What do consumers want out of hotel social marketing?
According to a survey by USA Today, the No. 1 choice for consumers contacting hotels via social networks is to find local info. Users are looking for recommendations on things to do, restaurants and bars in the destination, and a concierge that is able to reply to requests on social networks is seen as a way to enhance the consumer’s experience. The survey points the direction of what hotel social marketing should be about.
This survey got me thinking about certain digital marketing best practices that hotels should adhere to when engaging consumers on social networks. This article points out five simple tips for hoteliers that want to infuse their social presence with an “engagement” shot by turning their social presence into a social concierge.
Tip 1- Use your staff to describe what’s happening in your neighborhood
No one better than your staff knows what’s happening in your neighborhood. Whether it’s the trendy restaurant, or the cool new bar for singles, your Facebook page and twitter stream will come alive as you discuss what’s happening. Other locals may flock to your posts and enhance them with valuable information. This local, hard-to-get information is what hotel social marketing should be about, as this is what users are looking for.
Tip 2- Use photos and videos as they have higher likelihood to be shared
As a hotel manager you should not only develop a photo and video library of your property, but also of the neighborhood you are in.
Go on a field trip and take pictures and shoot video of interesting places and events in your town. Then use them to describe what is going on. A study by Facebook content strategy tool Zuum found out that rich media is shared almost 2x more than other media. Doug Schumacher’s, Zuums’s founder, says: “Sometimes even a simple image just needs the right introductory headline to get people liking, commenting, and especially sharing.”
Tip 3- Curate content and ask for feedback
The good news about social networks is that much content is just reused. Pinterest is a good example of that, where people just “re-pin” content that they see on the web. Use the same technique to improve your hotel social marketing presence. If you see an interesting article in your local newspaper, post it on Facebook and twitter. Sports fans are always a good crowd to engage, so leverage content from your local teams. This will get a conversation going. Finally, try to stick to local information that a concierge typically would recommend to a guest.
Tip 4- Provide real services like theater tickets and restaurant reservations
The same USA Today survey clearly demonstrated that social users are not necessarily task oriented, and that they don’t give any value to mundane things like weather or traffic updates. Social guests want to learn what’s going on, and if they see something that interests them they want to be able to act on it, immediately.
As part of your social concierge strategy you should define which services you are willing to provide over the social network, and which ones you want to do offline. Start by defining a few services that you want to do in the open: restaurant reservations, ordering tickets. This approach will not only provide great service, but more importantly it will educate other users that you are concerned about servicing your guests in whichever channel they wish to engage with you.
Tip 5- Engage opinion leaders that rave about your hotel
The last four tips were on turning your social presence into a social concierge. One additional way to get things going on your hotel social marketing strategy is to publicize and to ask for feedback on comments from opinion leaders. Look for people with significant amount of followers, and look for those that seem to be respected within the community. You can take reviews from tripadvisor, repost them on your Facebook timeline and ask for feedback – “do you agree?” or “what should we have done differently?”. Embrace the community and the community will give you their feedback. Honesty and transparency go a long way in social networks.
In summary, hotel social marketing is about getting conversations going and delivering real value to your users. Use pictures and video to get conversations going, and provide concierge services to your users. This way you will not only grow your fan base – more importantly, you will create a community that will rally around your property.