You could argue that social media has been a major revolutionary player in the 21st century.
It has changed the way we communicate and consume.
It has changed the way we approach business and branding.
It has even changed the way we see the world.
The travel industry has been dramatically impacted by social media. A recent article from Translate Media tells us that 97 percent of millennial’s will post images, updates and videos of their travels.
We have all been privy to our friend’s holiday snaps when scrolling Facebook, or swooned over a postcard pretty beach on Instagram, we don’t even need to see the stats – the proof is right there in front of us every day.
For hotels, social media has proved to be a valuable marketing tool. It could be said that sites like Instagram and Pinterest are partially responsible for the boom in boutique tourism.
Travel influencers have become the new celebrity, and international markets have never seemed closer now you can go viral rather than relying on outdated modes of print publishing.
Yet with the good, comes the bad and the ugly – social media can tear your business down in seconds (remember the United Airlines incident?).
In short, hotels shouldn’t shy away from social media marketing, instead they should get creative and embrace it. Social media is a valuable tool, it has helped to level the playing field for all brands. To help you get started on your journey, here are 11 amazing social media marketing tips for hotels…
1. Know your Platforms
For any hotel turning towards social media, it helps to understand the various platforms and what they are used for.
As a hotelier, Instagram should quickly become your new best friend – but only if you have amazing photos to share. Instagram is all about beautiful bright imagery, a fact which works hand in hand with tantalizing travel marketing.
Instagram has a simple power – you share pictures, your get likes, and your followers grow. It’s also a firm favorite with the millennial market, as pointed out by Review Pro in this article. However, Instagram should be used to build your brand story and to promote your place in real time.
Facebook is great for mixing up your media; pictures, videos, blogs and snappy headlines are all great for keeping your Facebook fans interested and engaged. However, its important to utilize quality and keep your brand voice in check.
2. Have a Posting Plan
Timing can be everything, and social media is no exception. Social media marketing isn’t something you should just dip your toe in, nor is it something you should hurl yourself head first into.
The trick to success is building a plan that hinges on consistency.
Building a plan as to how many times you post and varying your content is the best execution. If you post too little then you will lose your name in the masses, too much and you also lost impact.
This article from Forbes lays it out on the table suggesting 1-5 posts on Facebook per month is optimal.
3. Be Responsive
If you build it, they will come.
And once they are here, you need to acknowledge that.
Remember, social media can be a double-edged sword, and it is vital to stay on top of your reputation. While happy guests will work wonders by sharing images and gushing about what a great time they had, unhappy guests can drag your name through the mud in a very public fashion. Again, remember United Airlines!
Make sure that you have a dedicated person responding to comments, staying on top of negative posts, and connecting with potential guest queries via your social media platforms.
4. Get Engaged
For your followers to engage, you need to be engaging. One of the best ways to invite engagement is through competitions, rewards and prizes.
Ask previous guests to share a picture they took during their last stay; the winner receives a prize.
You can also ask followers to like and share a post or picture on their own social media sites in exchange for being entered into a competition for a free stay, special upgrade, or discount.
This link from Business 2 Community boasts some great ideas for social media contests and competitions to boost engagement ratings.
5. Be Trendy with Tags
Hashtags, you either love them or you hate them, but you can’t ignore them. If used well, hashtags can help with SEO, boost your social shares, and will make it so much easier for your guests to find your brand.
Be timely with your hashtags and think about what’s trending.
For example; with Christmas on the horizon you can look for popular hashtags that have a Christmas theme and work out how to weave them into your own Instagram posts.
In the run up to the big day, you can post a seasonally inspired image everyday matched with the trending tag #ChristmasCountDown. Coschedule have a great in-depth piece on how to use hashtags that you can find here.
Using hashtags well show that your brand is on the ball.
6. Air your Authentic Side
Free from the shackles of your website and the careful curation of print media, social media marketing invites you to share your brands beautiful and unique personality. The most important tip when it comes to social media is to be genuine.
While it may seem tempting to polish and shine every comment and post, you should still aim to keep a hint of effortless.
Also, be wary about deleting every single negative remark – a pristine page can sometimes look more suspicious then one that has a few grumblings that have been responded to in a timely, polite and well thought out manner.
Another way of keeping things authentic is to provide snippets of content that cover a behind the scenes feel. From snapshots of your breakfast chef to celebrating a staff members birthday – keep it clean, fun and fresh.
7. Forget the Sales Pitch
Nothing will cause your followers to drop off the map like a ton of self-promotion. Social media marketing is not about pushing the big sell. It’s about sharing interesting and informative content, being inspiring, and enticing them to book a room because they have fallen in love with your brand.
The rule of thumb when it comes to self-promotion and social media marketing is to apply an 80/20 rule.
80 percent of your content should be organic engagement via sharing useful articles, destination guides, travel tips, behind the scenes info, and posts.
The other 20 percent can be spent sharing social campaigns, pushing positive reviews, and generally putting your name in lights. This piece from Upcontent shares some interesting insights on the 80 /20 rule.
8. Look Outside your Window
Hotels should look outside their own four walls when it comes to creating engaging posts for social media. While having stunning Instagram imagery of your breakfasts and brand-new sheets works a treat, you need to place yourself as a destination expert.
Share ideas, inspirational posts, informative guides, and gorgeous imagery of the destination and you suddenly crack open a whole new vault of content. Your guests are looking for information and guidance on the local area, be the one to give it them.
9. Tap Their Minds for Feedback
One of the best things about social media marketing is that if used well, it can become a dialogue. On platforms like Facebook, you have pure unfettered access to converse with your audience and you can use this to ask for feedback, to listen to their answers, and to implement their ideas to grow your business.
Something as simple as putting a poll up, asking your guests to vote on which wallpaper they like best, or asking them to tag heir favorite thing about your hotel. If used well and without demanding too much, you can dabble in using social media marketing as a focus group on what you are doing well and which high notes you are failing to hit.
10. Build a Community
Business can be a competitive place, but for the hospitality industry it can work to form relationships with other local brands. By building a community with local restaurants, attractions, shops and bars you can work together to offer your customers more.
Using social media as a place to offer your guests special deals at local restaurants and bars also helps you to give back to your loyal followers at the same time as creating synergy in the area. You can share each other’s posts and campaigns and generally form a mutually beneficial working friendship that generates new content for social media and brings in the business.
11. Bring in an Expert
If you have lashings of time, perfect penmanship, and a keen understanding of how social media works – then by all means, tackle it inhouse. Remember, social media marketing is something you need to start getting right if you hope for any ROI. You need to think like a publisher, a photographer, a marketer, a PR expert. It can be a lot of bite to chew.
Consider bringing in an expert; whether it’s a social media marketing consultant or even a savvy writer, an admin assistant to respond to all those Facebook comments and queries. Make no mistake social media marketing is a vital part of your business, don’t get left behind.