Why you can’t ignore social media in hotel marketing

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We now use social media so regularly that it is amazing to remember it is actually quite a new invention and that just ten years ago, there were nowhere near as many sites allowing us to connect with others so easily.

Today, it is more than just a platform with which to contact friends and meet people – it is a communications behemoth that means even the biggest brands are just a tweet or Facebook post away.That has changed the marketing and customer services landscape for everyone and the travel industry is no different. Let’s take a closer look at hotel social media, how you might be using it – and why you should be making the most of it if you aren’t already. Why social media is important The statistics surrounding social media are staggering. While the internet has 3.2 billion users, Statista estimates there are 2.3 billion active social media users, with each one having an average of 5.54 accounts, according to Global Web Index. That’s a huge audience at your fingertips and it means a vast pool of potential guests for hotel owners, particularly if they can achieve the ultimate goal of shares and the positive impact of word of mouth advertising.

Someone writing about a great hotel stay on their Facebook wall or Twitter feed might reach a staggering 150 friends or followers, which is excellent free advertising.Also, social media helps to level the playing field for smaller properties. Where in the past someone might only go with a big-name hotel because they could be sure of its reputation, today they can check out their peer reviews on social media and feel confident choosing a smaller brand.Of course, it can work the opposite way and mean that bad reviews are quickly shared too, but social media is the ultimate tool for boosting the efficiency of your word of mouth advertising and effectively turbo-charging the bang you get for your buck.

Half-hearted approaches won’t work Although a presence on multiple social media channels is essential today, hotel marketers can’t simply assume it’s enough to create an account, update it once every blue moon and expect big results. Half-hearted approaches don’t work because you’ll just be overtaken by a brand that does put the effort in, so implement a carefully considered strategy and then stick to it like you would any other campaign.The most important thing to remember is that you should always have something to say whenever you log on, otherwise you might resort to churning out sales messages that no one wants to read. Plan your content so that it includes interesting topics to appeal directly to your target demographic, whether that’s video tours of your hotel for YouTube or a blog about your summer party for the website.

If you don’t share regularly and keep followers interested in you and interacting with you, then you risk being left behind.The hotels that get the best return on investment from social media are those that stand out with a clear emotional value to their guests and that put plenty of time into what they publish, even if that means putting on extra staff to keep on top of all the different channels.What to put on social media There is no set right or wrong way to carry out social media campaigns; instead, they should be personalised to your hotel and specifically tailored towards your guests. It’s fine to test things out and see what happens and then tweak what you’re doing if it’s not working quite the way you’d like.Consider putting yourself in your guests’ shoes. Perhaps they’re coming for a two-week beach break and want to know what there is to do for families in the nearby resort. You could cater for them by writing an article for your bog and posting a YouTube video with clips of you in the top five attractions.

Another idea is to use social media for listening purposes and then target campaigns based on what you hear. For example, you could join forums on topics you know your guests would like – hiking, for example. Take note of what the posters are writing and see if there is an opportunity to suggest your hotel for their requirements. Be careful here though, as people won’t want to feel they’re being stalked.Hashtag campaigns are another good idea, as is inviting your past guests to submit photos for a chance to be featured on your homepage. Think carefully and you could easily come up with something clever that would really appeal to social media users.Don’t look for big-money resultsWhen you’re using social media for marketing, you shouldn’t expect instant, big-money results.

Although it is worth measuring the direct revenue generated, keep the long-term goal of creating loyalty and potential future guests in mind.Also, continue to use social media to complement your other marketing efforts, rather than instead of them for the best results.

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