Lonely Planet's director of online marketing will share the company's insights at NewCo in Melbourne

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Seb Neylan. Image: Lonely Planet, Facebook.

Facebook took another shot at rival network SnapChat this week, with the launch of a new feature that allows users to bring a guest into a Live Instagram Story.

Facebook’s real target, however, is YouTube, as the social network ramps up its pivot towards live video, original content creation, and video- and gif-based advertising products.

After a few mis-steps around reporting user engagement, Facebook now has most brands accepting they need video to drive reach.

Lonely Planet, the world’s largest travel guide book publisher, has pivoted several times, from annual tomes, to their website and app, to social media.

Seb Neylan, Director of Online Marketing for Lonely Planet, said Facebook, and video more broadly, would be the main focus of their investments for the next twelve months.

“Facebook as a paid channel for targeted traffic outperforms everything else, time and time again,” Neylan said.

Video is also a natural fit for a company that aims to inspire world travellers, so Neylan’s team launched a video hub on the Lonely Planet site earlier this year, a move Neylan admits has already been a “game changer”.

“[Our video hub] continues to perform, both on site and across our social channels, and it provides a great avenue for us to work with like-minded brands like GoPro.

“For those in our audience not travelling or planning a trip, it gives them a go-to place for pure inspiration content about the world.”

Video has quickly become the battleground for social media platforms, with Facebook also recently announcing they had finally moved into testing 4K (HD) videos on the site – something YouTube has been using since 2010.

YouTube and Facebook each have over one billion users, and 45% of people [online] spend more than an hour on Facebook or YouTube videos each week.

While marketing spend has followed this trend, with 87% of online marketers now using video content, it’s also been driven by the algorithms of both platforms.

For Facebook, however, it’s personal, and the social network is determined to keep as much content on its platform as possible. A recent study found videos published directly onto Facebook enjoy ten times more reach than YouTube links.

Brands and publishers that rely on the social networks for traffic and engagement understand the difficulties of managing changing algorithms. But Neylan believes in sticking to the company’s mission – to encourage people to “explore every day” – is more important than chasing digital trends.

“Especially within digital where things move quickly, it can be tempting for some perhaps to dismiss experience from the past – this is a folly.

“It’s easy to seek out information in today’s day and age. What’s harder to grasp is good judgement.”

Seb Neylan will be presenting at the Melbourne NewCo festival on November 23.

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