Skift Take

McCabe's advice is the Facebook company line, of course, but it's worth a listen given the power of the social network.

Many travel companies want to do something on Facebook, but they don’t necessarily have a clue what to do.

Travel companies may want to throw their resources into quickly building up their Facebook fan base and engagement by running a sweepstakes, but that’s a bad strategy.

That’s the view of Facebook’s new head of travel, Lee McCabe, who says such sweepstakes generally deliver low-quality leads, people who are merely interested in winning a prize.

“Focus on your existing customers, and make them fans on Facebook,” McCabe told Skift   “You then build an army of brand advocates who’d be very happy to share stories on Facebook.

McCabe, of course, runs Facebook’s travel advertising efforts so the message fits well with the social network’s advertising goals.

Instead of running a sweepstakes, McCabe recommends that travel companies use a new Facebook product, Custom Audiences, which was launched last Fall.

Custom Audiences enables travel companies to use their customers’ email addresses, phone numbers, and/or Facebook user IDs to find them on Facebook.

The data matching is free, but then companies “reach them [customers on Facebook] with the right ads at your standard rate card or auction prices,” Facebook states.

McCabe has a few other do’s and don’ts to offer to travel companies.

» Keep It Basic

Some companies think that social media and social marketing is overly complicated, but “I don’t think it’s that hard,” McCabe says.

“Do the things you’ve done well for the last hundred years,” he says, mentioning branding, promotions, sales conversions, and rewards.

And, of course, then comes the pitch for Facebook Exchange, the social network’s retargeting product, to help companies along the way. If someone visits a travel site and doesn’t purchase a flight, the company can use Facebook Exchange to bid and then show a related ad on Facebook.

» Public Relations Has Its Limits

Social media efforts should get integrated across departments and shouldn’t be the exclusive reserve of the public relations department, McCabe argues.

» Build a Facebook Page

No surprise here, but McCabe points out that as Facebook builds more products such as Graph Search, which is in limited beta, companies need to have a Facebook page or “you won’t show up.”

And, your page should attract lots of likes and check-ins, and be regularly updated, or otherwise it will appear “pretty low” in the results.

Like it or not, that’s the Facebook way.


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Tags: facebook, marketing

Photo credit: Getting lots of Facebook likes through a sweepstakes is not the most effective strategy if your company is looking for long-term brand advocates.

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