Seven Things To Know About Expedia’s Award-Winning FriendTrips Facebook Campaign
Expedia’s famous “FriendTrips” Facebook app/game was awarded Digital Marketing “Best of Show” at the 56th Annual Adrian Awards competition. The award was presented to Expedia Media Solutions, the advertising sales division of Expedia, Inc. The award event was hosted by Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI), the Adrian Awards honor those who have created exceptional advertising, digital marketing and public relations campaigns in the hospitality, travel and tourism industries.
While this is good news, in this article, lets also look ‘behind-the-scene’ of how Expedia made this happen.
In March 2011, Expedia had the objective of increasing their Facebook fan base by keeping cost (per fan) into account and also with the intention of not spamming customers. To make this goal achievable, Expedia partnered with Context Optional, one of the preferred development consultants of Facebook.
These two companies worked together and created a campaign (rather a game) that was aligned with Expedia’s line of business and its travellers. The campaign was called “Expedia FriendTrips” with the tagline ‘The trip of a lifetime’.
FriendTrips is a Facebook game/app that was launched on March 31, 2011. First, users have to ‘like’ Expedia’s Facebook page. Then, a user can create a virtual plane and invite 5 other friends to onboard the plane. One person acts as the pilot and all invitees are passengers. The pilot navigates the plane to one of the 13 destinations identified by Expedia. A pilot or a passenger is entitled to receive prizes that range upto 1 million USD. That’s the campaign all about.
Expedia partnered with nine travel brands and 13 destination marketing organizations (DMOs) for the FriendTrips campaign.
The campaign was planned and executed for 6 weeks, at the end of campaign, Expedia noticed some amazing results:
- Their Facebook fan base crossed their target of 1 million, a 750% increase [as we write, it is 1.7 million]
- User engagement in Facebook wall during the campaign increased 15-30 times
- Cost per fan was lowered by 400%
All these happened in just record six weeks time.
What are all the critical factors that made this campaign ‘click’?
- Doing things differently: Expedia didn’t come up with a uber-creative image advertisement or a video advertisement, they didn’t do email spams, they didn’t just post deals in Facebook and remain quiet. Rather, Expedia decided to do a travel-game in social media.
- Timing it right: 2010 and 2011 were the years of FarmVille and Angry Birds in Facebook. So, users were used / exposed to social games. Expedia nailed it right by designed a travel-game based campaign in 2011. This timing cannot be any better.
- Choosing right partners: Expedia had very clear goal – to reach 1 million Facebook fans. They wanted to do something in Facebook. They partnered with Context Optional, one of the preferred development consultants of Facebook to execute it end-to-end.
- Designing a viral plan: The game was not decided like a play-alone game. Rather, the rule of the game was to invite 5 friends to join the plane as passengers. And, the best part is, a user can take a plane any number of times. And the rules were laid out to fuel engagement – more the number of friends a user invites, higher the possibility of winning. Inviting 25 friends doubled the chance of winning, inviting 50 friends tripled the chance of winning.
- Creating sense of urgency: The campaign was neither indefinite nor for a long duration. It’s just 6 weeks. All action has to happen in 6 weeks. Creating a sense of urgency works very well in travel industry. Living proofs for this point are the flash sale deal websites like Groupon and LivingSocial.
- Engaging users: To fuel the campaign, Expedia Facebook admins posted daily or twice-daily with engaging and fresh content. Also, by announcing a daily reward scheme (in addition to the big final prize) Expedia was able to engage users much better from day 1.
- Marketing 360 degrees: Expedia adopted a multi-channel marketing campaign by leveraging Context Optional’s Efficient Frontier platform. Expedia did everything possible to promote FriendTrips campaign. They approached celebrities to talk about FriendTrips, ran Facebook advertisements, sponsored stories in leading content portals, published print advertisements, PRs and email marketing.
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