Guest Post: Targeting millennials on Facebook is a huge opportunity for travel, but how?

By Emma Ashby, head of display at Epiphany

The millennial generation is a sought-after audience for brands to target due to their growing buying power in the economy.

They’ve also gained a reputation for being a tricky group to reach; unsatisfied with simply a ‘good deal’ – they’re looking for an ‘experience’.

Recently, Facebook has been in the headlines for announcing plans to disguise ads so that ad-blockers can’t distinguish them from other Facebook content; the justification being that Facebook is giving users increased control over what types of ads they see.

This is good news for brands – but only if they take a considered, well-researched approach to Facebook advertising.

The opportunity to engage with an audience on Facebook is huge, but you have to put the time in to fully research your customers on Facebook first; what are they currently engaging with? What are their interests? Where are they based?

In the UK, 39% of Facebook’s user base comes under the millennial bracket and with research by Urbaneer Creative showing that 87% of millennials use Facebook for travel inspiration – the potential is massive.

How millennials travel

Millennials have generated a new era of travel, sure – price is still a driving factor in decision making, but this generation is looking for much more for their money.

Millennials want an experience, they’re shunning holiday packages to well-known tourist resorts and traditional accommodation; to look for custom, unique trips where they can learn and explore.

Undoubtedly, social media has helped to shape this; with the rise of image sharing platforms such as Instagram (currently the fastest growing social network) and Pinterest, users are influencing their peers and seeking recognition for their travel accomplishments online.

Millennials are spending more too – over £150 billion per year on travel, taking an average of nine trips a year.

With millennials taking a more considered approach to choosing their travel destinations and doing their research; there’s a wider opportunity for brands to engage during this research period.

It’s no secret that millennials are constantly connected to their smartphones, and research has shown that over half are using theirs to search for travel, as well as using them to post on social media at least once a day whilst actually on a trip.

So, how can travel brands use Facebook to tap into this audience during the research phase?

Targeting millennials on Facebook

A massive 71% of all internet users are on Facebook, with one in five mobile minutes spent on Facebook and Instagram. Users in the UK check Facebook on average 14 times a day.

So, if millennials are in your target audience – there’s no doubt that Facebook has to be a part of your online strategy.

On a smartphone, the chance of a user getting distracted is much lower than on another platform such as TV, which for advertisers means that grabbing the user’s attention is quicker on mobile.

With over half of Facebook users accessing the platform only on mobile, this means the potential for engaging an audience on Facebook is greater.

With Facebook’s granular targeting options, if you’ve done your research beforehand and found the optimum times, places and content to enable you to reach and engage your target audience, your ads will work much harder.

As a business, Facebook is focusing heavily on mobile and video; there’s now three times more video content on Facebook than a year ago, and that’s only set to rise.

Case studies have shown that video from brands – when done right – has a huge impact on brand awareness, but they have to work just as effectively with or without sound, meaning brands should caption their videos. Facebook has even rolled out a feature to automatically caption videos, encouraging small businesses to utilise video advertising.

Reporting and tracking has got better too – now, not only does Facebook give you the statistics on how long a user has engaged with your video, but it works out the user’s average engagement with video content, and works out an engagement metric for your videos based on this.

Earlier this year, Facebook also opened dynamic ads for travel brands; these make it possible for advertisers to target users on Facebook and Instagram with hotels that they’ve shown an interest in. By targeting potential customers at this stage, when they’ve already done a bit of research on the destination but not booked, the ads are much more valuable and more likely to convert.

Looking at recent innovations with Facebook, Skyscanner is a great example of a travel brand utilising chat bots to create a fantastic customer experience.

Using Facebook Messenger chat bots, users can now directly message Skyscanner to find out information on flights without going to the site or to a search engine.

FbSkyscanner2

This is a smart move by Skyscanner – with conversational search on the rise and user demand for instant information and convenience, Skyscanner has made its services more accessible and hassle-free.

On a smaller scale, travel companies – especially hotels and resorts – can take advantage of Facebook’s new 360 degree photo feature to show off what’s on offer, knowing that images are a big influencer on choosing travel destinations.

As well as being able to target users during the research phase, there are opportunities to engage with users whilst on their trips – particularly useful for car hire companies and attractions.

Facebook can serve ads based on a user’s location, so you can set the parameters to be however close to your physical location as you’d like and use the ad to encourage footfall.

There is enormous opportunity to be had for travel brands on Facebook, especially targeting the millennial generation.

However, being able to engage with travellers on social media first requires a deep understanding of at which point in the consumer journey your audience uses social media, and why.

By having a strategy which is tailored towards your customer motivations and their online travel journey, as a brand you can add real value to their decision making process or travel experience.

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