By David Ezra.
I read – with considerable interest – Mark Zuckerberg’s statement last week about the future direction of Facebook: less advertising and marketing, more social interaction with your friends.
Zuckerberg’s statement took me straight back to a World Travel Market forum in 2016, at which one of Facebook’s executives told the travel industry: “We’ve moved out of the social bucket. We are a media platform with 1.7 billion people. That’s not a social network, it’s people on a platform and they’re consuming media.”
At the time, this made me pretty uncomfortable. I’ll leave the niceties of definition to better qualified people, but one thing I was and remain sure of is that no-one ever joined Facebook to be advertised to. Or at.
So as an enthusiastic user, I’m 100 per cent behind Zuckerberg, and I’m delighted by Facebook’s near-Damascene conversion. But as a travel marketer, I realise that life is about to get a bit more complicated.
While we wait for the platform’s new approach to filter through, it’s unclear exactly how marketers will have to adapt. But it seems to me that, in the travel industry, turning your customers and visitors into advocates for your product or destination is going to be bigger and more important than ever before.
If Zuckerberg remains true to his word (and let’s be honest, this is a move that will cost Facebook quite a lot of money), users will see their news feeds showing more from their friends, family and chosen groups at the expense of public content – posts from businesses, brands and media.
That means that as an industry, our digital and social teams are going to need to invest much more of their time into ensuring that each visitor to our destination, each customer for our cruise, each hotel guest, each air passenger (yes, even at the back of the plane) gets the opportunity – and the inclination – to tell all their Facebook friends just how good their experience was. Expect a lot more on this in the coming months!