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Social ads

3 secrets for successful social ad audiences

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postedFebruary 1, 2021

Do social ads really work in these tricky times? The other day a tour operator asked me if advertising was even worth the time and effort. The short answer is yes! The sassy answer is social ads work if the audience is:

  1. Finely tuned to meet your unique marketing goals
  2. Customized so that you’re reaching your perfect clients
  3. A powerful combination of social and email

Let’s dig into what this means for tour operators and suppliers.

What’s a finely tuned audience?

Imagine if you could show future ads to people who recently visited your website. These are most likely people who are itching to travel again, and the only nudge they need is to see the perfect trip pop up on their social feed.

This is in your tool box, but it’s missed by so many tourism pros. The option to set up a Facebook or Instagram ad audience of people who have visited your website within the last 30–180 days is baked right into your own Ads Manager account.

The first step is to create and install onto your website a tiny bit of code, called a pixel, that’s provided by Facebook. Here’s how to create your pixel in less than two minutes.

The next step is to put this pixel code onto your website. I had my web team do this for me, but with the instructions provided by Facebook, many people are able to install it themselves. Once this is done, the magic of your pixel will track people who have clicked one of your Facebook posts or ads and have gone to your website. See Figure 1 below:

Pixel creation
Figure 1

Now you’re ready to create an ad audience of these people who may be interested in traveling with you. To set up this audience, simply go to your own Ads Manager account, then click the “Audiences” option. Click the blue button “Create Audience,” then choose “Custom Audience,” then “Website.”

And you can fine-tune your pixel audience to ensure it’s timely for your campaign. Learn to include and exclude parameters to suit top, middle, and bottom of funnel strategies.

Twitter and Pinterest also offer the tools to create a pixel and build an audience from a pixel. Both platforms provide simple-to-use instructions and install guides.

Video viewers

Now imagine being able to reach back out to people who are interested in a specific destination. For example, let’s say you’ve been posting videos about an upcoming tour destination (or attraction or activity), and you notice that specific videos are getting quite a few views. This is great news!  

Let’s reach these video viewers and turn them from lookers into bookers. To ensure you’re reaching the right people with the right ad, go back to the Ads Manager page shown above in Figure 1, and this time click the “Video” option.

Then you’ll find a template where you can choose to target people based on three factors:

1. How long they watched your video

By choosing the option “People who viewed 10 seconds of your video,” you’ll create a larger audience that will work great in your top-of-funnel marketing; you’ll reach a wide and somewhat-interested audience. By choosing “People who have watched 95% of your video,” you’ll create an audience of super-interested people consistent with many bottom-of-funnel strategies.

2. Which video they watched

You can fine-tune your audience to match your upcoming tour when you select, out of all the videos you posted, only those that showcase that particular destination.

3. How long ago they viewed your video

The last option is to choose how long ago they watched your video. With all that has changed over the past year, you may want to select up to 365 days in order to capture viewers who were interested pre-COVID. If you’re looking to create an audience more geared to fans who may be ready to go right now, you’ll want to choose a shorter time frame, say, within the last 30–90 days.

Don’t miss these audience best practices, and note that Pinterest and Twitter also offer the option to target followers who have watched your videos.  

Facebook Page and Instagram engagement 

Have you noticed there is a core group of your social fans who consistently like, comment, and share your content? Wouldn’t it be valuable if you could reach back out to them in your next ad campaign? You can! Watch here.

In Figure 1 you’ll see options for “Facebook Page” and “Instagram.” These audience types allow you to select the style of engagement (from “visited your page” to “saved your page”) when creating top-, middle-, or bottom-of-funnel ads.

How to customize your ad audiences 

Is your email list performing as well for you as it did last year? If you’re like many tourism pros, you may be finding that your e-list isn’t generating the bookings it used to. These days, savvy marketers find that more marketing touch points are needed to generate a booking.

Using the long arm of marketing, it’s now possible to target social ads to people on your email list. What a great way to maximize your touch points and reach the right people.

Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and, by association, Instagram give you the option to upload your email list and then create an ad audience. On Facebook, choose the “Customer List” option shown in Figure 1 above.

Let’s think about out-of-the-box options here. You could create an email list of people whose email addresses have bounced, then upload that to your favorite social site. Since many people don’t change the email address associated with their social account when they switch jobs, you’ll now have an opportunity to reach them socially.

Similarly, you can create an email list of people who haven’t opened your emails recently. Uploading this list to your social media ad platforms gives you a way to reach these people in a channel that may work better for them.

Combine audiences for better results 

Wouldn’t it be amazing to reach back out to people who have watched your videos, visited your website, and engaged with your posts? And to take this up a notch, you can combine this outreach with your segmented email list.

This brings together all the audiences discussed in this article and reaches the right people. You can do just that when you create a “Saved Audience.” Simply go to your Ads Manager account, select “Audiences,” choose “Create Audience,” and then select “Saved Audience.” As you’re creating your new “Saved Audience,” you can add in your previously created “Custom Audiences.”

These days, finding creative ways to reach your clients doesn’t have to take hours. Turn on the power of technology to fine-tune your marketing. You’ll be staying ahead of the game by consistently reaching the right people in the right way.

Catherine Heeg, an international speaker and trainer, focuses on social media marketing strategies for the tourism and hospitality industry. Connect with her socially and at

Top photo ©elenabsl/Adobe Stock