Unless you woke from a coma or crawled out from under a rock this morning, Facebook and Instagram were down for the better part of yesterday. For a moment, I considered logging into my MySpace account for some social interaction but decided to just go for a walk instead. Not only did I not get bombarded with political banter during my walk, I felt untethered. It also underscored the value of alternatives to Facebook advertising.
Being without Facebook was a liberating experience, but it was also an educational one in terms of advertising.
All too often, we advertisers rely on our ad platforms to find the people we want to reach. We input some criteria and leave it up to Google’s or Facebook’s advertising technology to do the rest. But we shouldn’t. Instead, we need to rely more on connecting with customers in more creative ways.
Yes, COVID has provided some challenges by keeping us apart physically but it hasn’t kept us from establishing and building relationships. We can do that by foregoing advertising and – *gasp* – actually being social. Let’s remember some ways.
Host a webinar. Online presentations aren’t just for B2B companies. There’s a gap to be filled in connecting with travelers via webinars. For example, the site Destination Webinars (clever name) has an intimidating library of destination-promoting webinars, as well as an active list of upcoming ones. Host a webinar roughly 30 days prior to your peak seasons. You could promote it through hyper-local media, email, and organic social, or just embed them on your site as an on-demand option.
If you’re in economic development, you’re more or less in a B2B mindset, so you should already have webinars in your marketing mix. If you’re nervous about public speaking, we have tips for that.
Diversify and expand your outreach. Many destinations already work with an online travel agency (OTA) of some sort, but there are two ways you can look at leveraging OTAs.
The first is to find destination-specific ones, which are usually the first that we gravitate to. Those that typically come to mind are Expedia, Booking.com, and others. They have massive audiences and everyone lists on them. That direction is a no-brainer but since everyone is on there, you’ll be a small fish in an ocean-sized pond.
In addition, look for niche OTAs. These are sites that cater to interests instead of locations. A great example is Adrenalin Hunter, which connects with thrill junkies like myself, who are open to finding excitement where it may be hiding. More great examples can be found here.
What’s great about working with OTAs is that you only pay when there’s a conversion (someone goes on a tour or books accommodations). Therefore, they are just as invested in your success and they are in their own.
To sum up, trying alternative approaches to Facebook advertising and targeting will encourage you to build an increased mindset of going where your customer is instead of trying to sift through billions of uninterested people to create an audience. Your budget is spent more wisely, and in the event of another social media outage, you’re not rage-clicking the reload button on your browser, looking for all the eggs you put in one basket.