The importance of Facebook as a tool for travel advisors is undeniable.
The social media giant had 1.63 billion daily active users on average in September and 2.45 billion monthly active users as of Sept. 30. Every day, about 2.2 billion people use Facebook or one of its other services (Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger). That figure jumps to 2.8 billion on a monthly basis.
Advisors are paying attention. According to Travel Weekly's 2019 Travel Industry Survey, 73% of advisors use free social media to attract new clients, and 26% use paid ads on social media.
Of the agents who said they use social media for their business, a staggering 94% use Facebook, followed by Instagram at a distant 52%.
Additionally, nearly one half (48%) of advisors use social media messaging on Facebook and Instagram to communicate with clients.
The good news is, clients seem to be responding to agents' efforts on Facebook.
Passport Online recently analyzed activity on its digital channels for the first half of 2019. The company offers technology solutions to the leisure travel industry, including social media posting and websites for travel advisors.
According to Passport Online, consumer likes and shares on agency Facebook pages are up 44% year over year when compared with the first six months of 2018.
"These statistics clearly prove consumers are responding to the content their travel agencies are sharing on Facebook," Passport Online said in a statement.
Currently, the company powers more than 1,600 travel advisors' business Facebook pages with more than 1.6 million followers.
Passport Online's most-shared post (416 shares) features a quote from Benny Lewis, "There are seven days in a week and 'someday' isn't one of them," superimposed over imagery of Lencois Maranhenses National Park in Brazil. The photo post also included the name of the destination pictured.
The most-liked post (2,280 likes) features two images: one of a cruise ship in Alaska and one of a cruise ship in the Caribbean. It asks viewers if they would rather take a cruise in Alaska or the Caribbean. For Alaska, they are directed to react to the post with a thumbs-up symbol; for the Caribbean, they are directed to react to the post with a heart symbol.
The most-commented-on post was also the one asking about Alaska and Caribbean cruises, with 1,420 comments.
I'll be delving into social media even more Friday, Nov. 15, at CruiseWorld in Fort Lauderdale. I'm moderating a 10:30 a.m. panel on social media featuring Steve Hirshan, senior vice president of sales, Avoya Travel Network; Drew Daly, senior vice president and general manager, CruiseOne, Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc.; and Jeanne Colombo, vice president of strategic partnerships, Passport Online.
Stop by if you'll be attending the conference. The panelists will share what's working on social and how to do it, and we'll leave plenty of time for questions.