That time of the year has come. Hoteliers in the Maldives and around the world are spending countless hours budgeting for the next financial year, making occupancy forecasts and elaborating strategies that would bring solid results in this very competitive environment. Digital marketers, however, as part of sales & marketing teams, find themselves struggling to secure adequate budgets that will support their paid reach in social media strategy.

Allocate your social media budget

Organic reach, which is the number of people that you can reach through the unpaid distribution of your content, has taken a strong hit since Facebook launched the last algorithm update in January. This means that the News Feed now prioritises content that produces meaningful interactions and it is posted by people connected to each other, family and friends.

In 2017 digital media researches have detected that more than 50% of active Business Pages have shown a decline in reach and engagement and not just because of the algorithm update but also because the Feed is more cluttered than ever and tons of content is published every day, making it a very competitive space to be and be seen.

Facebook recently stated that every digital marketer should work towards a strategy that ‘secures paid reach and engages with the audience’. What does it mean? It means that not too far from now, any content posted on social media will have to be supported with an ad strategy however only content that generates reactions (share, likes, comments) will be then prioritised on people’s feed and therefore be seen.

So, if only less than 10% of the total number of your followers sees your organic posts, how would you reach the rest if not by securing a substantial social media budget for your next financial year?

Targeting is better than boosting

When Facebook originally introduced ‘paid ad’, the boosting process was fairly simple. Over time, sponsored ads started to be perceived as intrusive and generated a number of unwanted reactions (aka ‘unfollow’ the page). More than that, users voiced this abuse of social media space, and soon enough Facebook listened and responded with an update that substantially changed the way our feed is populated. Today, when implementing social media budgets across content strategy, each social media manager should be familiar with the process of targeting and re-targeting.

First and foremost, know your followers. Where they are located, what do they like/share/comment on, what do they follow (apart from you). Then, target your campaigns based on results or create lookalike audiences on Facebook to reach a similar broader audience that will most likely be keen to become part of your followers’ range.

Targeting requires time and a detailed study of the page’s interactions, but if consistently executed it brings better results than just randomly boosting content.

Outsmart the algorithm

Simply putting money on each post, however, is not a plain solution and might not produce the expected results. Don’t panic. There are some ways to outsmart the algorithm to a certain extent in order to work towards generating better engagement.

  • Encourage interactions on content: As the page owner, you should LIKE the comments of your followers, REPLY to each one of them and MENTION the name of your follower in the reply to ensure he or she sees it.
  • Facebook prioritises ‘meaningful interactions’: A ‘meaningful interaction’ appears when your followers have replied to your comment or other people are joining in the conversation sharing opinions in even more comments and likes. So, don’t abandon a post, but keep checking and endorsing the conversation.
  • Remind them of your call-to-action: Nowadays users are easily distracted. It is important to remind them what to do at the end of the post, whether you wish to have it shared or liked, they need to know.
  • Be selective: It’s true. You can’t be everything for everybody. Select your content and plan it according to your audience’s preferences. Post it at an optimal time based on your followers’ location and time zone.

Gone are the days when Facebook Pages were an open space where businesses would simply advertise their services and products, hotels and resorts would post about their idyllic destinations and unique experiences and followers would happily interact on content to ultimately generate organic engagement.

Today, users are very protective of their feed, follow and unfollow pages are an increasing pace, voice complaints, and opinions and are not shy to ruin your digital reputation with a simple review.

How to survive and maintain a healthy digital presence? Get to know them before serving them what they want and you’ll win them over. In times where everything is said and done online, authenticity never lies and most importantly, never gets old.