The vast majority of social media users — 80 percent, to be exact — prefer to connect with brands through Facebook, according to HubSpot's State of Inbound Marketing report. On top of that, the same report shows that social media has a 100-percent higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing efforts. In other words, Facebook is one of the best tools you can be using to generate more bookings for you business. So start sharpening that tool by honing in on your Facebook marketing efforts and fine-tuning your page with fresh, relevant content.
To ensure you take the correct approach to this social media platform, here are six Facebook marketing mistakes tour and activity operators need to avoid.
1. Not Responding to Posts and Comments
Unlike, say email marketing, Facebook provides a golden opportunity to not only reach potential customers, but to fully interact and engage them. Don't view Facebook as a mega-phone from which you shout to be heard more. Think of it more as a two-way radio that allows both you and potential customers to let one another know what's happening. In other words, in addition to posting timely content, take the time to check in to see how your fans are responding, commenting on and liking anything your fans post.
Keep in mind that people may post both positive and negative comments on your page so it pays to pay attention — SproutSocial.com reports 71 percent of complaints on social media are made on Facebook alone. Your customers could be complaining about anything from technical issues with the website, a bad tour or activity experience, or just sharing a photo of a great experience they had with one of your tour guides. Your goal (as we've detailed) is to acknowledge their comments professionally and take steps to resolve a bad situation if necessary.
What You Can Do:
Get into a routine of monitoring your Facebook page regularly and responding to comments or questions promptly — preferably within the hour, as 42 percent of customers complaining on social media expect a 60-minute response time, according to Convince&Convert. You could delegate all Facebook tasks to a single employee or manage the account yourself by subscribing to all activity via email.
2. Posting Too Frequently
While you may have something to say or share with your Facebook fans on a daily basis — and even multiple times a day — refrain from posting too frequently just to get something out there. Peter Shankman, author of Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World, tells Mashable that it's best to limit the number of Facebook posts if you really want to engage your audience. He also advises against being repetitive. Posting the same photos, updates, or videos just to engage your audience could make some of your fans block your page or unfollow you entirely.
What You Can Do:
Plan on posting between five and 10 posts per week, say the experts at Socialbakers. If you find yourself posting fewer than two posts a week, you might struggle to fully engage with your audience. On the flip-side, posting more than twice per day can make you lose your audience. In addition, change up the types of content you post so that you don't bore your audience. Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours does a great job with this by posting a variety of content including articles, random photos from various tours, videos, and non-visual content. La Jolla Kayak invites guests to join the fun on various adventures by posting photos and a brief intro to the tour experiences they offer. The combination of strong visuals and creative copy makes it an interesting page to follow.
3. Posting at the Wrong Time
Do you time your posts throughout the week or just update your page randomly on any day and at any time? Maximize your Facebook marketing efforts by making sure you post when the majority of users are actually online and tuning in to their Facebook newsfeed. The bit.ly blog reports that the highest traffic occurs in the middle of the week between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., and it's best to avoid posting on weekends since fewer people are on Facebook on those days.
What You Can Do:
Whether you manually post your updates or use scheduling programs like HootSuite to automate the entire process, make sure your most interesting and important posts go live during the late afternoons on weekdays. You want to generate as much interest from prospective customers and existing fans as possible. Updating your page during these times with video clips of tours you offer, high-quality photos, or simple messages spotlighting a tour or activity could help you drive more traffic to your website and increase your bookings.
4. Neglecting to Use the Facebook Reviews Feature
According to Stikky Media, 70 percent of global consumers say online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising — with word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family being the first. When it comes to Facebook, people may be more likely to tune in to what you have to offer when they see positive reviews posted by friends or a list of glowing reviews from satisfied guests.
Facebook offers businesses the option to maintain a reviews section on its page where fans can give you a star rating and write about their experience. This is an adaptation of the former "Testimonials" tab that was adopted by many companies a few years ago. Marketing Sherpa reports on how Costa Rican Vacations took full advantage of this feature and acquired more than 200 testimonials as a result. Since the reviews and ratings are posted publicly, the review gets posted not only on your page, but also appears in the guest's news feed where their friends and fans can see them.
What You Can Do:
Make sure you turn on the Reviews feature and encourage guests to post a Facebook review after their visit. You could even send a link to your Facebook page in a follow up email encouraging the guest to write a review and offer incentives to those who do participate. We shared some tips on how to ask for online reviews without annoying your customers here.
5. Only Posting Your Own Content
Consider how many guests take pictures during a tour and post them to social media. You can encourage guests to share those photos with you or tag your company on their public posts so you can share them on your page as well. The Tourism Australia social media team has made full use of user-generated content to attract a following of more than 4 million Facebook fans. They treat their fans as brand ambassadors and encourage people to share their best photos to promote them on their social media channels.
What You Can Do:
Showcase user-generated content regularly, such as fan photos and video clips. Make sure to tag the guest who shared that piece of content so they are eager to share their moment in the spotlight with friends and social connections on their own. This is a great way to promote your business and show your guests you care about their experience.
6. Neglecting to Offer Booking Options Directly Through Facebook
When you've worked so hard to capture your audience's attention and keep them engaged, make sure it's equally as easy for your audience to go ahead and book that exciting tour or activity with your company.
Rainforest Adventures has set up a Facebook Store with a highly-visible "Book Online Now" tab redirecting visitors to a checkout page after selecting from different products and options. You can set up something similar so that Facebook fans and visitors interested in what you have to offer do not have to click through to your main website to book.
What You Can Do:
Use an online booking software program to coordinate all online bookings so that interested guests can just click through and make their reservation without a hitch. You can list all of your popular tours and packages right on your Facebook page and connect the checkout process to the online booking software program for a seamless checkout experience.
Facebook can be one of the most valuable social marketing tools available for your tours and activity business. Make sure you're taking full advantage of its features and creating a high-impact marketing strategy that generates more bookings season after season.