The Problems with Likes – the Pitfalls of Unplanned Facebook Marketing

When the first Facebook-gold-rush began, brands were flocking to the social network and were instantly solely focused on the number of likes their page could get. 100 was seen as pitiful, 1000 respectable, and now it’s not uncommon to find small hotels with several thousand likes.

The problem that many businesses made was that they were only focussed on likes, nothing else. Not the context of the like, the relevance of the like, or the benefit of the like. Soon businesses realised exactly how they can short-sightedly grow their number of likes; all you need is some decent content (a picture of a cat wearing glasses would have probably been enough). A few hours of posting said cat, hundreds of likes and shares were received, and everybody in the company celebrated and declared you a social marketing genius. But having random people liking a brand that was no-way related to cats, or funny content, wasn’t going to benefit anyone in the long-term.

Users (and Facebook) soon realised that if you liked a plumbers Facebook page because they once posted a funny photo, you may not be so keen on seeing their latest boiler installation the next week. Interaction with these kinds of posts, with that cat-audience, would be zero. So the problem with chasing likes was soon noticed, and brands needed to be smarter about how they acquired likes, and about the kind of posts they made on their Newsfeed.

How to plan a Facebook campaign

Firstly you need to decide what you want to obtain from the social network. Coming at it from a hotels point of view, it’s likely that you do ultimately want to grow likes, but only relevant likes, from your target audience. Post shares would be another KPI to look-to-receive, with the number of shares also having an SEO benefit (even if no study has yet declared it). Check-ins could be another KPI to focus on, with the number of people checking-in on Facebook being of most importance. You may even decide to assign a target booking value from Facebook, so you way say you want to generate X number of bookings from Facebook in Q3 of 2015, or revenue of £X. The final KPI may be visitor-based, so you want to bring X number of visits to your website from Facebook.

As you can see, there are quite a few possibilities, so you need to firstly define some clear targets. Only then can you look at creating the strategy to help you to achieve this. Let’s say for example this is your hotels target for 2016:

Grow number of Facebook likes by 30%
Increase post shares by 15%
Generate £800 in room-revenue from Facebook
Grow web traffic from Facebook to hotel website by 10%
Hit Facebook check-ins of 1000 in 2016.

Based on these objectives, you may then come up with a posting strategy for the entire year to try and grow Facebook likes. By investing some time in writing posts now, and scheduling them for 2016, you could have a lot of the framework in place. Getting some good quality content (likeable (buy relevant) images, text, etc) should take away a lof ot he leg work needed. These can focus around set events throughut the year, so seasonal events like Easter, Christmas, and so on.

You may also look at encouraging useres to like you by including your Facebook URL on any newsletters you send out to your database of guests, or even by including scannable QR codes, or leaflets, inside your hotel rooms. Including social buttons on your hotel website is another easy way to grow likes, but this needs to be done carefully to discourage users who should be making a booking instead! There are lots of creatives ways you can grow your likes, which we’ll discuss later on on the Hotel Marketer website.

Increasing post shares by 15% is quite a difficult KPI to plan for, but could simply be done by running a competition on Facebook, or asking fans on Facebook to share their posts with friends and so on (as long as done within the rules of the social network!). The best way to achieve this KPI is simply by posting really shareable content on your page, which is easier said than done….

Generating £800 in room-revenue from Facebook is another quite difficult target to plan for but should still be possible. WOrk out what your average booking value is, and break it down into a number of bookings, See what previous years generated, and find out what worked well before.
You could try offering discounts or coupons for bookings made from Facebook, so by asking visitors to enter “FACEBOOK” as a voucher code on the hotel booking engine then perhaps they can receive a unique discount on their booking. You may even want to run a sponsored advert, promoting this offer with non-fans of your hotel brand, or by “boosting” your page post; these should all help to generate bookings.

Growing the amount of traffic from Facebook to your hotel website can be quite a simple one to achieve. If you have a blog then you can set this up so that every time you publish a blog post, this link gets shared to Facebook automatically. Or you can simply post on Facebook when you add new content to the site. Some brands even run competitions on Facebook, asking fans a question that is only answerable by browsing their website (eg how much does it cost to book a double room in our hotel in February?). An easy way to get more people onto your website from Facebook, even if to just hit your targets…

Hitting 1000 Facebook checkins in 2016 is another quite reachable target, if approached with an open-mind. Firstly check how easy it isto check in to your page; do any duplicates exist of your brand? Some (very cruel) hotels will have a WIFI system where you need to “like” or check-in to the Facebook page before being granted access to the WIFI connection. Other, more creative and modern hotels, may have a QE code directly in the hotel room or lobby, which when scanned will check the user in to Facebook. Why not offer a free drink in the bar when a user checks in to Facebook – if your organisation is so keen to hit their KPI’s then they should be happy to invest a little money into doing so.

As you can see there is a lot of work involved with a Facebook marketing campaign, more so than just by posting pictures of cats wearing hats in the hope that people will like your brand. Everyone has seen that it’s not enough to have just likes – after all, posting to your fans is no longer a guarantee that posts are displayed in Newsfeeds. Content needs to be well planned ane executed, and clear targets need to be agreed on before being actionable.

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