Are people talking about your travel brand on Facebook?

In a fit of procrastination this morning I looked at the Facebook pages for a dozen travel brands along with ten travel bloggers and collected the two numbers in the left hand column: “Like this” and “Talk about this”. I was curious if there was much correlation between the two — seems there is.

Most are familiar with the Like This number. It represents the number of people (or bots masquerading as people) who have, at some stage in their like “liked” your page.

For Talk About This I went to Googletron which sent me to Quora which sent me to the Clix Group where I learned that “Essentially, the metric tracks the number of people who have created a story from the page in the past seven days.” There is a number of ways you can do that, by liking the page, posting on the wall, commenting on the wall and so on (see the Clix Group page for a full list).

So, I think I’m right in saying Like is everyone who has ever liked you and Talking about is those who have somehow interacted with you in the past seven days.

What I then did was select a dozen travel brands and ten bloggers and collated their likes and talking abouts. The only criteria was that the site had to have at least 1,000 people who had liked it. I then divided the number of talks about by the number of likes, which gave me a percentage score for each site.

The Facebook pages are (in alphabetical order):

Travel brands
Bootsnall https://www.facebook.com/BootsnAllTravel
FodorsTravel https://www.facebook.com/FodorsTravel
FootprintBooks https://www.facebook.com/FootprintBooks
Frommers https://www.facebook.com/Frommers
KLM https://www.facebook.com/KLM
LonelyPlanet https://www.facebook.com/lonelyplanet
MatadorNetwork https://www.facebook.com/matadornetwork
RoughGuides https://www.facebook.com/roughguides
Travelfish https://www.facebook.com/travelfish
Travellerspoint https://www.facebook.com/Travellerspoint
TripAdvisor https://www.facebook.com/TripAdvisor
VisitBritain https://www.facebook.com/LoveUK

I picked the above as examples of either major legacy publishers in travel (eg Lonely Planet, Rough Guides) or new media (Bootsnall, Matador etc). Travelfish.org is my site. Why KLM and Visit Britain you ask? Because they’re both often talked of as best case examples, so I wanted to include them to provide a benchmark of sorts.

Travel bloggers
AlmostFearless https://www.facebook.com/almostfearless
Everything Everywhere https://www.facebook.com/EverythingEverywhere
Indie Travel Podcast https://www.facebook.com/indietravel
JonnyVagabond https://www.facebook.com/johnnyvagabond.rtw
LegalNomads https://www.facebook.com/LegalNomads
Malaysia Asia https://www.facebook.com/MalaysiaAsiaPage
NomadicMatt https://www.facebook.com/nomadicmatt
TwentySomethingTravel https://www.facebook.com/TwentySomethingTravel
TwoBackpackers https://www.facebook.com/twobackpackers
Uncornered Market https://www.facebook.com/UncorneredMarket

In picking the bloggers, some (Everything Everywhere, Legalnomads, NomadicMatt and Uncornered Market) I know personally, others I follow or have heard of them frequently. Nothing scientific at work here.

The results
Save a couple of outliers (KLM for travel brands and Legal Nomads for bloggers) anything over 3% and you’re ahead of the pack. The bloggers tended to rank slightly higher, perhaps due to the more interactive vibe of that slice of the web or also perhaps because of generally lower overall numbers.

Chart of Facebook user interaction

Chart of Facebook user interaction

Some more thoughts:

Have budget? Use it wisely
I guess it helps to be an international airline like KLM as they’ve some budget to do some pretty cool things to get more energy out of the page, but then VisitBritain, which has received considerable praise (and I assume budget) was lagging a bit in the crowd.

Be yourself
I dropped Jodi (of Legalnomads) a line to ask after her Facebook activity and she replied saying “I don’t tend to post based on what I think my FB fans might like so much as I post the things that I find engaging or interesting, which I hope is what led them to the page in the first place. Times when I travel I post less external links & more photos from the road. It’s been very rewarding to have such a great response and engagement on the page.”

Makes sense. If you’re trying to make a connection with people, it’s best to try and be yourself. Perhaps more of a challenge for a brand than a blogger — which may explain the slightly higher rate for bloggers.

Post frequently
With the Travelfish.org Facebook page we post four to five times a day Monday to Friday (less on weekends) and that appears to have helped the reader interactions. Compare that to say Rough Guides, which is publishing to the wall every now and then, often with stretches of 3-4 days between posts.

Post photos
Photos, regardless of quality tend to get a lot of likes and comments. Images embedded in the wall-stream get better interaction than a link to a photo off-site, but then you lose the traffic across to your site. Bit of a tradeoff here and one needs to make a decision where you want people to be consuming your content.

Is it worth it?
I’m no Facebook fan personally, my true allegience lay with Twitter, but at the start of the year we decided to make a concerted push to increase our presence on Facebook. We set a goal of attaining 10,000 fans in the year (which we’re not going to make) and to post on the site frequently.

Facebook is now our second largest source of traffic after Google. Facebook brings us more visitors than Bing or Yahoo Google and it tends towards good traffic.

So yes, it is worth it :)

I’m no genius with numbers, the data I used for the graph above is here if you’d like to cook it up other ways — do let me know what you come up with.

A few ways Google Webmaster Tools could be improved

Don’t want to work on what you should be? Need some procrastination fodder? Head over to Google Webmaster Tools and spend some time fixing up stuff on your site.

I’ve been spending quite a while there recently and while it is very useful it could be moreso and here are a few suggestions Google could implement to help improve matters.

Site Configuration -> URL Parameters
Like much of GWT, this section is poorly written and confusing, but what it really needs is a checkbox beside each displayed link reading “This querystring hasn’t been used within the site architecture and has been dealt with by 301 redirectes for over 3 years. You can ignore it now.”

Your site on the web -> Keywords
Where possible, the words listed as being on your site should actually appear on your site. In our case, one of the words is “Guinea” supposedly 71,000 times. Yet, of the 10 pages listed, it only appears on one, and on that page once.

Your site on the web -> Internal links
Why is there over 16,000 internal links counted to a page but in fact only 200 pages listed? Last I checked each of the 200 pages didn’t contain 80 links apiece to the parent page.

Diagnostics -> Crawl errors -> Web
Add an option to say “I fixed this a month ago, you can ignore it now”.

Diagnostics -> Crawl errors -> Not followed
Add an option to say “I fixed this a month ago, you can ignore it now”.

Diagnostics -> Crawl errors -> Not found
Add an option to say “I fixed this a month ago, you can ignore it now”. Also needs an option saying “This link is from an external site obviously managed by a cretin or a bot. Ignore it” Better still, just split the data between internal broken links and external inbound broken links.

Diagnostics -> Crawl errors -> HTML Suggestions
Add an option to say “I fixed this a month ago, you can ignore it now”.

Labs -> Site performance
Why is this chart totally different to the one in Google Analytics? Would be great to see this include average connection speed as seemingly many Travelfish.org users are utilising an abacus to access the site.