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Agents ponder how Facebook changes will affect marketing

Agents ponder how Facebook changes will affect marketing

Source: TravelWeekly

Facebook recently announced a change to its algorithm that will place content from users’ friends and families higher up in their News Feed than content published by Pages.

Social media experts said they were not surprised by the change and predicted it would likely affect agents who use Pages for marketing and lead generation to different degrees, depending on their usage level.

This was not Facebook’s first algorithm change to de-emphasize Pages content in News Feeds. That occurred last year, according to Margie Jordan, vice president of membership services at CCRA International, who called the latest change unsurprising.

While Sarah Bauman, social media specialist at Passport Online, also said the change was not surprising, she added, “One of the things that is important to note, though, is that this won’t affect every Page the same way. So some Pages may see less views, but some may actually see more, and some might see exactly the same.”

Passport Online’s ESP service automatically posts content to agents’ Facebook Pages.

In an online post to its newsroom, Facebook engineering director Lars Backstrom noted the possibility described by Bauman. “The specific impact on your Page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience,” he said, meaning Pages that routinely receive a number of “likes” and comments from followers will be less affected.

“If you’re pretty active with Pages, and your users are engaged with your Page, they’re still going to keep seeing [your content],” Bauman said.

Thus far, Passport Online has not seen any major changes in post traffic, Bauman said, but it’s still early, and Facebook has not revealed whether the change has been implemented.

Jordan encouraged agents to advertise via Facebook because the social media giant enables users to target their paid posts to very specific demographics, which could be a boon to travel retailers.

For example, Jordan said, an agent posting a promotion about a Royal Caribbean cruise could pay to advertise the post to Facebook users who specifically like Royal Caribbean, not just those who like cruising in general or who might like other lines catering to a different demographic, such as Crystal Cruises.

Vicky Garcia, COO and co-owner of Cruise Planners, suggested that agents share posts from their business Pages on their individual profiles to increase their reach.

“However,” she said, “this needs to be balanced, as many consumers don’t want to be sold to on social media but rather want an authentic exchange.”

Offering compelling content that clients will find useful or worth sharing is key, Jordan said.

Shelby Donley, president and owner of the Virtuoso agency Camelback Odyssey Travel in Phoenix, agreed.

“Keeping fresh, compelling content that elicits a response, even if it is only emotional, will drive business to us,” she said. “Facebook has become what billboards were in past decades: a changing message positioning our services and travel partners to an ever-changing stream of traffic.”

Meanwhile, some have noted a shift away from Pages in the agent channel, with travel advisers instead posting exclusively on their personal profiles. Over the past year or so, said Erina Pindar, managing director of SmartFlyer, most of her agents have made that shift after noticing a lack of reach from posts made to their business Pages.

“Why spend the energy to manage an entirely separate Page when you can just update your personal page with an already established client base and growing?” she said.

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