By Leslie Wilkins, Pipeline Social Media
A social media presence is essential in the field of hospitality, as we now face a world run largely by digital content. How, then, can you successfully integrate social media with your hotel’s marketing campaign? Is it worth the effort? Below are a few practices that will bring you more visibility and ultimately give your hotel competitive superiority.
1. Verify Your Facebook Page
Do you see a grey check mark beside the name of your hotel on your Facebook business page? If you don’t, you might have a duplicate page in the world of Facebook with unanswered reviews. Let me explain — when a guest comes to your hotel and “Checks In” on Facebook, they have the option to create a Facebook page for you if you don’t have a verified, official page. Yikes! We see it every day and many hoteliers are entirely unaware that they have multiple, misrepresenting Facebook pages out there. This can cause confusion for both current and potential customers. You can verify and protect your Facebook page by following these steps within the Admin Panel of your Facebook page: Go to Settings>>General>>Page Verification. From there, you can verify by phone with an automated code or you can submit a utility bill saying you represent the business; if you have an automated answering line for your phones, I encourage you to use the utility bill option. Verifying your Facebook page will encourage engagement, assert credibility, and ensure that your page is seen. Customers value authenticity, so Facebook verification is just another step towards creating brand loyalty and ensuring your hotel’s growth!
2. Drive Constant Traffic With a Clicks to Website Ad
Clicks to Website Ads are essential for modern hotelier marketing strategies, as they drive constant, consistent traffic to specific brand pages or independent websites. You can set a Clicks to Website Ad to spend as little as $1.00 per day. It will show up in the news feed of your target market and take them from Facebook to your website. For example, if you were promoting a Romance Package at your hotel, you can target the following: people who live in your feeder markets, are in relationships or married, are in your target age range, and people who enjoy romance, weekend getaways, champagne, or other appealing features of your package. By allowing you to add specificity to your targeting strategy, Clicks to Website Ads help you centralize your audience based off of your current promotional endeavors. A healthy Clicks to Website Ad will cost less than $0.50 per click — a worthwhile investment to increase visibility on your push of the month! One of my favorite things about a Clicks to Website Ad is that it can be running continuously and not affect the posts on your page. For example, the Clicks to Website Ad gives you the freedom to post about the Romance Package on your actual Facebook page without feeling as though every post during this promotional period has to concern the package. It should be noted that you can create Clicks to Website Ads for Instagram through Facebook Ads Manager because they were purchased back in 2012.
3. Reply Back to Negative and Positive Reviews
Do you respond to reviews on Facebook and Google? You probably respond to TripAdvisor reviews, but are you missing these other two important channels? Replying to every review may sound daunting, but with this foolproof protocol, you can remain professional, amicable, and attentive while still maintaining efficiency and productivity. Take this three step etiquette approach when responding to reviews:
- Apologize for not meeting your guest’s expectations.
- Address their concerns.
- If their concern is warranted: Apologize that they did not experience your hotel at its finest and let them know action will be taken to fix the issue.
- If they misunderstood a policy: Explain the situation – i.e. “Unfortunately we have to have a non refundable Pet Fee to cover additional cleaning and maintenance.”
- Ask for their contact information to contact them privately (the last thing you want is a back and forth battle on your review feed!).
- Thank them for their feedback.
These steps give you a template to work from, a template that can be tweaked depending on each customer’s situation. Once you have a response system in place, it will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and neglecting this important action.
4. Boost One Post a Week to Facebook and Instagram
Have you ever boosted a post to your Facebook or Instagram page? This technique helps your post get more visibility to a targeted group of people. I’m not talking about clicking the “Boost Now” blue button that Facebook tricks people into using so they will spend more ad dollars; I’m talking about building the ad set inside Facebook Ads Manager. Inside the Ads Manager, you can select more detailed targeting and build lookalike audiences to grow your target market. You can boost a post for just a few dollars and have it run all day or several days. You can target people by gender, age, city, job title, school affiliations, employer, interests, and more. For Boosted Posts, a healthy cost per engagement is $0.30, which includes likes, comments, and shares; for popular post topics, we have seen engagement in the pennies. Hoteliers can spend $10-$25 per week and boost their important posts to their target market within the specific topic of that post. For example, if you were promoting an upcoming local Coldplay concert and a special rate for concert accommodations, you can target people by feeder markets, age, and interests in Coldplay, among other things. Other than social media, where can you spend $40-$100 per month and get targeted eyes on your message? Boosted posts offer unparalleled advertisement by increasing engagement rate, expanding your audience, and precisely targeting your customers.
5. Post Regularly
We see it every day with our clients — they post regularly at the beginning of their social media efforts, but then quickly fall off of the map once they hit their busy season. I believe it’s easier to post regularly when you are aware of your previous and future social strategies. Get where I’m going here? You need a Content Calendar to track previous post topics and future post topics. Promote and experiment with simple post topics such as positive guest reviews from TripAdvisor or Facebook, local upcoming events, insider secrets to dining and attractions, information about your amenities, and staff highlights. The best thing about getting organized in a calendar format is being able to work backwards as you prepare for special upcoming events. Let’s say your hotel is hosting a wedding trade show and you need to make sure you promote it well to the public. Look at your Content Calendar and determine how often you need to post about the event in order to market the event effectively. Once your posts topics are laid out in a strategic format, crafting the posts doesn’t seem quite as scary anymore, does it? It’s important to put social media management into the hands of an employee or agency that has the time to manage it, no matter what is happening at the hotel. Whatever your method, just ensure that future guests will visit your page and see consistent posts about your staff, exciting experiences, and all the fun they will have when choosing to stay at our hotel!
Once you become familiar with the various platforms and their advertising tools, you will quickly begin to see the value of investing more in your social media presence. Your guests will become even more loyal to your brand, your network of communication will expand, and your personalization will welcome new opportunities. Social media marketing is no longer a choice; it’s a requirement to survive and thrive in the hospitality industry. Keep these practices in mind as you strengthen and develop your social media plan.