Facebook has a secret
Will they really find you on Facebook? Turns out the answer is “not so much.”
Facebook is arguably the 900-pound gorilla of social media, and a small army of SM gurus (not to be confused with characters in Fifty Shades of Grey) have been telling us forever (well, for a few years) that we must, must, must have a Facebook “fan page” for our home travel agency.
If you’ve been following this at all, you are probably also aware that Facebook will sell you ads that will boost the number of “Likes” your fan page gets. The cost of this advertising can be surprisingly reasonable if you take the time to learn how to tweak your ads and actually do the tweaking. And those ads are demonstrably effective, rapidly building the number of Likes on a page.
But that’s where things get tricky.
In the minds of most normal people the theory of a fan page goes something like this: “I am a fan of Justin Bieber, the New York Yankees, and HomeTravelAgency.com. All of them have fan pages and I have “Liked” them all. Now, whenever any of these fan pages posts new information, I will be alerted to that fact in my Facebook feed, so I can continue my engagement with the personalities and organizations of which I am a fan.”
If you believed that, you’d be dead wrong.
If you have a Facebook fan page for your agency and invested time, energy, and advertising dollars in building it, you may be amazed to learn that only 15 percent of your “fans” will hear about any individual update you post on your fan page. (The actual percentage is in dispute and hideously difficult to determine. I have seen estimates as low as 10 percent and as high as 20.)
And this low percentage isn’t a function of people being too busy to check in on Facebook every hour or so and therefore missing posts. Facebook simply doesn’t show them your exciting new post.
What Facebook will do is take your money to “promote” any given post to improve its “reach.”
Whether promoting a post makes sense for any given home-based travel agent is open to discussion, but my gut reaction is that it doesn’t. The fact that Facebook only serves up information about your fan page to just 15 percent of your fans also makes me question the ROI of advertising to create more fans, especially for travel agents.
So does this mean it’s time to bail out of Facebook? No. But I think it means it’s time to have more realistic (i.e. lower) expectations of what Facebook can and will do for your business. After all, reaching 15 percent of your fans is a lot better than reaching 100% percent of nobody at all.
Here are some tips for how home travel agents can best use Facebook:
• By all means, have a Facebook fan page and make it look snazzy. Just don’t expect it to make you rich, which I guess is another way of saying don’t spend a ton of money having an “artiste” design it. You can find someone to create a decent fan page for $5 on fiverr.com. If you need to use three designers before you get something you really like, you’ve still spent just $15!
• Advertise it if you wish, but strive to build your fan base “organically,” that is one-on-one, face-to-face. Don’t be afraid to say things like, “If you like HomeTravelAgency.com, please visit us on Facebook and click the Like button.” The people you attract this way are more likely to support you than “fly by” likes generated by Facebook ads.
• Remind your client and prospect base that there is valuable information on your fan page that they may be missing. Your web site and your newsletter are good ways to get the word out. Which reminds me: “If you have “Liked” the HomeTravelAgency.com fan page and haven’t seen us recently on Facebook, click here to see what you’ve missed.”
• Always respond to comments on your fan page, even to say something simple like “Thank you.” If you can add to the conversation, so much the better. The more “engagement” on your fan page, the more likely Facebook will share it with others.
• Do whatever you can to increase “engagement” with your posts. Ask “Do you agree?” Ask questions like “Where do you plan to travel next?” Use cute or compelling graphics that will encourage people to “share.” For more tips, simply do an Internet search on Bing or Google for “how to increase engagement on Facebook fan pages.” (When I tried, I found Bing produced better results.)
• Never forget that social media will never be a substitute for building your business the old fashioned way — prospecting through personal contacts, qualifying, building relationships, marketing your home travel agency, asking for the order, making bookings, providing excellent customer service, getting referrals, and building long-term relationships that will guarantee repeat business year after year.
How you accomplish those goals is covered in detail in the Home-Based Travel Agent Success Course. Order today and receive ongoing access to all future updates. (See what I mean about asking for the order?)