Cendyn's™ Best Practices and Recommendations for Hotels to Effectively Engage with Their Guests via Social Media
Hotel Marketing Leader Explains How to Maximize Brand Presence on Social Networks
As do all hotels in today's world, you need to be represented in the social media space. The question is: Do you know the right way to go about integrating social media into your overall marketing strategies? It's essential that you put together the right mix of elements to allow you to effectively interact with your target audience.
1. Find your customers and do your research
Know where your target audiences engage (tip: add a line on your survey asking guests to identify which networks they frequently use), how they engage and what motivates them to do so. Invest where you are hitting the largest concentrations of your target audience. Choose only the networks that you feel best fit your marketing goals and positioning statement, but also that you can properly maintain. Ensure that all networks connect and funnel into one another as well as your website – building strong bonds across networks creates a more cohesive voice and a stronger brand identity.
2. Develop content that adds value
For your profile, create a social media space that represents your property. Add the manager's name(s) who will be posting on the network, leverage brand elements such as color and style for a consistent look and feel across social platforms and your websites, place a distinctive background image of your property and include your property logo.
For posts, be authentic and professional. People connect with people, not brands. The three best practices for composing content for hotel social networks are: inform your audience about what's happening at your property, reward them by promoting upfront incentives (track the results) and tell your story with pictures and video (200% higher engagement on photo content).
3. Monitor and optimize your strategy
Persistent monitoring is crucial for measuring the success of your social media marketing. On a daily basis, log on to your Facebook, Twitter and TripAdvisor accounts or a third party reputation management portal. Promptly respond to mentions and posts. On TripAdvisor and other third party review sites, write a response to ALL reviews, whether they are favorable or unfavorable. Optimize your content and strategy based on what you find until you get the results you're looking for.
4. Integrate social media into your marketing plan
To create a unified voice, your message needs to be consistent across all marketing channels, and these channels must tie together. Encourage on-property guests to join your social networks: put a sign at the front desk, train your staff to mention your social media channels to guests and share online contests and incentives. Add icons/links to all marketing material including your website, print and email campaigns, email signatures and folios.
Cendyn recommends the following platforms as the top social networks hotels should consider:
- TripAdvisor: As the world's largest travel site, monitoring and responding to TripAdvisor reviews is a must for hotel reputation management. Users give honest feedback about your hotel and expect a genuine response from hotel management. Your response shows other users on the site how proactive you are, that you pay attention and care what your guests think. Keep in mind, TripAdvisor is the most popular hotel review site, but not the only one. With the integration of Yelp listings with iPhone search results through Siri, Yelp is becoming a bigger contender in the review site world. Tip: If your property is already listed on the site, but you're unable to send responses publicly or contact past guests directly, create a log-in within the owner's section.
- Facebook: The largest and most popular social network, all online activity from your property should at some point funnel through Facebook. Use it to engage with the bulk of your online fan base, host promotions, generate leads and manage your reputation. Facebook's social graph is now integrated into Microsoft's Bing search engine and Facebook users are influencing search results across Bing. Tip: Create customized Facebook apps including a reservation widget and a welcome page inviting users to visit your website.
- Twitter: This micro-blogging site effectively and quickly gets messages across, and is a great tool for customer service, extended concierge service and reputation management. It's also a good resource for finding potential new customers and informing them about your venue. "Tweeple" (micro-bloggers) are mainly interested in the latest news, products, services and promotions. Tip: Add your company web address and contact information when creating an account, so customers can easily access more in-depth information about your property.
- YouTube: The world's largest video sharing website (also one of the world's largest search engines), YouTube is a powerful tool for hotels since it can help potential guests visualize their stay before they book. Creating a custom channel on YouTube provides you with a central location for all of your video content that can then be widely distributed by embedding your videos on your websites and social networks. Tip: YouTube videos should be tagged and optimized for search engines, increasing your visibility and improving your overall SEO performance.
- Foursquare: The king of location-based social networks, Foursquare is great for hotels to increase visibility by giving users incentives for checking in. Tip: Stand out by hosting a special giveaway, such as offering a free appetizer at your restaurant(s) for those who check in to your venue on Foursquare.
- Pinterest: The popular photo-sharing site Pinterest is a great place to showcase the lifestyle and culture of your property, as well as company culture and brand. Tip: Curate your Pinterest boards on the amenities, services and activities a guest would most likely experience while staying at your hotel.
- Instagram: This mobile photo-sharing app, recently acquired by Facebook, allows you to create beautiful, visually appealing photos and share them across a number of different social networks instantaneously. Instagram allows you to find friends based on your contact list, Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Tip: Start building your network by connecting with Twitter and Facebook friends in your hotel's Twitter feed and Facebook profile.
- LinkedIn: This social network for professionals is a great way to generate sales leads and potential group business. It can also be an effective means of recruiting talent. Tip: Leverage LinkedIn's company pages to showcase services and amenities of your property, especially corporate and group meetings.
- Google+: Users, mainly early adopters and tech enthusiasts, select brands they want to be part of their "circles" and seek informational posts. Google+'s face-to-face interaction tools, including Hangouts, make it a great forum for responding to inquiries about your property. Google+ is slowly being integrated into all of Google's products. A most recent example is the introduction of Google+ Local, which is designed to replace Google Places by integrating all local listings within a single platform. Linking your Google+ page to your website and vice versa, allows you to build better relationships with your followers and provides Google with information that is used to determine the relevancy of your site to a search query in Google Search. Tip: The new Google+ Local will soon merge into your normal Google+ brand pages. Stay ahead of the curve by exploring Google+ and its functionality so you are prepared for the change.
- Klout: Klout measures the reach of your social media influence across multiple networks, and how much that influence causes others to take action. Every time a user creates content or engages, he/she influences others. Using data from social networks in order to measure the reach and frequency of your social interactions, Klout assigns an influence score on a scale of 1 to 100. Tip: Use Klout to easily determine and reward your quests with high influence scores, leveraging their influence for your property/brand.
If you need help with your social media strategy, Cendyn provides ongoing social media consultation and management including the following services:
- Social media strategy and integration with overall digital marketing plan
- Online reputation management and monitoring
- Facebook and Twitter page branding, customization and promotions
- Property staff training on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn best practices
- YouTube Channel management and video upload
- Property blog and RSS feed setup
- Press release optimization and online distribution
- Ongoing consultancy, keeping you up to date on what's new in social media and assisting you in its application and continued effectiveness
- Social Influence Marketing Campaigns
For more information, call Cendyn at 866-625-4518 or visit http://www.cendyn.com/social-media-marketing.
Cendyn is a cloud-based software and services provider that develops integrated technology platforms for driving sales and marketing performance in the travel and hospitality industry. The Cendyn Hospitality Cloud offers the most complete set of innovative software and services in the industry, covering hotel marketing, guest engagement, group sales, and event management. With offices in Boca Raton, Atlanta, Boston, San Diego, Toronto, Whistler, London and Singapore, Cendyn proudly serves more than 30,000 clients in 143 countries with enterprise spend levels in excess of $1 billion. For more information on Cendyn, visit www.cendyn.com.