Is Facebook a Good Marketing Tool For Rural Tourism Businesses?

by Joanne Steele on February 1, 2010

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facebooklogo.jpgMy answer is, “Yes, if done correctly. No, if not.”

As a small tourism business operation or chamber of commerce, you’re concern is probably time. You don’t have time for a social media site that could suck up hours for a questionable return on your investment.  Your concern is well noted.

Here’s how to approach Facebook in a way that will give you maximum benefit in a minimum of time.

1. Build a Fan Page for your business, not a profile page.

If you don’t have a Facebook profile yet, you’ll register using your own name, but will set up a Fan Page for your business.

Profiles are for individuals, Fan Pages are for businesses. Take your time thinking through your name and category – it is the only thing you won’t be able to change in the future.

2. Review everything you know about your customer. That will drive your content choices.

The major reason that Fan Pages fail to work is that businesses think the page is about THEM. It’s not! It’s about your fans, your customers!

If you haven’t downloaded Marketing For Free in 2010 and filled out the profile form for your Perfect Customer, now is the time. The signup form is in the column to the right of this post.

People become a Fan of your business page to say something about themselves. They return, comment, post to their own news feed about your business because it helps them to tell the story about who they are and what interests them.

As you build your page, think about your Perfect Customer Profile. What did you identify as important to them that you want to convey on your Facebook page?

You Fan page is not a direct sales page for your business. Sales and booking details should be easy to find through a link to your web site.

So what do you post on your Facebook Fan Page.

  • Stories about your customers.
  • Links to entertaining news and information about your sector.
  • Fun, interesting things about yourself and how you do what you do, that is more personal than the content on your web site.
  • Information about your business written friend to friend rather than in a business to customer style.
  • Pictures and videos of your customers enjoying your services.

3. How often should you add new content and how long should it be?

Look at how a musician uses Facebook to keep in contact with his fans. Check out Michael Franti’s Fan Page.

This is a good model to copy. You’ll notice content directly from his web site, content about him from other locations, info about the industry, and interesting bits of news specifically produced for the Fan Page.

If you post regularly on a blog, you can have that content appear automatically on your Fan Page – no extra time required.

If you already Tweet, you can have that automatically post to your Fan Page – no extra time required.

Other than these automatic posts, plan to add new content to your fan page several times a week. Keep your Fan Page in the back of your mind as you go through your email, sort through your Google Alerts on your business sector, and work on your business. Here’s a past post to show you how to set up Google Alerts if you haven’t already.

Keep ideas in your idea files for future Facebook Fan Page posts. Check out this post on keeping an ideas file.

Schedule time for Facebook. You will want to check in as a part of your daily routine when you are checking email to see if you have new fans and to respond to any messages or notifications. – 5 to 10 minutes max.

Plan time once or twice a week to add new content to your Fan Page. Pull info from your ideas files, or from information you collected from Google Alerts. – ½ hour max. Remember you’re not writing more than a few sentences, or posting more than a few photos.

Facebook is a great way to build a following for your business, and to turn loyal customers into an army of word-of-mouth advocates. Use it wisely and you’ll see great results.

Are you already on Facebook? Share your URL so we can become fans!

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1 Eileen Hook February 6, 2010 at 10:04 am

Hi Joanne – well, my Facebook Fan page isn’t for tourism, but it is a business albeit a side business! Here’s the url – I don’t have 25 fans yet, so I have the long version url.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Talbott-Co/253995053443?ref=ts

Check out my etsy site too, maybe you’ll find something you like. (www.mrstalbott.etsy.com)

Good to see you in Chico!

Eileen

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