Getting started on social media platforms like Facebook can seem like a serious undertaking for many business owners — especially those in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries who are busy every day helping guests make magical memories!
After all, effective Facebook marketing takes planning, patience, creativity, commitment, and resources. However, the question is no longer “Should we be on Facebook?” (because you must be on Facebook!) but, rather, “How can we use Facebook to build brand buzz online?”.
So whatever it is that’s holding you back from putting a Facebook marketing strategy into place for your business, it’s time to dig in.
Start by looking to those in your industry who are finding success on Facebook, and learn from them. Below is an overview of a travel marketing case study from our friends at MarketingSherpa featuring Costa Rican Vacations that we think provides great ideas and valuable insights for any travel and tourism business.
Costa Rican Vacations (CRV), a virtual travel company founded in 1999, offers “high-end, customized trips to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama” to a client-base located mostly in the US (marketingsherpa.com). And while CRV was an early-adopter of internet technology (the business operates almost completely online, with their staff of 100 working remotely from all across the globe), they were slow to get on the Facebook bandwagon.
Why? Based on their offerings (high-end vacations) and their target market (North Americans between the ages of 40 and 60), Facebook didn’t seem like the right fit. Eventually, though, the CRV team decided it was time to get their feet wet in the world of Facebook, and concluded that “the best way they could use social media was to persuade clients to advocate on the company’s behalf” (marketingsherpa.com).
So the decision was made to use Facebook to — of course — grow (and engage with) the Costa Rican Vacations community, but — more interesting, and ultimately more effective — to use Facebook as a tool for encouraging, collecting, and showcasing client comments and testimonials!
Here’s how they did it:
Costa Rican Vacations added Facebook to their overall online marketing strategy. With an email survey already in place and collecting client comments after each vacation, they integrated Facebook — and to great effect. Clients were encouraged (through the use of an incentive (a $100 Amazon.com Gift Card)) to complete the survey and share a testimonial via the custom Facebook tab they created. Once the testimonials were on the CRV Facebook Business Page, CRV staff kept the conversation going (the crux of all good Facebook marketing) — they started a dialogue, engaged the “commenters”, and thanked them for their feedback.
Those clients felt they’d been heard, they’d been invited to join the conversation online, and became brand advocates offering free word-of-mouth advertising — the best kind of advertising there is! CRV made sure to integrate these testimonials across all channels — embedding feedback forms on their website and showcasing them there as well: vacationscostarica.com/about-us
Once this system was in place, CRV reviewed and revised their tactics as necessary (crucial for social media marketing success), and they handled their growing testimonial collection (which was at 200+ at the time of printing) with professionalism. (It’s absolutely necessary to have a response strategy in place when you start to invite feedback from clients. With the great reviews come the not-so-great ones, and how you handle those can make or break a brand.)
By April of this year, CRV had seen an increase in referrals of a whopping 12% (marketingsherpa.com). Jealous? Sure. But it is possible to take the same keys to success CRV demonstrated and apply them to your own business’ social media marketing strategy. They set clear goals, put a strategy in place, and monitored success and restructured when required to keep momentum going. You can do this too!
And the Stir Tourism team is here to help.
Contact us today for information on our world-class travel and tourism strategic planning and online marketing services and start growing your brand online now.
Free e-Book: Travel and Tourism Internet Marketing 101 http://t.co/SW5nJAKuob
— Stir Solutions (@stirsolutions) August 9, 2013