As Facebook begins its second decade, the social network is taking cues from consumers and businesses in the ever-changing digital environment as adoption rates of mobile devices accelerate, Internet connectivity rises, and new communication platforms and devices emerge (and perish).
Keeping up with the competition, consumers, and technology is challenging for all parties involved, but smart travel brands anticipated that it would only be a matter of time before Facebook built a large enough user base to start charging a premium to reach and target its community.
Currently, the metrics that brands depend on to show the engagement level of their audiences — page likes, post likes, shares, comments, and clicks, etc. — are being restructured. Facebook’s plan to make the News Feed more relevant for its users is pushing brands to target their content to a receptive audience and to weigh if these interactions have a business impact.
“Organic reach is not a concern for them because they have moved away from the word ‘social,'” says Lee McCabe, Global Head of Travel at Facebook. “When I first joined, most of the companies thought that it was about fans and likes. Now two years later, it’s very different. People started to realize that this [Facebook] is a business and marketing channel and the word ‘social’ to business is irrelevant.”
Travel brands be warned: This rupture will create inefficiencies and opportunities. Understanding the advertising products and having a team made up of social media and digital marketing members to better optimize ad spend will be essential for millions of brands that have a Facebook Page.
Being mindful of travelers’ motivations; how they feel during the dreaming, planning, booking, traveling, and reflecting phases; who and where they are from; how much they are willing to spend; and their presence and habits on Facebook are important bases to revisit and take a position on when re-evaluating content strategy and investment on the platform.
The good news is that social media is a channel where consumers are in the beginning, middle, and end of the purchase path. Maintaining a presence on Facebook is helpful in avoiding a dip in brand equity while also increasing brand awareness and purchase intent.
Despite the challenge of many businesses to quantify the return on investment (ROI) of social media, the direction is towards standardization. Marketing efforts will be focused on integrating online, newsletter, and social customer behavior.
Perhaps the death of organic reach, although painful to let go, is a blessing in disguise.