A European study of Facebook’s heaviest users has found travel is the biggest vertical on the social network, equating to more than double the next biggest category.
Facebook carried out a qualitative study of 16 ‘super-users’ in the UK and Germany and a quantitative study of 3,000 regular users who have been on holiday in the last 12 months.
The firm says the activities of its top 20% of users are indicative of where mainstream users are heading next.
The research found that 42% of stories on timelines are travel-related, while 51% of users in the survey put posts about ‘holidays’ as one of their top three types, above music, food, pets, babies and weddings.
Other findings of the Facebook user survey included:
Tracy Yaverbaun, group director of retail, travel, luxury and fashion, said the insight had confirmed what Facebook already perceived to be the case regarding its importance for the travel sector.
“We want to build specialisms in certain industries to give value back to marketers using the platform. In the UK we did not really have a travel category until this year.
“What was happening was we were seeing much more engagement from our users that were talking about and sharing their experiences of travel.
“It’s the most shared topic. We have seen a lot of travel companies, whether it’s OTAs or tourist boards, reaching out to us.
“So we decided to redouble our efforts and put some thought into how we approach travel and we wanted to back this up with third party measurement.”
Yaverbaun said travel firms which are using Facebook with a clear end goal in mind, whether it was driving own customer acquisitions costs or finding more customers, were seeing strong results.
The report on the study highlighted Secret Escapes’ work to develop new markets using Custom Audiences, and Hotel Tonight targeting new customers for their last-minute booking app.
The former saw an 85% increase in Click Through Rate and a 20% decrease in Cost Per Click compared to desktop campaigns, while the latter had a ten times increase in click-to-install rate compared to standard mobile banner ads.
British Airways also used Facebook for its Home Advantage London Olympics advertising campaign, reaching 12.8 million people overall of which 5.8 million were reached by Facebook.
As well as Custom Audiences, Facebook has started offering Lookalike Audiences which matches firms’ existing customer profiles to users of the social network and targets them.
Andy Pang, Facebook measurement solutions group lead, said the network was most interested in driving insight from its growth markets in northern Europe.
“We know marketers talk about the five stages of travel, but we were very keen to find out how Facebook was the influencer within those five stages.
“With marketing budgets being relatively tight finding the most effective platform is a key consideration among most marketers.”
Pang said the study uncovered some interesting early examples of users in Europe starting to use Facebook’s new Graph Search functionality despite it not being fully rolled out yet.
There was also evidence that travellers use Facebook as a storage device for their holiday content like pictures.
One respondent had last their camera while abroad but because they had auto upload on Facebook they had not lost their photographs.
Pang added a number of respondents talked about Facebook as being a useful time saver because they could log in once and get access to all their applications without the need for multiple passwords.
Yaverbaun said this single view of the user was helping marketers understand how customers move across multiple devices.
“A lot of advertisers are starting to see great results from doing the right things on the platform. A lot of people are not clear about why they want to be on Facebook.
“A lot know they have to be doing something because they see others doing it, but the challenge is to show them why.
“The first things our teams ask them is what is their objective, what is the outcome they are after. A lot of firms, particularly OTAs will not invest in something until they are sure it has some sort of return for them.”