How do I use social media to boost business?
This is a question that could apply to many sectors but within the fiercely competitive hotel industry, social media is something that generates lots of debate and some action, with varying degrees of success.
There are some hotel brands that implement their social engagement strategy brilliantly, such as Secret Escapes. Rarely a day goes by when you don’t see a Facebook like or share from one of your friends, many of whom have probably never even booked a room through the company – yet they are actively sharing information and promoting the brand. There are others that set up a Facebook page or group, post a few photos, beg for “likes” then do nothing more.
So, what is the advice for the hotel that wants to engage through social media but doesn’t know how to do it? How can you use platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest effectively to generate interest, dialogue and hopefully room occupancy?
Regardless of whether you run a small boutique hotel or are the general manager of a reputable venue within a well known chain of hotels, our top tips on implementing social media for hotels are the same:
10 top tips
1. Post, don’t spam
The general rule of thumb is to post between once a day and three times per week. Any more and Facebook fans start to feel bombarded and you run the risk of your updates being reported at spam. Any less and they might forget about you.
2. Stay engaged
This means responding to comments, updating photos, adding videos and sharing information – just as you would with a personal Facebook or Twitter account.
3. Reward your social media community
Posting events with an exclusive discount code makes people feel as though they are getting something exclusive and you are more likely to get “shares” across the platform as they pass on discount codes to their mates. This is something that big brands like Dell do extremely well and is something that hotels should be doing, to generate loyalty.
4. Ask questions
Actively seek feedback on particular topics. This helps generate thoughts around consumer expectations and they are likely to revisit your Facebook or Twitter to see what other people are saying, how you are responding and what changes are being made by you as a result.
5. Address the haters!
Whether it is a bad review or a throwaway comment, you have some control. Respond in a professional way to the reviewer. If you aren’t defensive and welcome feedback then the complainant will run out of steam and may even become one of your best ambassadors as they feel you are listening to them and taking their comments on board. TripAdvisor allows all hotels to respond to consumer reviews.
6. Check tagged photos
If people publicly post photos where they have tagged your hotel, they may be visible on your timeline and a lot of this depends on your privacy settings.. If you like them, great. If you don’t, not so great and you may want to ask politely for them to be removed.
7. Monitor online behaviour
Keep on top of your promotional updates. Are they being hidden and if so, are are they being ignored because they are boring, viewed as spam, of no interest to the individual or marked as offensive? The aim is to keep the hidden number as low as possible and react if you see a trend emerging.
8. Offer free, social wifi
Many hotels still charge for WiFi. By offering it free you attract more visitors and by using a social wifi solution you can get something back by gaining valuable information on who is using it, their age and gender, where they are relaxing in your hotel when they’re online, etc. All of this data can be used to target them more effectively and you can generate lots of Facebook ‘likes” and Twitter “follows”.
9. Recruit staff for free
More and more companies are using social media to highlight vacancies. Post job information on your timeline with a few attractive perks and you should see the applicants come flooding in.
10. To sell or not to sell?
Social posts should be about an engaging, two-way conversation, not about you desperately trying to sell your product. Please bear in mind the 80/20 rule – 80% relationship building, 20% sales, although we’d recommend even less of the latter!