Facebook is flavour of the day. My Tnooz inbox is full of reports from organisations looking to calculate or determine how important Facebook is to travel companies.
Rather than cover each and every one, this post is an attempt to collate the most interesting statistics and insight from each of the reports.
I should be upfront and say that I, personally, am not actually on Facebook. I tend to have an asymmetric web relationship with many industry contacts (and customers) and I find it painful enough not accepting everyone's LinkedIn request to risk repeating that on yet another platform.
However that doesn't make me a non-Facebook user. You would be surprised how much utility you can get from Facebook even though you are not logged in. So yeah, I am just the right person to write about Facebook :)
Right, so where to start.
First let's jump to Australia where last week there was a Sydney Travel Tribe Unconference. Read the original Project Wander coverage that aims to answer the question "Will Facebook generate more traffic than Google for travel sites".
First stat to whet your appetite - WorldNomads (A travel insurance provider plus services to travellers such as blogs) stated that 20-25% of their volume of Google based SEM sales come via Facebook (They have an active Facebook page with 38,000 "likes").
Stat #2 from WebInTravel conference two weeks ago (as reported on Project Wander) - Kathleen Tan from AirAsia suggested than 12 % of the traffic to their website comes via Facebook.
Graham Robertson (also a Tnooz node) suggests that actually this is because a proportion of the paid advertising that Air Asia undertake drives web visitors to their Facebook page.... hence the Facebook statistic should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Okay, so maybe this stat should go in the "interesting but questionable" drawer. Still, in a world where landing page optimisation is really important, perhaps sending paid traffic to a Facebook page is a great idea... certainly worth testing anyway.
Then we have a collection of interesting datapoints from a report produced by Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Resmark Systems, Convince & Convert. The report is called "Social Media Study: Travel, Tweets & Trends" and is available at $50.
Aimed at tour operators, interesting stats include:
- 43% of companies say social media is quite or extremely important to their business success
- Facebook is the dominant social media tactic, with more companies now using Facebook than email newsletters
- 69% of companies are spending 10 hours per week or less on their social media programs
- Budgets for social media are very small. 67% of companies are spending less than 5000 USD per year, including labour.
- Facebook is used at least weekly by 67% of the companies responding to their survey. Twitter follows with 47% weekly usage.
However when it comes to what is EFFECTIVE or VERY EFFECTIVE:
- 54% rated email newsletters effective or very effective
- 38% rated Facebook
- 28% rated Youtube
- 17% rated Twitter
As reports go, if you are a tour operator (regardless of whether you are adventure travel or not) this is pretty much a must buy.
Although I have picked out a few statistics the report is really more of a guide telling you what you should be spending time on and what you can forget about. Good stuff and perfect as a primer.
OK, now on to the Experian Hitwise report called Getting to grips with Social Media. Much like accountants who tell you about last year's performance, this report tells us that social media is important.
Yes, I think we got that already. What we want to know is what to focus on next year. But if stats are your thing, then this packs a punch like a heavyweight. Let's pick out a few:
- The most popular reason for people to follow brands on social networks is to find out about promotional offers and sales.
- Second most popular reason is to hear other users experience/reviews.
- Social media accounts for 11.5% of all UK Internet visits.
- 13.25% of all downstream traffic from social networks in September 2010 went to other social networks.
As it happens my business collects Facebook (and other social media) profile information from 90+ specialist tour operators.
At this point Twitter and Facebook are running side by side with 50% of our specialist tour operator customers with their own Facebook page or Twitter handle.
This is far ahead of having a Youtube channel or blog etc. Pretty much as you would expect, and concurs with the reports mentioned above. Thank goodness for that :)
So now we know Facebook is important (who knew!) - what can tour operators do about it?
A couple of reservation system providers - us with TourCMS and Rezgo (run by Tnooz node Stephen Joyce) - have Facebook applications to feature tours directly onto a new tab on a Facebook page.
Early days for this kind of functionality but it shows that reservation system companies, with tour/activity product data available via web based API, can use this to assist tour operators with their social media strategies. Will be interesting to see where this leads to....
For example, this TourCMS version (Peace of Angkor tours Facebook page)
Joyce says it is still too early to tell how this works in practice. Stats are still a little low to come up with a definitive answer.
That pretty much puts everyone in the same boat - with 54% rating email newsletters as effective (much higher than social media), it seems that social media is still something we must do but in terms of driving business... seems concepts from five to ten years ago are still king.