News for the Hospitality Executive
ATLANTA – March5, 2012 – At the recent Facebook Marketers Conference (fMC), the social media world received epic news from Facebook about how business fan pages, like personal pages, will integrate the new Timeline functionality. While hearing about the drastic changes to Facebook, I realized how these changes may set an extra hurdle in the way of a hotel’s efforts to manage social media on their own. After working with the new changes first hand, I am certain that these changes will reshape how hotels market in the social ecosystem for the better. The Facebook changes are certain to boost a hotel’s ability to market directly to the consumer through rich media, content positioning, strong advertising, and even a direct customer service portal.
All Facebook business pages will automatically be transferred over to the Timeline design on March 30, 2012, whether you are prepared or not. In order to market on Facebook effectively, there are 10 changes you must prepare for right away.
1. Express more with large cover images
Default Facebook landing pages are gone, and the helpful “like gate” that hides your page’s content until the user “likes” you page is no longer offered as well. All users will automatically land on your new Timeline page, which boasts incredible, top-end, digital real estate to visually impact your users. While you cannot use this large cover image as a billboard for your web address, phone number, or calls to action, you can incorporate emotional imagery that expresses why someone should stay at your hotel.
2. Extreme Makeover:Apps Edition
Apps used to live along the left side of your Facebook page with small 16x16 pixel icons and limited availability for rich text. Now, the Timeline design gives apps a proper stage and new look to go along with it. With icons now sized at 111x74 pixels and an 810 pixel wide playground for your application’s user experience, the sky is the limit with what you can create, the promotions you can run, and the stories you can tell.
3. Apps area can be manipulated to maximize clicks
While businesses cannot use a call to action on their large cover images, you can use a call to action on three other areas: the smaller profile picture set to the left of your cover image, album cover of your photos, and icon photo of your apps. While you can have multiple apps on your page, only three will show up without clicking the expander on the far right of the app area. You can set which top three apps you want to show by hovering over the top right of each app until a drop-down pencil icon appears. The drop-down pencil icon will allow you to rearrange the order of your apps and edit the image that appears. If you include only one image in the very first album in the sequence, you can control the image that shows up as the photos icon in the app area.
4. Receive direct messages from your fans
Finally, Facebook has given business pages the ability to receive direct messages from their fans just we have seen personal accounts send and receive direct messages. With the direct messaging capability, Facebook can truly be a place where hotels provide timely, private customer service. As another bonus, admins can worry less about negative feedback affecting their entire Facebook community if they make direct messages an open and encouraged option for submitting feedback. In the case that you do receive a negative response, you can reply with a direct message apologizing for their bad experience.
5. Stay organized with the new Admin Panel
Facebook has streamlined its notifications system, direct messages, and Insights into one easy-to-use Admin Panel at the top of your Timeline page. Facebook admins are the only ones who can view the Admin Panel and this addition will help admins sort through fan interaction efficiently.
6. Assign multiple levels of administrative control
While all five levels of the new protective controls have not yet been identified, Facebook will allow pages to have multiple admins with varying levels of control. For hotels that receive a lot of interaction, this could be the answer you have been looking for when you are forced to delegate certain tasks to different staff members.
7. Fans can subscribe to a RSS feed for your stream
As the blogosphere continues to develop, you can now move your Facebook stream into services like FeedBurner and capitalize on the natural traffic that these services provide.
8. Open fan access to a portion of your Insights
While I am not sure I love this change as much as the others, giving open access to a portion of Insights gives you the ability to check on your competition. You will be able to see what your competition is doing, who they are targeting, what is working for them, and adjust your campaign accordingly.
9. Ability to pin stories to the top of your page
You can now make specificFacebook posts stay at the top of your Timeline page. I believe this will be the most impactful change of the Timeline line changes; hotels can now run revolving seven-day promotions by pinning rich images and good content to the top of the page. Now you can be sure that your Facebook fans know about a special promotion or event.
10. Creation of two new advertising services
Marketplace ads still exist for lower budget advertisers. For those businesses with a few more marketing dollars to spend, Facebook introduces two new advertising services: Reach Generator and Premium.
Reach Generator creates custom ad campaigns that work to increase on page traffic of your current fans. The premise is that the business uses their Timeline Facebook page as their “mission control” by focusing on producing quality content with images, polls, status updates, and the like. Then, Facebook’s marketing team pushes these stories into the places that current fans spend the majority of their time, i.e., their news feed and personal profile pages. The total spend requirements have not been released yet for businesses interested in Reach Generator.
The second type of new advertising on Facebook is called Premium. Premium advertising on Facebook eliminates the smaller business player as it requires a minimum of $10,000 per month in total spend requirements. Unlike Reach Generator that boosts the activity of current fans, Premium drives all types of traffic to your page. From a list of options, a hotel can decide what type of campaign they want Facebook to administer like one focused on general fan building or one focused on advertising a special event. Facebook positions these Premium ads on news feeds, on personal pages, on Facebook mobile (tablet and smartphone), and eventually on the exit screen when users log out.
My ConclusionFor some hotel owners and staff members, these 10 Facebook changes have come as a surprise. To truly capitalize on the power of Facebook, you must understand these new changes and how they can increase public awareness of your business and subsequently sell hotel rooms for you. As the Executive Director of Pipeline Social Media Solutions, I want to help you integrate the Timeline changes as well as look at your overall social media strategy. Contact Pipeline Social Media Solutions at (678) 814-4601 for more information.
About Pipeline Social Media Solutions, LLC
Pipeline Social Media Solutions is a results-driven, social media marketing company founded around 20+ years of experience in the hospitality industry and 10+ years in online marketing. Pipeline believes in the power of social media marketing for hotels and the ability for this new interaction to transform the hospitality industry.
Pipeline / Pipeline Social Media Solutions, LLC
Office: (678) 814-4601
Fax: (678) 814-4607
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