At The Points Guy, we had a dilemma in 2017. Our content, ranging from travel, airlines, points and miles, credit cards, and more, is thorough—highly technical in some cases for the advanced audience that we’ve garnered since our inception in 2010. But with this detail came an inherent challenge: How do we connect the highly technical with the basics, and how do we give readers an opportunity to learn from each other? At TPG, our community is as important as the content that we produce. In fact, in the points and miles world, community is everything. Firsthand experiences drive the conversation. Not only has TPG been publishing reader stories longer than nearly any other kind of content, but many of our most-read articles originate as tips from our passionate community. However, there was no single forum to discuss all things TPG. Reddit and Flyertalk existed, sure, but these lacked curation and accessibility to most beginner or even intermediate points and miles users. We knew we needed to give readers a place to learn from each other and advance their knowledge. Further, we sought a single space for readers to celebrate the benefits of what we write about everyday: airlines, credit cards, points and miles, travel and the people that benefit from using them strategically. Our solution: launching a specialized Facebook community with the primary intent of giving readers a place to personalize their experience and travel more. Within it, they can ask questions, share experiences, and learn from each other.
We didn’t want to just launch a group, we wanted to create the premiere community for learning how to travel better and more affordably. After careful research into our users’ behavior and interests, and research into the Facebook group platform, we decided on the core values that would drive growth and constant engagement, offering a real value-add to our readers’ learning experience. The group, TPG Lounge, would exist as an extension of the TPG site; users would be able to talk points, miles, travel and engage with like-minded travelers in a setting that, we hoped, would produce a curated, personalized community.
After promoting its launch on thepointsguy.com and across our social channels, we led the group by example. We filled the community with questions and images meant to spark conversation, lift up our community members’ pragmatism, financial literacy, aspirational travels and sincere love of aviation. To best provide an accurate representation of the breadth of content that TPG covers on its website, we focused on curating content, and required all new posts be screened by our community manager and a team of volunteer moderators that we selected based on their expertise (e.g. airline alliances and points programs), interests, willingness to help other community members and a general disdain of hate-speech and trolling.
To ensure members of all skill levels had a voice, and to be certain that we followed through on our commitment to a personalized experience, we launched weekly “threads.” From #BeginnerTuesday and #WingviewWednesday to #CreditCard411 and #StateYourDestinationSunday, these recurring posts provided community members the opportunity to ask questions they may be too timid to ask to the entire group, and posting weekly with a hashtag (#) was our way of creating a centralized conversation while integrating Facebook search best practices.
And it worked. We had created a group that was mostly autonomous in its service to those within it. People answered each others questions, reported behavior they deemed unacceptable, and posted high quality, highly engaging posts to the group. We made sure to keep the group relevant to timely events. For example, during the Thanksgiving/holiday season, we create a giant thread for members to share unused airport lounge passes, drink coupons and even upgrade certificates during the holiday travel season, and community members did just that.
We kept adapting. In 2019, we shifted our strategy to incorporate more personalities and firsthand experiences from both the community and the TPG team. We found new ways to leverage our incredibly passionate and opinionated community to drive user interaction and facilitate conversations about the most hot-button issues in the world of travel and points & miles. It worked, too. By taking stances on issues related to our core areas and encouraging healthy debate, our engagement rate spiked—with an active community some 20% above the benchmark for most other groups. We doubled down on promoting authenticity, first-hand accounts, mixed content (humor and hot-takes mixed in with technical tips and information) and community-staff interaction. In short: since mid 2019, we’ve kept it real.
The TPG Lounge has become the premiere community to discuss points, miles, credit cards and travel on Facebook. In fact, the TPG Lounge has become a unique destination. Our editorial team has written hundreds of articles based on information gleaned from this community to help other readers—from community-sourced tips on using points to travel across the globe and pro-tips on packing light on a budget to lengthy write-ups about how readers used their points to circle the globe in first class; the social team has leveraged stories into top-performing Instagram content for the @thepointsguy account; with just a tiny full-time team, we have trained our community to answer tens of thousands of questions about points, miles, credit card and travel best practices because they want to. Almost every day, members of the community report on bucket list trips they’ve accomplished because of what they’ve learned in the TPG Lounge, and the feedback loop that we’ve created. Even our editorial, data science, product and SEO teams use feedback in this group to inform strategic decisions across all of TPG’s verticals. Best of all, we’re just getting started. We continue to use key learnings from this community to launch others on Facebook—including TPG Family, TPG Small Business and TPG Women, with a combined 100,000+ membership of dedicated, highly engaged users. TPG wouldn’t exist without its active community. This group is the latest extension of that, and it reminds us of this fundamental piece of our brand’s identity every day.
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