A Social Net Primer – how to use Facebook in your travel business
Social network users made up 41.2% of the US Internet population in 2008. 60% of Internet users are consumers of all user-generated content (e-marketer).
The great success story for social networking in 2008 was Obama. Obama has 5 million Fans on Facebook and it clearly played a significant role in his campaign to win the USA election. Spurred on by his success, more and more businesses are using, or wondering how to use Facebook and similar Social Media services.
At AXSES, we began to track the Social Media a year or two ago. At first, it was the technology that we observed ‘it was going to change the way we communicate’, it was changing the Internet.
We began a Facebook project to see how we could use it. We became a Fan of Jennifer Figge, who is planning to swim from Africa to Barbados. Jeniffer’s manager contacted us and we put him in contact with the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA). The BTA launched a similar Facebook project shortly after.
Here is how it works: You sign up and then go about inviting friends who invite friends who might then become advocates and might follow your communications and special announcements.
Facebook is personal, so a real person, not a company, is expected to create a Facebook account. They may then add pages, photo galleries, groups and make comments which can be sent to others and seen on respective Facebook pages.
Facebook “pages” can be about company and products. In fact, we made the mistake of setting up a profile for the Barbados.org rather than a page, this, it turns out, may have some advantages (more details to follow). Many companies have also made this mistake!
In all, we quickly set up the following: A profile for the Barbados Tourism Encyclopedia (BTE) (http://barbados.org), pages for http://BookingsBarbados.com
and a photo gallery for http://BarbadosBoardwalk.com, to name a few.
We added Groups in several of these pages and started discussions on topics such as the St. Lucia marketing strategies, the pros and cons of dealing directly with hotels, etc.
We added RSS feeds, which will display our clients’ “Special offers” on Facebook. Anyone who looks and becomes a Friend of Barbados.org can elect to see these Specials directly on their own page. That is powerful!
4 million people use http://Barbados.org each year. If they choose to become a Friend or Fan of Barbados.org, they will see all our posts, news and specials. It will give us a useful way to communicate socially with travelers, on their terms, on their own sites and not with in-your-face advertising.
We plan to integrate Facebook with all clients and to link Facebook pages from our travel websites. We are now investigating how best to help hotels and operators use Facebook and all social networks.
Check back later to see our suggestion for a social network strategy for tourism.
Ian R Clayton, AXSES
See blog of this article for a bit more detail: