New Compete study tells us what we already know: No social strategy is “one size fits all”

The following post is from McLean Robbins, TIG Global Copywriting Manager.

A new Compete.com study hits on data that we at TIG Global have long preached to clients – your social strategy is unique.unique_social_media_strategy_tigglobal_blog

The premise of the study is a simple enough fact: your number of Facebook “likes” doesn’t necessarily correlate to your brand’s level of social engagement from consumers.

We see the data firsthand on a daily basis – clients with a smaller base of “Likes” can easily generate higher revenue and better levels of engagement than their more “Liked” counterparts. But what about other factors?

Compete evaluated OTAs Orbitz, Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity on the following criteria:

  • Facebook “Likes” as compared to Unique Visitors
  • “Cross Pollination” or the extent to which a visitor to the OTA’s Facebook page visited the OTA primary site

The results? Unclear – sites all excelled in an individual area, but no clear market leader could be found.  Orbitz generates the most UVs, Priceline does the best job driving visitors to their brand site, and Expedia has the most “Likes”. Who comes out on top?

The answer: we can’t tell you from this data. Social success is about choosing the right social media outlet and setting appropriate goals, and then taking steps to achieve them.

For more information, see this post on choosing a social media outlet from our in-house expert, Brian Bagel.

Compete’s argument is simple – the number of “likes” is an indicator but not the ultimate measure of engagement, given that the total is cumulative rather than current.

True to the methodology around which they’ve based their business model, Compete argues that unique visitors to a page are a better indicator of engagement than “Like” numbers.

They’re calling this “social productivity.” Again, a relatively simple statement. It’s encouraging that data backs up what we’ve been telling clients for years – look towards engagement and not just numbers.

But it’s not enough.

Is there a relationship between Facebook and brand site visits? If Facebook effectively drives traffic to the brand site, is it more effective to see high conversion numbers than those with high UVs or high numbers of “Likes”? Unclear, and the idea that many sites now have Facebook-based booking engines (effectively eliminating the need to visit the brand page) further complicates things.

Naturally, the goal of any social media site, particularly within the travel industry, is to drive bookings.

But it’s the questions that the study doesn’t answer that are the real kickers.

We’ve broken down the questions the study leaves unanswered with a “what you can do now” proactive tip, offering new goals for any social media strategy that can help you determine ROI:

  • Revenue value quantification – how much traffic is a social outlet really generating?
    • What we can do now: measure the room nights booked or traffic generated from a social outlet to a hotel’s page.
  • Are people reading data on your page and then “shopping around” before booking with you … or elsewhere?
    • What we can do now: Utilize tracking technology to see where a potential client goes next, and evaluate this data over time.
  • Quantify the incremental customer.
    • What we can do now: Again, track consumer behavior over time. This, in our minds, is the least pressing of our concerns – so long as clients are booking, we’re happy.
  • The real kicker: Understand how cross-pollination, unique visitors and productivity intersect, and how each matters for brands and companies.
    • What we can do now: This would be the real game-changer, and certainly something we’re keeping an eye on.

Only when the above are achieved can we truly begin to finalize our social strategy. And in the ever-changing world of social, “finalize” is a tenuous and individualized concept.

Interested in ramping up your online strategy? Check out the full suite of TIG Global interactive marketing tools, send us an email, or give us a call +1 301.841.4700(US) | +44 (0)20 3004 9468(UK).

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