Social media gurus are busy posting New Year's Resolutions with tips for making the most of the latest apps, new sites, and marketing opportunities in 2013. There is great advice out there and some dynamic new social media platforms to consider. They are perfect for hoteliers who have embraced Social Media, established their brand, gained qualified fans and followers, understand the basics and post useful and relevant content on a regular basis.
Our resolutions are made for those who don't. They are for the property that last posted on Halloween, the hotel page with 75 fans, half of whom are on staff. They are geared to the restaurant whose bartender quit and took the Facebook password with him. They are for the DSM who set up Social Media Pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+, added links to these pages to the property web site and never posted anything – bringing potential guests to a blank Social Media page. You know who you are, so let 2013 be the year you resolve to Get Social.
I resolve that...
Rather than utilize the faceless, might-be-a-serial-killer photo option, I will have a professional head shot taken and posted for all business-related social media sites. To do otherwise sends a message that I am hiding something, don't take social media seriously or am too technically inept to upload and post a photo.
I will not assume that because someone is young and technically savvy, that they are capable of producing appropriate marketing content.
I will use clear, relevant and tasteful images that tell a story and identify the subject and the people in any photos.
I will remember that social media is a conversation, not a one-way advertising campaign. It's a great way to see what my guests are thinking and to reply to questions and concerns. I will encourage fans and followers to post comments.
I will stop pretending that Social Media is a passing fad and will show respect for the people who have spent time learning to use it. Yes, I worry about privacy and the fact that Social Media can be a huge time suck. If invited to join a network and I wish to decline, I will do so politely, without comments that are condescending, rude or paranoid. (Please don't tell me again that you are "afraid of Facebook." or " too old" for it. Neither inspires confidence.)
I will learn what a twitter hash tag is and how to use it.
I will own my Social Media pages. I will not set up a page and never look at it again, while allowing an intern, my restaurant's bartender or my bother-in-law, to manage my marketing message. I will remember my password.
I will not pay a consultant to create a Social Media page for my hotel and then leave it to die on the side of the Information Highway. Even if the page is dead, it is lying there in cyberspace, sending a very negative message to anyone who finds it. I will not set up a LinkedIn account for myself or my property and then leave it to rot online with a network of two people, one of whom is my college roommate.
I will target qualified followers - people who would be interested in our hotel and services. I will not ask my staff or my family to mine their own social media pages to find followers or "likes" unless they have friends who have a genuine interest in learning about our business.
I will learn the difference between a personal page and a business page, between a friend and a like, a follower and a member of my circle.
I will focus on one or two social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and learn to use them effectively before branching out to other media. I will not be beholden to every Flavor of the Month or ditch or dis Facebook every time I read something negative about it.
I will remember that in Social Media, Content is King. That content must be useful, relevant, engaging and accurate. It must drive customers to my web site, telephone number or place of business. I will remember that I am ultimately responsible for creating this content and defining my marketing message. There's no app for that.
One more very important point: Trip Advisor is a form of Social Media and one of the most significant. It is a key point of communication between hotelier and guest and you ignore it at your peril…
About the author
Anne Sweeney is president of Anne Sweeney Public Relations in South Brunswick, New Jersey. She can be reached at 732-329-6629 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Unsurprisingly, she has a facebook page and can also be followed on twitter.