Everyone involved in tourism marketing understands the potential of social media for reaching vast audiences and delivering inspiring content. Everybody can recite the facts: Facebook has a billion users; one in six minutes online is spent on social networking.

The challenge for people marketing tourism businesses is converting that enormous potential audience into actual “fans” and leads. Common knowledge among Facebook users is that consistently publishing inspiring, valuable, unique content will organically lead to a larger fan base. The reality is that businesses trying to quickly expand their fan base often become frustrated with slow growth.

Advertising on Facebook is a surefire way to kickstart your social media marketing. Sometimes just a small ad spend can pay dividends, both by expanding your social media reach and helping your business generate qualified sales leads.

To demonstrate the ease and effectiveness of advertising on Facebook, we set up a quick experiment to see how many qualified fans we could generate in a day with just an hour of labor and a $5.00 ad spend.

To test the question, we set ran an overnight ad campaign for a Bolivian hospitality company with a modest Facebook fan base. We created the campaign using the same five simple steps that your tourism business should follow to create a Facebook campaign:

1. Determine your goals

Our primary goal was to generate Facebook fans. Of course, since a single “fan” has very little measurable value, our secondary goal was to convert each new fan into a qualified marketing lead. Depending on your strategic objectives, other goals may be driving website traffic, converting more bookings, or simply promoting your brand in new markets.

2. Define your audience

Our audience for the experiment was broadly defined as sophisticated, English speaking travelers planning or on a trip to South America, who are considering a trip to Lake Titicaca (where we have a hotel).

Part of Facebook’s appeal for marketers is the abillity to target users based on very specific demographic and psychographic factors. We used Facebook’s ad generator to create a potential audience of about 125,000 people from our most popular source markets, who speak English, are currently traveling, “like” BoliviaLake Titicaca or something similar, are college educated and middle aged. Facebook will only show our ad to people who meet these criteria.

3. Create an offer

We determined that for our audience, a valuable resource would be a comprehensive guide that would help them plan their trip to our destination. Since we already had this resource created and available on our website, we determined that our offer would be a free copy of this destination guide.

Other offers we could have used would be deals or discounts like buy-one-get-one-free, X% off, limited time offers, etc. The beauty of offering our destination guide is that we did not have to discount the value of our product but were still able to offer value to our audience.

4. Promote your offer

To promote our offer, we launched our $5.00 advertisement. The trick with any advertisement is to demonstrate the value of your offer succinctly and to include a compelling call to action. Facebook limits the number of characters you can use to 90 characters, with a 25 character headline.

Since our goal was to create “fans” out of Facebook users who saw value in our offer, we pointed the ad at a special landing page we created using a free, simple tool called Hike. There are many different options for WYSIWYG Facebook tab creators. We went with Hike simply because it’s free and easy to use.

When someone clicked on the ad, they were sent to our landing page, where- if they “liked” our Facebook page- they were redirected to a landing page on our website. There, they converted into a marketing lead by completing a form and downloading the offer.

5. Analyze and improve your campaign

So, what were the results of our $5.00 campaign?  The ad ran for about 24 hours, during which nearly 13,000 people saw the ad an average of twice each, for a total of about 26,000 impressions.

Of those who saw the ad, 28 people clicked on it and 13 of them converted into fans. This works out to a click-through rate around 0.1%, which isn’t great. On the other hand, we only paid about $0.38 per fan. Of these 13 fans, nearly all converted into sales leads.

If only one of these leads converts into a $100 booking, then we would enjoy a 1900% ROI on our $5.00 investment (less one hour of labor to set up the campaign).

This article has been reposted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Social%20Media%20Marketing?start=10

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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