September 15, 2016 #AskMeredith, Blog

Absolutely yes!  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must have realized by now the importance of using Facebook to market your travel agency.  But you may not be completely clear on why.  When you don’t know WHY you are using Facebook, you end up taking a “random shots in the dark” strategy.

A common mistake made by travel agents is to look at Facebook as a public relations tool.  So what do they do?  They establish a fan page for their business, inconsistently make posts about travel, (or pay an organization to make general travel posts), sometimes pay to boost their posts and then wonder why they have a paltry 25 fans and their social media strategy isn’t working.

When you look at Facebook as a vehicle for “getting your business out there,” you rob yourself of the incredible benefits of Facebook.  Taking a step back, one of your most important tasks in marketing your travel agency is to establish yourself as an expert … NOT an agent.  This is how you differentiate yourself from the online booking engines and put your profession back on the radar screen of the traveling public.  Thus, the end result of your Facebook marketing strategy is to establish yourself as an expert.

So how do you establish yourself as an expert?  Probably the best and simplest formula for establishing yourself as an expert is to build 3 things:

1) Know

2) Like

3) Trust

How do you build “know?”  By letting them in!  Facebook is an awesome vehicle for letting them in, i.e., sharing your passions and personality on a one-to-many basis.  So, step 1 to enhancing your Facebook strategy is to “Friend” your clients and prospects.  It’s not enough to have a Fan page and have them be Fans.  It’s difficult to get your personality across on a Fan page.  So yes, have a Fan page, but also have a Personal Profile and go ahead and friend your clients, prospects, friends, family, etc….all in one place.  Don’t be scared!

How do you build “like?”  In his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie had a very simple answer to this question of how to get people to like you.  His answer was that when people know you, they like you.  Maybe not 100% of the time.  But as human beings, we have a tendency to assume the worst of total strangers and not like them.  But if you let someone know you, they realize you are just like them and they open up to liking you.  In your Facebook strategy, if you want people to know AND like you, in addition to opening up, sharing your passions, sharing your personality, you will also need to ENGAGE them.  Make posts that ask for a 2-way conversation.  Be opinionated.  Don’t be negative.  Be engaging.

How do you build “trust?”  By sharing valuable content.  Consistently.  In your Facebook strategy, share your blog posts, share updates on travel, share tips and secrets.  When you are a consistent source of valuable content on a specific topic in travel, your Facebook following will begin to see you as a source of valuable information.  In other words, they will see you as an expert!!!

Now that I’ve established why Facebook is a must in your marketing plan (to establish yourself as an expert by developing know, like and trust through engagement and valuable content), I want to share with you HOW Facebook can be incorporated in your marketing plan.

One of the most important lessons I learned as a travel professional (and teach in the Make Money Selling Travel Blueprint) is that you need to have 2 different types of marketing systems in place:

1)     List Building – adding new names and contact details to your database

2)    Relationship Building – engaging those in your database

Facebook is a fantastic vehicle for BOTH types of marketing systems.  Firstly, Facebook Ads are one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to list build.  ANYBODY can add this to their list building strategy … and should.  Second, your Facebook profile is an excellent vehicle for nurturing your relationships with your following on a one-to-many basis.  So Facebook can be used very effectively to achieve both purposes of your marketing systems – list building and relationship building.  That’s exactly HOW Facebook should be incorporated into your marketing plan.  Consider and be clear on using Facebook to list build and relationship build.

By Meredith Hill