Social media might only be a relatively new phenomenon, but it has already proven to be one of the fastest growing and most useful forms of marketing practised today. It’s now rare to see brands using print ad space as a matter of course; instead, they put their efforts into portals such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to get results.
This is hardly surprising, given that there are more than two billion active social media users out of three billion internet users worldwide, according to We Are Social. That’s a really big audience that companies don’t want to be missing out on, no matter what they have to promote. Consequently, you don’t really have much of an option but to join the throngs and set up your own hotel social media accounts if you want to avoid being left behind by your competitors.
It’s therefore lucky that social media marketing is easy to do – once you get the hang of it – and can have far-reaching effects on your marketing results, all with no financial outlay and only a cost to your available time.Advantages of using social media It can seem as though adding social media to your marketing strategy is just another of those things that will eat into your staff hours, but see it as an investment because it’s sure to pay dividends in the long run. Having a presence on sites like Instagram will put your name in front of a whole new audience, all of whom have money to spend on travel and could therefore become future guests.
Posting regular, thoughtful and informative content via social media will also help you to stand out as a thought leader in your particular industry, which adds credibility to your brand. For example, if you write an article about how to host conferences successfully and then tweet out a link to it, you should get a positive response from businesses looking to stage some kind of event. They might therefore think of you and your hotel when they come to select a venue.
Another plus point of using social media is that it helps to keep your brand name prominent in a very busy industry, which is great for creating an aide memoire when travellers open their web browser and start their travel research.Social media marketing strategies. Unfortunately, many companies don’t operate a particularly effective social media strategy even if they have already got a presence on such sites. Often, they see social as a completely separate entity from their usual marketing efforts and so it becomes disjointed and difficult to maintain.
In order to succeed, you need to integrate social with all of the other promotional techniques you use and see everything as part of one big, overall strategy.To start with, you’ll need to sit down and consider the goals you hope to achieve by becoming a social media mogul, whether that’s a higher number of bookings during quiet periods of the year or better engagement with your guests that leads to improved reviews. Next, it’s essential to think about who you see as your target audience and then choose which social media platforms would most appeal to them. For instance, if you know your guests are mostly older people, you might be missing them if you opt to only be on Instagram, which has a mostly younger audience.
Also, remember that a one-post-suits-all approach won’t work for social media, because each platform has its own individual reach and functions. You might find a good outlet for your restaurant’s recipes on Facebook, for example, but they won’t work on Twitter and Pinterest. You therefore need to have regular content for each site you opt to have a presence on.This leads us neatly on to our next point, which is having a unique and regularly updated content plan. Not only will you need one to stay on top of what piece of content is going on which site, but you’ll also require a schedule to ensure you’re posting regularly enough and putting out informative, useful content for your target audience.
Again, keeping your goals firmly in mind is essential here, because each piece of content you publish has to work towards your long-term ambitions. For example, you might want to tweet to raise awareness about your hotel name, but you’ll need a plan to convert that awareness into bookings if your long-term aim is to boost your revenues.A good technique for sites like Twitter is to keep an eye on searches and hashtags related to your industry and then step in to offer your services. A traveller might tweet that he is looking for budget hotels in central Manhattan, for instance. If you have one, you can reply suggesting your hotel and even offering a special rate if they book soon.Always start by providing interesting content that solves a problem for your target audience, but remember that engagement is important too. If you’ve written a great article for LinkedIn, don’t leave it at that; start a conversation with those who reply, ask them questions and get them involved with your brand.You could also provide behind-the-scenes pictures and videos to drive engagement, which people love because they feel they are getting a unique insight into an industry they are interested in. This in turn drives trust and could make them more likely to book with you.
Check your results Remember that it’s essential to constantly analyse your social media marketing strategy in order to continue with what gets results and ditch what doesn’t. Luckily, it’s easy to experiment with social and doesn’t cost you if you’re not particularly successful at first.Why not give it a try?