According to Social Times , 52% of people acknowledge that their friends’ photos inspire their travel plans—prompting people in their dreaming phase. When travelers plan and compare, social media again guides the conversation: travelers are 44% more likely to learn about a new travel brand on Twitter. When it comes to booking, 33% of those who use social media to research travel changed their original hotel selections.
No longer can independent hotels treat social media as a distraction or a side project. Rather, it’s time for hoteliers to embrace social media and become socially savvy.
What Social Can Do for Your Hotel
- Transforming customer service. Want to hear and respond to complaints? Want to know what people love about your property? All of those conversations take place online—on people’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. Reaching out and connecting with guests about their complaints and compliments in real-time is an effective tactic for managing their experiences.
- Know your competition. Just as people will talk about your property on social media, they do the same for your competition. See what people say about others and use that information to hone your own messaging.
- An alternative avenue for marketing. Using social media, you can get more, and often free, advertising.
- Express your brand. Are you a fun party property? Are you known for having a luxurious spa? Your social media accounts allow you to further embody your brand and ultimately reach more in-market travelers.
Getting a Grip on Your Hotel’s Social Handles
Having a social presence means putting your property on one or more social networks, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, and more. Trying to keep up with all of these networks is an impossible task and will end up monopolizing all of your time to little benefit. Instead, here are some quick tips to get your property social and running successfully:
Focus your efforts. Trying to hit every single social network is too time-consuming to do it well. Instead, focus your efforts on two to begin.
Find the channel that fits. If you’re a spa resort, chances are LinkedIn isn’t the best place for you to post ads given its business focus. Advertising your business center amenities on Instagram also isn’t the most thoughtful effort. Think about what features you want to highlight, and pick social networks that speak to those. If customers love sharing photos of them sitting poolside, chances are Instagram and Facebook are your best bet.
Have fun! Not everything has to be serious and social networks are the perfect place to be you. For example, Hotel Indigo in San Antonio went viral recently after a guest asked for a photo of Nick Cage on her pillow. The hotel came through and the customer posted all about it online, bringing lots of attention to the hotel and their sense of humor.
Use tools to smooth the process. For going social, consider planning out your tweet or Instagram calendar with Buffer or Hootsuite. This will allow you to schedule your promotions, so you won’t have to sit behind a computer all day. These types of tools also optimize to tweet when your audience is online.
Channeling Your Hotel’s Social Media Presence
Ok, you understand the importance of social and even what you can do with it. But, it’s overwhelming trying to dip even just your toe into the social media pond. Not to worry, here’s a quick rundown of each channel and how you can tap into it:
YouTube— Creating a video to showcase your property is a great idea, but keep it short. Videos shouldn’t be more than 3 minutes.
Google+— While it’s not necessarily the most popular social media platform, setting up your Google+ page is good for your SEO. Tip: It’s best to have your Google+ headline stay on one line.
Twitter— Updates must be fewer than 140 characters, including hashtags—though that is soon to change. If you add an image, it can’t be more than 118 characters. Tip: Add images—it can help inspire ‘wanderlust’ and tweets with images get 2x more engagement.
Hotel on Rivington uses hashtags and photos to promote one of their specials in an organic ad. By using hashtags like #yoga and #NYC, they can capture people searching for just those terms and draw them into their website. The image, especially with the view for which they are known, inspires people to book with them.
Facebook— There’s no length maximum or minimum for Facebook. However, posts with 40 or more characters receive 86% more engagement. Tip: You can use hashtags on Facebook, but as with any hashtag, avoid special characters. If you’re combining multiple words, make sure it’s legible and doesn’t spell out a different, unintended word.
320 Guest Ranch posts on Facebook about a moose spotting, using a number of hashtags, including their own (#my320). While they don’t actually feature their property, or even directly mention it, they help visitors or potential visitors get a feel for the kind of experience they offer.
Instagram and Pinterest can also be utilized, especially to intercept travelers at the ‘dream stage’. Beautiful pictures of your views or spa with hashtags directing people back to your property can help inspire wanderlust. Skift notes , however, that Instagram might be a good channel for large chain brands, but without a huge social media team and budget, it might be difficult for independent properties to get the best bang for your buck.
Owning your social media presence is certainly an important step in improving your hotel’s marketing efforts. If you’re looking for more ways to elevate your marketing efforts, download Sojern’s Guide to Boutique Hotel Marketing here.