Expedia finds value in Facebook users
Expedia finds value in Facebook users
15 DECEMBER 2011 9:03 AM

Expedia reported a significant lift in transactions on Expedia.com as a result of its Expedia FriendTrips sweepstakes held on Facebook earlier this year.

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—The jury still might be out on how to effectively measure the ROI on social media, but a recent study conducted by Compete shows that active engagement on Facebook fan pages has proven successful for brands such as Expedia.

The study’s purpose was to understand the impact Facebook brand campaigns have on online shopping and purchase behavior, as well as the potential for incremental business when successful.

Compete, a Kantar Media company that helps brands improve marketing based on consumer’s online behavior, tracked the impact of the Expedia FriendTrips sweepstakes held on Facebook earlier this year, as well as campaigns from Delta, Target, Best Buy and Visit Las Vegas.

The FriendTrips sweepstakes required users to “like” Expedia on Facebook, become a virtual pilot of plane headed toward one of 13 prize destinations and invite five friends to join them on the trip. A plane was entered to win a prize once it was full with five passengers, but users could enter to win multiple destinations by starting new planes and adding more passengers.

Before the sweepstakes Expedia had 130,000 “likes,” but the company garnered over 900,000 new “likes” during its campaign, making it the largest promotion ever hosted on Facebook by any brand, said Ryan Williams, director of client services and travel at Compete, during a webinar titled “Exploring the Value of a Facebook User” from Expedia Media Solutions, the advertising sales division of online travel provider Expedia.

“It is clearly possible to generate strong engagement with the right campaign,” Williams said.

Approximately 85% of the aggregate monthly unique visitors to Expedia’s brand pages on Facebook year-to-date through August visited in April and May, the months of the promotion, he added.

Williams said when a brand succeeds in interacting with fans on Facebook, visitation increases to the brand’s Facebook page, as well as to brand.com: “While a small percentage of your site visitors actually see your official Facebook page in the same month, a much larger percentage of visitors to your Facebook page hit your site.”

As a result of the sweepstakes, Expedia saw an incredible lift in transactions on Expedia.com, said Noah Tratt, VP of media solutions for Expedia.

In fact, Expedia’s brand page on Facebook only experienced a 10-15% drop-off after the promotion, but currently has more “likes” than it did during the promotion.

Self-reported data from Expedia partners showed that they benefitted tremendously from the campaign, as well.  

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Partners that offered prizes valued at US$100,000 or more saw 150% more engagement from Facebook fans with users uploading stories and photos about their destinations, Tratt said.

Expedia partners that offered prizes less than US$100,000 for the sweepstakes saw a total of 5,500 stories and photos uploaded on their Facebook pages.

“Expedia did the heavy lifting—concept development, creative, implementation and promotion—allowing sponsoring travel brands to ride the tailwind of the campaign with a minimal commitment of resources or promotional dollars,” Tratt said in an email.

In a recent Compete survey, three out of four respondents expressed that a brand’s Facebook page had at least some influence on their purchase decisions.

“Consumers who engage with a brand’s website, as well as the brand’s official Facebook page show a much stronger propensity to book,” Williams said.

He said these consumers show a strong sense of loyalty to the brand.

In the long term, Expedia’s many new Facebook fans will buy extensively from Expedia.com, as long as the company continues to engage with them, Williams said.

The survey also found that 56.2% of people like a brand on Facebook to keep up with sales and promotions, which Williams said tend to be the price-sensitive portion of users.

However, Tratt said if a brand makes it all about deals and offers it is not taking full advantage of the channel.

“We have to be sensitive to this audience. We want our Facebook fans to feel our voice is authentic and not purely promotional,” he said.

The Compete survey indicated 60% of respondents like fewer than six brands on Facebook.

“Because people only like a certain number of brands, you need to be careful not to damage your brand equity,” Tratt said.

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