Compete Study Rethinks Facebook Likes

Posted on Mar 7th 2012

The ‘Like’ has long been the standard measure of success in social media marketing, but a recent Compete study has urged travel companies to adopt a broader approach to determine the true value of their Facebook campaign.  

The study argues that Facebook Likes are not a reliable gauge of a travel brand’s success on the leading social media site, because Likes are cumulative and not current. This means that while a travel brand may have built up an impressive collection of Likes over several years, these do not accurately reflect the company’s current Facebook performance; much like a record of snowfall over the last decade does not indicate how much snow is falling this winter. 

Instead of relying on Likes, Compete argues that travel companies should be looking to unique visitor data as a more accurate indicator of current Facebook engagement. In this sense, Orbitz led the way in December 2011 with a total of 16,100 unique visitors to its Facebook profile. However, of the four travel sites analyzed, Expedia gathered the most Likes – a total of 1.5 million. An analysis of the ratio of unique visitors to new Likes is one measure of a travel brand’s Facebook success or ‘productivity’ over any given period, the Compete study suggests. In that regard, it was Priceline who had the upper hand with an impressive 98, 631 Likes from 10, 334 unique monthly visitors. Orbitz had a ‘productivity’ rate of 5.2%, while Travelocity was third at 5.2%, followed by Expedia at 1.1%.  

Not overlooking the fact that the purpose of most marketing campaigns is to drive customer bookings, Compete also examined the overlap between visits to each travel company’s Facebook profile and their main brand website. Once again, Priceline emerged triumphant, with 77% of Facebook visitors during December also visiting the primary site. The other three travel brands fell significantly behind here with an average of just 30% visitor overlap, suggesting they should focus on driving traffic from their Facebook profile to their main site. 

The study also put forward several other possible ways to measure the success of a travel brand’s Facebook activity. One suggestion is an examination of the extent to which Facebook visitors are more or less likely to go on to book a holiday with that company. Another alternative would be to measure the degree to which Facebook and main website visitors are less likely to book with rival travel companies. 

Compete’s findings suggest that even large multinational travel brands have room to improve their social media engagement. Are you ready to look again at your Facebook performance?   

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