Travel marketeers react to Facebook’s News Feed change

News Feed algorithm changes may deprioritise brand content

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg last week announced that the social media platform’s News Feed algorithms will be revamped to boost “meaningful” posts from family members and friends over those from media and businesses, leading marketeers to ponder if the latest change will have significant ramifications for travel brands and businesses that use Facebook pages to drive organic engagement.

The social media giant’s latest announcement is nothing novel, observed Lionel Lee, partner at Playmakers, a social media consultancy in Singapore, as the organic reach, or the exposure of non-paid content, of businesses on Facebook “has been significantly reduced over the years”, resulting in brands having “to fight harder and smarter” to get customers’ attention and delivering targeted messaging to the right audience.

News Feed algorithm changes may deprioritise brand content

An audience-centred approach is what Urban Rhythms Tours, Adventures and Travel’s director Nigel Wong has already adopted for the Kuala Lumpur-based agency, which targets millennials as its core business segment.

He commented: “The changes will be good for our Facebook page, Big Blue Holidays, which we will launch end of January. We create authentic, original content in the form of videos of our trips and product offerings, which friends and viewers will want to repost, comment and share with others through social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus.”

The firm currently allocates about 10 per cent of its marketing budget on Facebook ads while the rest of its budget is on traditional media and digital marketing including Google ad words and YouTube advertisements, shared Wong. There are no plans to increase its advertising budget this year.

Jamie Tan, senior e-commerce executive, H.I.S. International Travel, meanwhile, acknowledges the need to “focus (on) having more interactive posts so as to maintain a high level of customer engagement with our followers” on Facebook with its recent News Feed changes.

For others like Surabaya-based Aneka Kartika Tours, for which social media is not a main communication tool, any changes to Facebook’s algorithms will have minimal impacts on its customer outreach strategy, said director of operations Adjie Wahjono.

Instead, Adjie relies on her personal influence to drive engagement and traffic for the company on Facebook. “As my personal page’s follower numbers are much bigger (than Aneka Kartika), I repost and share posts on my own page to reach out to a wider audience like the hoteliers and industry players overseas on my friend list, who may not be our suppliers and partners yet.”

Playmakers’ Lee hence urged travel marketeers to “let go of the thought of Facebook as a free advertising space to connect with audiences” and instead “embrace forward-thinking strategies and incorporate an audience-centric approach into their social media marketing”.

It’s presumptuous to speculate if Facebook’s algorithm shift will be as pronounced and dramatic as made out to be, according to Lee.

“Mark Zuckerberg’s vision to make Facebook’s interactions more meaningful is not a day of reckoning for brands; it’s elevating the information transfer between brands and consumers,” he surmised.

  • Additional reporting by S Puvaneswary, Mimi Hudoyo and Pamela Chow
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