activities to it’s Facebook page during the day, but could require the receptionist or marketing personnel to respond to comments and conversations around those posts.
2. Time your updates
Once you have made a decision on who will update your Facebook page and how frequently they’ll do it – it will pay off to do some planning around the timing of those posts. See, your content is basically competing against the updates of other businesses and brands in your audience’s Facebook news feed, making it important to do what you can to ensure optimal reach of your Facebook posts. Think about your market, their lifestyle, and when they are most likely to spend time on Facebook. The average working person might check their feeds early in the morning before heading to work, during a coffee break, over lunch, and in the late evening before nodding off. This will mostly likely look different for students, retired folk or people with a more flexible lifestyle.
Tip: Facebook makes it easy to schedule updates to be posted in the future.
3. Be visual
So, there’s this cliche but very true saying. It involves a picture, some words and a number that falls between 999 and 1001. Studies have shown that Facebook posts that contain an image, on average, receive twice as must engagement as text posts. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – images can trigger emotion, aren’t bound by a specific language or legibility, and above all they don’t require much thinking. As a tourism business this puts you in a very fortunate position. Be smart about the images you choose to use in your Facebook posts. While photographs of your product can be informative and encourage the decision to book with you, images of your surrounding area, destination or local events can spark travel inspiration and social sharing.
4. Spread the word
What is your great content worth if there’s no audience to consume it? It is important to incorporate your Facebook presence and to promote your page across all your marketing material. Start by ensuring proper integration between your Facebook page and your business’ website. Click here to read our article on successfully linking your website and Facebook Page.
5. Create conversations
This is crucial. One of the biggest benefits of Facebook (often missed by small businesses) is the ability to have real conversations with your guests, or even better, potential guests. Be sure to respond to activity on your facebook page as quickly as possible and always be friendly and helpful. Keep in mind that people who interact with you via Facebook do not necessarily want to be sold to, so be cautious about hard-selling (more about this later).
Tip: Use Facebook’s tag functionality (using the @ sign before typing someone’s name) to ensure that your responses don’t go unnoticed.
6. Use Facebook Insights
Committing to a well-managed Facebook page could require a significant amount of your marketing resources and time. As with any marketing exercise, measuring the results should be part of the process. Facebook provides all business with a free tool called Insights (accessible from your Facebook page’s admin panel). In a nutshell, Facebook’s Insights give you an overview of your Facebook audience, how they responded to your posts, and which posts showed the best engagement and results. Understanding this dynamic will help you better utilize the time you spend on Facebook marketing.
1. Make posts too long
As we mentioned in point 2, your audience’s Facebook timelines are crowded. Keeping your posts between 100 and 250 characters will increase the chance of likes, comments and shares.
2. Post in rush hour
Facebook is a hub for news and gossip – especially during global or national trends. This means that there will be times where Facebook is so flooded by conversation around a global topic, that your marketing message is likely to not get the reach and response you had hoped for. Recent examples of such trends are Nelson Mandela’s birthday and the birth of Prince George of Cambridge – probably not the most practical times to launch a social campaign or special offer.
3. Post negative content or being defensive
This should not require too much of an explanation. In hospitality we often see travelers misusing their online voice to unleash angry or spiteful comments about tourism products. As with Tripadvisor, it is important to remain calm and professional when dealing with social feedback.
Tip: It is strongly recommended to stay away from political or controversial debates or topics when posting from your Business’ Facebook page.
4. Be too focussed on selling
Let’s look back at point #5: Conversation. Even though Facebook is about conversations and social engagement, it doesn’t mean that it is not a direct sales tool. It simply means that it uses a different style of taking a guest through the decision-making and booking process. Some marketers swear by the 80/20 rule (80% humor, inspiration and conversations vs. 20% hard selling). While this could differ, depending on your business, it’s not a bad guideline to start off with.