The 5 W’s of Social Media Marketing

What is social media marketing?

A way to market your business using online networking sites to engage, promote, brand and gain relevance with an increasingly online consumer base.

Who uses it?

Consumers have headed up the social media trend thus far. Sites like Facebook and MySpace were originally made for individuals – not companies. But basic marketing reveals that to stay ahead, you have to predict your consumers’ next moves. Companies have not only followed suit, they’ve created a whole new way to market their businesses. And it’s about time considering that social networking sites are growing at unbelievable rates. According to comScore, the number of visitors to Twitter.com jumped 131% from February to March of 2009 – more than 5 million visitors! It’s time for the hospitality industry to jump to the head of the pack.

Whether you’re a marketing exec, a resort employee or just an avid traveler, there is a social media outlet for you. Blogs, photo and video uploads are just the beginning of the opportunities available for reaching your consumers. The best part? People are more likely to trust the recommendations of fellow travel consumers. And since you are the expert at your property, why not get out there and share your influence with the world?

So who uses social media marketing? We should be asking who doesn’t!

Remember to follow ResortsandLodges.com on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, and subscribe to the ResortsandLodges channel on YouTube!

Where do I start?

The same thing that can be frustrating about Social Media Marketing can also be a ray of light when you’re a beginner – you always start from scratch. Creating an account on a social media network is the easy part, but gaining loyalty from followers is a whole different animal. That’s why we recommend a little research and trial and error as the best policies for your sojourn into social networking!

In your attempt to gain followers, context is king. Be certain that your account description directly relates to the industry you’re promoting so your page shows up on relevant topic searches. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to be virtually-friendly! Use social media sites to connect with people interested in your industry…you’ll be surprised at the huge numbers of people you’ll find to relate to. It’s even a good idea to connect with other resort or hotel properties – you can check out the competition and get insights into how to stay ahead at the same time! The point is you need to engage with the communities on social networking sites – people like having real conversations with actual people – so it’s important to relate and communicate with your audience as a person and not a corporate being.

Why Should I Invest Time in Social Networking?

We could go on and on about the benefits of social networking in your marketing strategy, but we think the numbers speak for themselves.

According to a study from the ANA (Association of National Advertisers):

  • 66% of marketers utilized some type of social media in 2009 thus far
  • Almost 50% of marketers shifted traditional marketing and promotional strategies to fund social media endeavors
  • The top social networking sites used by marketers were:
    • 74% Facebook
    • 65% YouTube
    • 63% Twitter
    • 60% LinkedIn
  • In the next year, the social media formats projected to grow are:
    • 34% Blogs
    • 28% Mobile
    • 23% Social Media
    • And Viral Video and Podcasts

Also, to keep things simple: check out  Ping.fm or Hoot Suite both free services that allow you to update all of your social networks at once!

When Should I Start Marketing on Social Networks?

If you haven’t been paying attention so far, this marketing media has shown exponential growth and will continue to grow over the next year.  There’s only one thing left to stress about social media marketing: The time to start is NOW!

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