The 2019 Facebook Updates All Travel Agents Should Know

Hack the robots and keep your audience loyal!

As if being a travel agent in the new and exciting digital age weren’t hard enough, you have to keep your finger on the pulse of Facebook’s finicky algorithm. Since the halcyon days of the sci-fi pulp fiction novel, people have been fascinated with the idea of robots taking over the world. While our lives certainly don’t look like the potential dystopian hellscape at the end of Ex Machina, robots do have quite a bit of influence on our perception; and our news feeds. 

For the most part, technology has made travel agent’s jobs much easier. Online booking engines help agents with accommodations, customer support, documentation, and communication. And by leveraging the power of social media, agents can reach more qualified leads than ever before. Gone are the days of outbound marketing. Online booking engines and social media have democratized information and reach for all travel agencies, both big and small. But, knowledge is power. And to get the technology to grow your business, you need to work within the rules and boundaries of the algorithm. 

What is an algorithm?

An algorithm, at least in the context of Facebook, is when a computer or technological application uses a pre-programmed process or set of rules that must be followed in calculations and other problem-solving operations. 

How does it look in real life?

When you start clicking on or otherwise interacting with certain posts on Facebook, the algorithm uses that data to continue showing you topics and posts that are related to the things that seem to resonate with you the most. You ‘love’ a bunch of funny cat videos? Facebook keeps showing them to you because the algorithm has determined that you like those sorts of things. This is why it’s all too easy to get stuck in a Facebook-engineered bubble. Pretty soon, you might start thinking that everyone owns a cat and that all cats are funny. 

So, what do Facebook’s recent update and algorithm change have to do with travel agents?

Social media is one of the leading ways to capture new leads, interact with customers, and advertise your brand. Facebook, and pretty much any sophisticated technology in 2018, utilizes an algorithm to formulate a user’s feed. Google also uses an algorithm to determine page rankings. What Facebook does is determine, via their algorithm, what posts to show you, and which of your posts to display to your followers, influencing organic as well as paid reach. 

At the beginning of the year, Facebook decided their old algorithm just wasn’t good enough. So they changed it. If you’ve noticed that your posts aren’t going as far as they used to, or you’re wondering why you aren’t seeing as much of a profile’s posts as you did last year, blame the robots. 

Why did Facebook change their algorithm?

Facebook came under quite a bit of fire last year. People were tired of seeing adverts and clickbaity posts all over their feeds. Plus, Facebook ran out of advertising space. If you’ve noticed that ad reach has also gone down while the price of click-throughs has gone up, robots are at work yet again. 

What does the Facebook update mean for ads?

So, what has Facebook done? Facebook and their robot horde are still beholden to the economic law of supply and demand. Less supply of ad space with the concomitant increase in demand means that ads will get pricier. If you want to use Facebook to advertise your travel business, get ready to spend more money on an ad campaign. 

To keep CTR’s affordable, you’ll need to keep a closer eye on your metrics. You’ll also want to tweak the ads more and target your audience better. You want the ads to show to highly qualified leads, so the campaign is a beneficial one for your business. 

If you’re not a PPC advertising expert, running your own Facebook ads after the update can be an exercise in frustration and futility. But, there are tons of highly-qualified and affordable freelancers you can use to run your Facebook ad campaigns. Head on over to any of the freelancing platforms, like Fiverr or Upwork, and look around. Check out the freelancer’s reviews and portfolios. Or better yet; ask your own network for a referral. Social media managing is a booming business, and you can quickly and easily find a dedicated pro to help you in this regard.

Is organic reach dead?

No, organic reach is definitely not dead. It’s still alive, but not really kicking unless you know how to prime the new algorithm. 

Organic reach is still possible and attainable, but travel agents have to approach it differently. Before the update, you could post things which didn’t require long-form responses. Images, plain text, and even one-liners could attain a decent reach. That’s not possible now. You can’t publish a post with, “Comment ‘Yes!’ and see our new offerings!” that will not gain you any favour with the algorithm. Posts like that are considered ‘click-bait’ and Facebook won’t reward you with higher organic reach. 

Instead, you need to use more interactive marketing techniques to get your organic reach up. Use videos, and long-form content that is conversational in nature. The more you can prompt viewers to respond to a post with actual sentences, questions, and valuable comments, the more likely you are to entice the algorithm to work for you. 

Facebook and social media are critical marketing components for travel agents. While online booking engines have made it super easy for travel agents to accommodate customers, social media management companies and freelancers can help travel agents work with the 2018 Facebook update. 

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