One of the “perks” in writing Travel Agent Diaries is the chance to try a new thing under the premise of having something to write about. In theory, at least, it feels right to experiment with some new marketing technique or office product in real time and then write about the experience. We can all learn something together and it might be interesting. Having an article deadline is not much different from having an item on a to-do list. It’s there staring you in the face—a figurative punch to get-‘er-done. This month I was planning to write about my ventures into social media advertising – especially Facebook. Unfortunately, the punch didn’t come soon enough and I didn’t start the process in time to write about it for this column. I’ll save that story for next time, but in the meantime, I will report on a couple of other fun things I’ve done with Facebook this past month.
I’m sure there are many readers out there who are quite proficient at the social aspects of Facebook, but also many who still find the Facebook business page a bit of a challenge. I have had a page for my travel business in addition to my private profile for three years now and I am still wrestling with its usefulness. How do I get people to like my page and what do I do with them once they like it? How do I get my audience to engage with the page by responding to posts and sharing them on their own pages? I don’t profess to have the answers to these questions, but I have had some success with these two things: posting photos and running a contest.
Somewhere I read that the posts most likely to cause readers to click “like” or to share are beautiful photos. I’ve tried this and I agree that it works. I get much more engagement on photos than on a link to an article or even on a question that I ask in an attempt to generate conversation. I post my own photos as often as I can and regularly change my cover photo with a new destination. A few weeks ago I created a Facebook album of customer travel photos and began asking clients if they would like to share some shots from their recent trip. They were all thrilled to share their images with me to use on Facebook or my website. I credit the photo to them by their first name with a comment that says something like “Thank you Tom and Sue for sharing this shot of the pristine beach on St. Kitts from your vacation last week.” Be sure to tag the photo with the location and also with your business name when you post it to Facebook. The extra bonus of adding photos to this existing album periodically is that users will browse through all of the photos in the album every time you post one or two new additions. Our audience likes to see pictures of dreamy destinations and to comment on them, so it is a good way to generate activity. I also find that my clients are more likely to “like” my page after they’ve submitted photos from their trip, even if they weren’t a fan before.
The contest was something I tried for fun. It grew out of frustration from receiving no new “likes” on my page in some weeks. I used the gifts feature on Facebook to reward my “likers.” Specifically, it was a Starbucks gift card. Doesn’t everyone want Starbucks card, even if its only $5? That’s a free Venti Latte, or a cookie or scone. Early one morning I posted a message on my page that the 10th person to like my page would be sent a Starbucks gift card. A buzz was created instantly and by 3pm that afternoon, I had my 10th new fan. The reach for that post was triple my average number, resulted in the single best day for my Facebook stats, and added 12 new fans on my page. It was a bargain for $5. I’d like to incorporate contests into my regular Facebook routine. They are fun and they offer a lot of exposure for relatively low cost. Right now I am thinking up contest questions I can use for prize giveaways.
Getting people to engage with a Facebook page is not as easy as it seems. But I am learning. Facebook ads are the next step for me. I’m currently working on some ads and hope to fill you in on a successful ad campaign next month. I’m also working on ideas for Pinterest and Twitter; and if I can keep the momentum going, I’ll be able to report on those as well. What have you tried on Facebook that was successful? Or a dismal failure?
Pam Hallberg is a travel consultant who enjoys arranging food and wine themed tours and cruises. She owns her own home-based business, Hallberg Travel & Tours: Creating Tasteful Travel Experiences.