As the calendar turns from 2013 to 2014, many companies have new goals and strategies ready to be implemented. The evolving world of social media is no different. However, the ultimate goal of those strategies remains the same: to increase brand awareness, to enhance guest satisfaction and to drive revenue.
To help hoteliers reach these goals, Daniel Edward Craig, founder of the online reputation management firm Reknown, and his panel shared a list of social media strategies to adopt in 2014.
1. Identify and Target Social Media Personas
Historically, hotel marketers have been quick to segment guests into familiar buckets that commonly included group, transient and business. However, these groupings are simply too broad to reach with a targeted, captivating message via social media according to RockCheetah’s CEO Robert Cole.
The who, what, when, where and how still matter, but the real question to delve into is why. Why are travelers visiting a certain destination under certain parameters? Why should they choose to stay with you?
To find those answers, it helps to create personas that represent a subset of travelers, giving each persona a name and detailed characteristics or traits. Things to consider include age, income levels, interests and where your personas live. With all of this specificity, marketers are able to tailor communications that are more likely to drive engagement with a specific cohort.
Although this example may represent a deviation from the high-volume aspirations of most hotel marketers, there is one thing to keep in mind: You can’t be all things to all people on social media.
2. Integrate Paid, Owned and Earned Content
Paid content, including display ads, cost-per-click campaigns and online travel agency listings give marketers a high degree of control. However, it typically has a low influence on traveler booking choices.
Owned content, such as a brand website, Facebook page or Twitter feed allows you to connect with a wide range of potentials customers, but still packs a rather feeble punch.
The third and most influential content is earned content such as user-generated reviews, views, media coverage and blogs. Although traditional marketing has focused around owned and paid content, there needs to be a shift towards developing strategies around earned content.
To garner exceptional earned content, hoteliers must provide exceptional guest experiences. Another way to encourage feedback is throwing out small pieces of content designed for engagement with guests and can be shared easily across multiple channels.
3. Make Reviews the Priority
Reviews, both good and bad, can be used as a tool to improve the guest experience for all of your future customers. Imagine the type of reviews you want to have and become the hotel that inspires those reviews.
Positive reviews can act as a free advertisement for your property and encourage additional travelers to stay in the future. If guests have negative feedback, changes should be made to remedy this issue immediately so that the same reviews are not recurring.
4. Get Social with Google
Google’s algorithm is currently placing an increasing emphasis on user-generated content, including reviews. With the development of Google+ and Google Places, the company now has its own social media brand they can use in the search engine’s organic search results. For example, if you want your hotel to feature more prominently, marketers should focus on capturing at least five reviews through Google+
Keep in mind that you can’t simply create a Google+ account and be done with it. Like Twitter and Facebook, Google’s platform requires a constant stream of fresh content that will continue to drive traffic to your site.
5. Optimize Facebook for Graph Search
A number of recent changes have turned Facebook into a very important marketing tool for hoteliers. Graph Search, one of the newer developments in the social network, is like a search engine within a user’s friend network. For example, a user can use Graph Search to look for friends who have “liked” resorts in Cancun.
How do you get your properties showcased higher on these results pages? The more guests who visit a hotel’s Facebook page, leave comments, take photos or just mention that page elsewhere, the more likely it will show up on Graph Search.
To see the rest of this list, click here.