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Rumours of Facebook’s demise have been greatly exaggerated

By Averlea Burgess, Online Marketing Manager, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism

5 March 2014

Whether or not you believe the predictions made by Princeton researchers that Facebook will lose 80% of its users by 2017. It’s probably fair to say that Facebook and other social media platforms will remain a valuable channel in your organisation’s marketing mix if their features, functionality and users help you achieve your marketing goals.

As with all marketing tools it’s vital that the inclusion of social media in your marketing strategy is based on what you want to achieve. Don’t get caught using the latest social media platform without a clear purpose.

Social media can help you:

  • Inspire your customers and raise awareness of your product.
  • Listen to customer opinions and viewpoints.
  • Solicit feedback via comments, reviews, photos and/or videos.
  • Build engaged audiences in key markets.

If purpose is at the heart of your social media selection, the imminent demise of any one platform won’t threaten your marketing goals. Having clearly defined goals allows you to easily evaluate current and emerging social media platforms for their ability to help you achieve your marketing plan.

At Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism, we use Facebook to gather feedback and inspire potential visitors. Facebook’s penchant for imagery helps us co-create a compelling vision of the Canterbury region. Here's a few guidelines we employ to make the best use of this platform.

Facebook post frequency and timing

  • Post regularly, we aim for at least once a day. 96% of fans never return to your page, so posting frequently is the only way to reach them via their newsfeed.
  • Leave a couple of hours between posts so that you don't cannibalise each post’s potential reach. A post will achieve half of its reach in the 30 minutes after it’s published. After 90 minutes an average post will reach less than 2% of its total audience.  
  • Quality is still more important than quantity so if there's really nothing interesting to post, don't!
  • Experiment with different post times to determine optimal posting times.

Content and structure

  • Fascinating familiar. We aim to provide a new perspective on Christchurch and Canterbury activities, attractions, landscapes and landmarks.
  • Ditch the pitch. Think content, not commercials or advertising.
  • Use casual, accessible language, but no SMS/text language.
  • Don’t overuse events, deals and competitions. We aim to only post this type of content once a week.
  • Keep it short. Posts between 100 to 250 characters get 60% more likes, comments and shares than posts over 250 characters.
  • Always post with a visual. Posting photo albums, photos and videos get 180%, 120% and 100% more engagement respectively.
  • Always link your post to additional information. Use trackable short links like bitly.com so that post effectiveness can be gauged. This also helps to reduce the number of characters used.
  • Take the opportunity to drive traffic to your website and partner Facebook pages.
  • Manage thumbnail images in links. You can often select from a few options or remove the preview entirely.
  • Leave gaps in your commentary so that fans can easily add their perspective and co-create. For example, ask questions or seek user suggestions/feedback. Ask fans to fill in the blanks, unscramble a photo, or vote using "like" and "share".
  • Balance the focus on niche audiences.
  • Build content around themes. For example, "to do" or "top 5" lists.
  • Use Facebook targeting tools to reach or exclude different audiences when necessary.
  • Respect and acknowledge significant world/regional events. At these times it's not business as usual, be prepared to postpone posts or change a post to acknowledge an event/tragedy.

After posting

  • Monitor your posts regularly. Review your posts at least twice in the first hour, especially if you have asked a question or requested fan feedback. Then check the post at least another 2-3 times over the next 5-8 hours.
  • Respond to fans who engage with your posts.
  • Affirm positive feedback with a "like" or comment. Where possible, keep the conversation going with an additional question or comment.
  • Don't delete negative feedback (unless profane language is used). Ride out the storm and try to find a way to change the negative direction of the conversation. If a fan says, "Don't bother visiting Christchurch, there's nothing to do", reply with a link to relevant content that dispels the statement. For example, "Check out the latest restaurants and bars that are popping up in Christchurch http://bit.ly/1fYqc6Q".
  • Always reply with positive comments and don't get drawn into an argument. Avoid "flaming". It's alright to have negative comments from time to time. You'll find that fans will come to your defence especially when comments are unduly negative. It's also important to note that a negative comment will not necessarily cause a fan to "unlike" your page.
  • Consider using emoticons to keep your posts and comments friendly and upbeat. It's very easy for online comments to be misinterrpreted.
  • Delete and block users who place spam or advertising on your page.
  • Spend time exploring your newsfeed. "Like", comment or share content you think positively contributes to your organisational goals.
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