Image from: Travelocity / Facebook
With Facebook’s looming IPO, the world will know definitively what the market thinks the site is worth. Facebook today is much like the internet itself was 10 or 15 years go: businesses felt they had to be out there, but often built first and asked questions later.
Many Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) have Facebook pages. To compare their relative successes, Compete first assessed how many unique consumers (UVs) visited these pages and then compared UVs to the same sites’ volume of “likes.” Using UVs means no double-counting of people that did the same thing twice in a given period (i.e., no false positives) and leverages Compete’s patented normalization methodology. We also assessed the extent to which a visitor to an OTA’s Facebook page also visited the OTA’s primary site. We included Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz and Travelocity.
Active Use of Facebook Pages
“Likes” is a common but potentially misleading measure of Facebook might because they are cumulative rather than current. (Think about how much snow has fallen in total over the past 10 years vs. how much is falling now or this winter.) UVs to OTA Facebook pages is a better indicator of current engagement. In December 2011, Orbitz led the set with 16,100 UVs to its page. Travelocity trailed the set with 4,600.
While Expedia is #2 in Facebook page UVs, it leads the set in terms of “likes” with over 1.5 million (table), far ahead of the other sites shown. The ratio of Facebook visitors to “likes” is one way to suggest the current “productivity” of all those likes. On that basis, Priceline leads the set with productivity over 10%.
Facebook Visitors Interplay with OTA Sites
Most marketing campaigns and outreach efforts are designed to drive business, which in this case would mean booking travel on an OTA site. Compete next assessed the extent to which each brand’s Facebook visitors in December also visited the brand’s primary site. Priceline had the greatest cross-pollination, with 77% of its December Facebook page visitors also visiting Priceline.com (bottom part of stacked column). The rest of the set averaged 30%, which implies the potential to drive more traffic from Facebook to their sites.
Next Steps We’d “Like” To See
As expected, measuring the value of and influence of Facebook on a brand is far more complicated than counting “likes.” For example, there were several “winners” in the metrics assessed here. Orbitz’s Facebook page has the most unique visitors, Expedia had the most likes, Priceline the best productivity based on “likes” as well as the greatest cross-pollination of its Facebook page with its primary site.
Measuring success is also a moving target as OTAs and other travel companies evolve how they use Facebook. Several, such as Travelocity, have “votes” on their pages. Priceline is using William Shatner’s last hurrah in part to promote its Negotiation app. Some will add booking engines.
Next steps we’d like to see include the following: