Don’t Waste Your Tweets: Make Social Media Work for You

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October 01, 2014
Marketing
Hayley Calhoon - hayleycalhoon@gmail.com

It’s no secret that social media has evolved into an invaluable tool for hospitality brands. Hotels, restaurants and attractions have invested time and resources into this potentially low-cost marketing tool for a long time. However, just being present on social media channels won’t help your brand reach its objectives or stand out from the competition.

In order to make social media work for you, you have to work for it. The goal of social media is not to occasionally broadcast to the masses, but rather to build an online community that generates leads and awareness, which eventually convert into revenue. Follow these guidelines to more effectively make your social media efforts work for your brand.

Choose Wisely
Your social media efforts should reflect your industry, resources and goals. Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn all have their own purposes and strengths. For example, Facebook may be a good starting point to appeal to a general audience, while Instagram would be a priority for a hotel specifically targeting a young demographic. If your goal is to reap the most SEO benefits, Google+ would be a big contender. Understanding the differences in each social platform and deciding which ones make the most sense for your brand will provide the most effective return on your time investment.

Decide how much time you’ll be able to devote to implementing your social media strategy. If time is limited, choose only one or two platforms and focus on doing them well. Don’t overextend your brand.

Post Smarter
The lifespan of a tweet can be as short as 10 minutes. Nearly all social media posts follow the law of diminishing returns, they reach their maximum potential for engagement and impressions soon after being posted and become increasingly irrelevant with every passing moment.  In order to increase this lifespan and make your content more impactful, post at optimal times when users are on social media sites. For instance, your customers are more likely to be scrolling through their Facebook news feed in the afternoon when the work day is wrapping up than early in the morning. This will increase your chances of engagement on the posts, which leads to more longevity and maximum exposure.

Be Consistent
Thanks to smartphones and tablets, people have constant access to their social media channels. Your brand should do the same. Creating a Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter profile that only gets occasional attention from your hospitality brand is not only a waste of time, it creates an avenue for users to post comments and questions that publicly go ignored. Once you decide which social media platforms to focus on, be sure to set aside consistent time to engage with users.

Offer Value
In the social media world, content is king. Give users a reason to follow you by offering them relevant, valuable content through your social media channels – not just advertisements. Social media feeds are flooding with sales pitches, and you don’t want your brand posts to be written off as spam in the minds of consumers. People are attracted to educational, inspiring and impactful posts that offer them value. Think about your customers and the topics they would be interested in to create a content mix that works for your brand. For a leisure hotel, for instance, this might include information about the local area, travel tips, as well as attractive photos of your property. Use high quality content to attract and engage with customers so that you can lead them down the sales funnel.  A good starting point for your content mix is 80 percent non-promotional content and 20 percent promotional posts.

Surprise and Delight
In the hospitality industry, we rely on customer service for success and constantly aim to provide unique and memorable experiences to guests. This shouldn’t be any different on social media. Proactively watch for opportunities to deliver something special to guests who are engaging with your brand. Guests may let it slip in a tweet that they are visiting your hotel to celebrate a birthday or that they are hoping for a room on a high floor. Surprise them with a handwritten note or a complimentary upgrade upon arrival. It doesn’t have to break the bank to have an impact. A single effort to go above and beyond for a guest could be shared with all of their friends and followers, exponentially amplifying your brand’s online reach.

Hayley Calhoon is a social media specialist with experience managing multiple hotel brands and a multi-unit restaurant chain. She can be reached at: hayleycalhoon@gmail.com.

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