If you count on Facebook as a main lead generator for your travel service, you’re probably quite concerned about the announced changes.
Facebook has made it clear they are an advertising platform that you need to pay-to-play.
Forget about “likes” and building an audience, it’s all about how much you can spend to get your posts in people’s feed.
Additionally, the price of boosting posts on Facebook is going up. In their latest earnings report (Q4, 2017) the Wall Street analysts were extremely excited when it stated “the average price for Facebook ads jumped 43% in fourth quarter of 2017” (MarketWatch, Jan 31, 2018). Wow, that’s right out of your wallet! Yet, at the same time Mark Zuckerberg also admitted that “users spent about 50 million fewer hours per day on the platform.”
eMarketer Consultancy recent posted results of a study they conducted indicating “Facebook will lose 2 million users ages 24 and younger this year” (eMarketer, Feb 12, 2018). My guess is that this trend is gaining momentum and will accelerate to even greater numbers moving forward.
Dave Finocchio, CEO of the very popular sports website Bleacher Report, which is one of the most active advertisers and publishers on social media, recently said on Recode they currently receive approximately 80% LESS traffic from Facebook than two years ago.
The disturbing take-away about this statistic is that Bleacher Report is a big outfit. They have a staff of trained marketing professionals who spend their entire day creating interesting posts for social media . . . and they couldn’t make it work.
Maybe the novelty of Facebook has worn off and people are just ready to move on. Yet, while the platform does seem to be in decline there is still one heck of a lot of people who start and end their day with Facebook. So what should you do?
“It’s not personal . . . it’s strictly business.”
Measure the Impact
To understand how Facebook’s changes will impact your business we need to measure the amount of traffic it generates to your website.
If you have a website (which you should if you’re a legitimate business) you should also have Google Analytics installed to help you understand where your web traffic originates and which pages are the most popular. I recommend Google Analytics because it is the best small business web stats program and it’s totally FREE from Google!
However if you don’t have GA installed at this time, most web hosting companies have some form of web-stats they provide which can help you understand where your web traffic is being generated. While the instructions below are for Google Analytics, the same basic information is probably available from your web host stats program.
Our first step is to login to your Google Analytics account to measure your web traffic.
In the upper right corner, set the date range you that want to measure. Let’s look at the past 30 days.
Along the left column you will see a number of links that expand with additional choices.
Click on: Acquisition >> Overview.
You will now see a screen that will tell you how people arrived on your website. This will include organic search (i.e. Google Search), direct, social, email and referral traffic.
Now click on Social to see measure the traffic referred to your website from the different social media platforms. Were your efforts worth it? The stats don’t lie.
If you find that Facebook is referring quite a bit of traffic to your website, good job! Keep on doing what you are doing! If not, you must either budget funds to boost your posts or find another way to get your posts in front of people if you want to keep Facebook as your primary lead generator.
One way being mentioned to produce free organic traffic on Facebook is to participate in special groups dedicated to your particular travel niche. If you cannot find one, create a Facebook group for Caribbean Scuba or maybe a Culinary Travel Group or whatever other travel niche you are interested.
Others are saying to use your personal page to promote your travel offerings. I view this as problematic in that the opportunity to grow your business is strictly limited by the number of people in your feed and that you may become irritating to your friends as you constantly post sales promotions.
So What’s the Answer?
My guess is you may have found in Google Analytics that Organic Search refers the most traffic to your website. If you find organic traffic generates more traffic to your website that any other platform or social networks, clap your hands you have something to build upon. With a bit of search engine optimization (SEO) you can probably increase that Google traffic even more for your existing pages. Additionally, a decision to write more articles to post on your site will build even more traffic! This is the basis of content marketing.
If you see organic search referred more traffic to your website than social media, you may want to consider shifting your promotional efforts to Content Marketing.
Content Marketing can be loosely defined as writing articles and posting them to your website and also as a guest author on other sites like Medium, Quora and then using social media to promote those posts with a Read More >> hyperlink back to the article on your website.
The more web pages you have of unique one-of-a-kind content not found anywhere else on the Internet increases the size of your overall online footprint and ultimately traffic to your website.
If you dedicate yourself to writing articles, building an audience on your own merit, make the central focal point your website where the articles live, you can replace the traffic lost by Facebook’s changes.
Generally speaking most small business promotional efforts are geared toward enticing people to click on a link to your website where you can monetize the traffic by providing great content that showcases your knowledge and experience.
Your content should be presented in a fashion that sufficiently motivates people to reach out with a phone call, submit a contact form or sign up for your newsletter. Take a look at the image below to understand how your promotional efforts all feed your website where you can monetize the promotional effort.
Executing a Content Marketing Campaign
Let’s have some fun and take back control by generating web traffic from multiple sources and establish YOU as a leading expert in your travel niche.
What Should You Write About?
Write about what you know best . . . your travel niche. In a nutshell, a few paragraphs about what you talk to clients about on a daily basis as you help plan their trips. Posting travel reviews and advice offers an excellent opportunity to display your inside knowledge and experience about your specialty.
- Craft articles as travel reviews:
- Destination Reviews
- Supplier Reviews
- Tour Reviews
- Cruise Reviews
- Hotel Reviews
- Write an article about things to do at your favorite destination?
- What about a series of articles about all the fun things to do on your favorite cruise ships?
- How about writing a series of articles as a travelogue about touring in your favorite foreign country?
The point is that you are writing articles to position yourself as a knowledgeable travel professional in a particular travel niche.
Stay Focused on Your Travel Niche
The reason you must stay focused on a specific niche is that general knowledge is common knowledge found everywhere on the Internet. However, specialized knowledge is valuable and is what positions you as an expert. Because you position yourself as an expert in a certain niche, you are able to charge a larger fee for your assistance and will also help you attract higher end travel clients.
You have probably heard about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This pseudo-science is based upon creating articles and posting them in a format that Google likes.
The most important advice I can provide is to pick a popular three to five word phrase that people use to describe some aspect of your travel niche (a different phrase for each article) and craft your article around it.
Additionally, make sure you have that popular keyword phrase included in the article title. As a general rule your articles should be a minimum of 400 words and ideally about 1,000 – 1,500 words. You should include two or three pictures that you personally took. Take a look at this article for more about: SEO for Travel Agents.
Social Media Open Graph Tags
If your website is based on a Content Management System such as WordPress or Blogger, you have fields to add Facebook Open Graph tags and Twitter Card information. Open Graph tags allow the article title, description and associated image to pass through to the social media platform from the link to your web page. For more information about How to Add Open Graph Tags.
Promoting Your Articles Online
You’ve written your travel article and it is posted on your website. We now turn our attention to promoting it on social media and other platforms to generate traffic.
Start by posting your article to Twitter as the 280 character limit helps you create a focused and attention getting headline. Make sure to include a few hashtags (i.e. #Travel #Hawaii) for greater reach and always add a related image, preferably one you personally took and naturally a link to the article on your website. Once you build an audience on Twitter you will find it generates a lot of web traffic to the links you include in your Tweets.
Copy and paste the Twitter Tweet in to your Facebook page where you promote your travel services. Done.
Pinterest is an image based social platform which you “Pin” images on “boards” which you create based on a specific topic. You can also add a brief description and link the image back to your website article. Pinterest will surprise you how much web traffic it will refer one you have 20 or more images “pinned” to a board. The cool thing is that it is a really easy platform to use and requires little time at all to add images.
Create a profile on the website Medium and post your full article with a link at the bottom pointing back to your website. This user friendly website is extremely easy to use and will generate quite a bit of click-through traffic to your site. You will also develop an audience as you post more and more articles.
Quora is a social platform based on questions. You will need to create a question out of your article title. Then you can answer the question with your full article. Similar to Medium, you will also develop an audience on Quora as you post more and more answers to questions.
Post your travel & cruise packages on deal posting sites like our own Review Resorts Vacation Classifieds. This is a FREE self-service posting module for Travel Agents where up to 1,500 words and 4 images can be added to Sell the Experience. Each classified has a contact reply form for potential customers inquire about your ad.
Niche Social Communities
While the concept of social media is good, the “one-place for everybody social network” is going the way of the department store. Considering the decay of Facebook, an evolution toward niche social media communities is upon us. Look no further than the success of upstart sites like Medium and Quora and how they the segment posts into specific categories. This is why we started our Talking Travel Community on Review Resorts featuring Group Hangouts and #NoPolitics #NoHate policy.
The most productive marketing decision you can make is to commit to sending an email newsletter on a regular basis. The first paragraph of your article followed with a Read More >> link to your website and a nice image is the perfect lead story. Add a few special travel packages or tours and you have an email the people on your list will love.
Have you made building your email list a priority business goal? Email is widely known as the top producing promotional effort. You can add an email sign-up form on your website provided by your email service provider. Most of the large email services such as MailChimp and other provide a script you can copy and paste into your website to create an email signup form. To help build your email list.
A commitment to Content Marketing can establish you as a leading expert in your niche and provide a source of leads that will continue to pay off over the course of time. Each article you write provides a number of promotional opportunities to generate traffic to your website where you can monetize the effort.
There are many alternatives to Facebook. The Internet provides many opportunities for you to succeed limited by your entrepreneurial spirit.