By now, you have likely heard about three specific types of media, all of which are integral to the success of your hotel's online marketing strategy. Paid, owned, and earned media, all while falling under the same general umbrella, vary in many ways. The following should give you a quick refresher of each type of media:
Paid media: Purchased content such as pay-per-click or display ads.
Owned media: Content you control such as your hotel's website, blog, social media profiles, and listings on third-party sites such as TripAdvisor.
Earned media: User-generated content spread generally through review sites, social media, blogs, photos, videos, etc.
As stated, using these types of media can help you achieve your hotel's online marketing goals, specifically when it comes to improving your search ranking, which can in turn affect direct bookings. Especially in a day when Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are spending more in marketing than ever before, it is important to pursue paid, owned, and earned media for your hotel in order to improve your organic search rankings.
Earned content is perhaps the most difficult to garner, yet the most valuable type of media. Studies have shown that consumers trust the opinions of other consumers more than any other advertising source, thus placing even more importance on user-generated content. In many cases, earned media is low-budget, making it a cost effective way to market your hotel.
But what really is user-generated content, and how can you go about increasing this content generated online by your guests, fans, followers, and brand ambassadors? It can be tricky to motivate people about your hotel, but it can be done! The following insight looks more at earned media, and provides tips on how to actually generate content from users:
Your hotel needs as many reviews as possible. Not only on review giant, TripAdvisor, but also on OTAs such as Expedia, as well as Google+ Local, which are often neglected. Google takes reviews and ratings posted on Google+ Local and factors them into the algorithm that decides what hotels show up on the Google Carousel. This means a strong Google+ presence is more important than ever! Encourage reviews by utilizing TripAdvisor's widgets - add a space to write a review for your hotel directly on your website, or upload a tab to your Facebook page where users can do the same. Post on your social media channels asking for a quick review, however, keep in mind the 80/20 rule of self-promotion! Ask guests at check-out for a review, and send a follow-up email including a link to your Google+ Local page. Many guests are happy to write a review, they just need a little nudge or a reminder. Make the process as easy as possible for them. As long as you are not too invasive with your marketing, you may find the results for increasing your number of reviews better than expected!
Creating buzz around your hotel or brand in the blogosphere is one of the most powerful types of earned media. Many blogs, especially travel-themed blogs, have large communities and followings, and the level of trust among the blogger or bloggers and the community can be high. Securing blog posts about your hotel can happen on a low to no budget (depending on the blog or blogger), which makes blogger outreach an important element of your hotel's marketing plan. This process can be time consuming but can pay off if done correctly. If you have a unique special offer running at your property or a big event happening soon, reach out to relevant bloggers and inform them of your hotel's story. You never know who already might be a fan of your hotel, so put your feelers out for potential brand ambassadors! There are ample tools in existence that allow you to see who is talking about your property in the digital space, and utilizing these can give you a head start.
Social media has truly empowered user-generated content. While many fans or followers will share content with your hotel on their own, there are ways to encourage them even more. Hosting contests or giving small incentives to post a review or photo can work wonders - however, remember to simply ask for a review and not specify that it should be a positive one. Again, people trust their friends' and families' words and recommendations more than traditional advertising, so take advantage of this by encouraging conversation about your brand through as many mediums as possible. Stay aware of any new and emerging social media trends and stand out by being one of the first in the hospitality industry to garner a community.
Again, the most effective online marketing strategy for your hotel incorporates paid, owned, and earned media. Gaining the latter can mean putting in some time, but it will pay off when your hotel appears high organically on search results due to a positive comment or engaging photo posted on your Facebook page from a loyal guest!
Abour the Author
Renee Radia is the Digital Media Manager at E-Marketing Associates, where she manages the social media program and blogs regularly for the E-Marketing Associates Blog. E-Marketing Associates works exclusively with independent hotels and builds innovative online marketing products that increase direct bookings and drive top-line revenue.