10 foolproof social media tips for independent hotels

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We’ve blogged recently about online leisure traveler trends and digital marketing strategies, both of which highlight the relevance of social media in hospitality marketing. Social media has become an invaluable digital marketing tool and is a great way to manage your customer relationships.

There are so many options when it comes to choosing a social media platform, but your business really should have an account with at least one. Why? Because most of your customers are on social media, and because social media empowers you to engage with your customers in a way traditional marketing never could.

As you post updates, “tweet,” upload videos and photos, and engage in conversations with customers in real time on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, your search engine rankings rise, which in turn increases exposure for your property’s own website and the more reservations you generate. Social media can be a very effective online marketing tactic that — while it does take time — can actually cut your marketing costs.

Choosing where to jump in can be a bit daunting, but Facebook is a good place to start. Twitter, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest are other channels popularly used by the hospitality industry to reach out to customers.

Here are 10 foolproof social media tips to get you started:

  1. Quality content. Post fresh, well-written content that your customers will want to see. Don’t just write about your property; travelers love travel tips and information about the local area, fun activities, events etc. It doesn’t always have to be about business… show your sense of humour! And, very importantly, don’t annoy followers with rampant tweets and posts.
  2. Respond quickly. Social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are great platforms for connecting with customers who have questions, comments and feedback about your property. Be sure to address complaints, questions and compliments quickly. Interaction improves customer loyalty.
  3. Ask questions. Asking questions is a great way to encourage customers to interact with you. Post questions like, “What do you think of our new breakfast buffet?” Or perhaps post a picture of a cocktail from your bar and ask fans what their favourite is.
  4. Photos and videos. A picture speaks a thousand words and a video even more. Photos and videos are an effective way to grab attention and are more likely to be shared, increasing engagement and reach. Photos and videos don’t just have to be about your property; interesting and/or amusing videos and photos about the local area are always a hit with travelers.
  5. Calls to action. Calls to action generate activity! Ask your fans to share or comment on your post.
  6. Offer promotions & reward loyalty. Don’t bombard fans and followers with hard selling, but do offer regular promotions—many people follow businesses on social networks for special deals, so don’t disappoint them. You could offer a free night for the best guest photo of the month or reward Facebook fans and Twitter followers with a special rate or discount. There’s a lot to be said for incentive!
  7. Develop relationships with other local businesses. Like and follow other businesses in your area such as tour companies and popular local eateries. Work with other businesses to promote each other on social media networks.
  8. Reach out. When you proactively reach out to customers, you make them feel valued. Invite guests to post reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor and other review sites. (Make sure to respond to reviews on these sites, too). Invite guests to post photos of their stay.
  9. Share across platforms. Direct your fans from Facebook to Pinterest, Pinterest to your blog, etc.
  10. Measure ROI. The most important measure of success of your social media efforts is the amount of customer interaction generated. You can use tools like Hootsuite and Facebook Insights to track shares, comments, likes and tweets.  Google Analytics is a free tool for tracking Web traffic to your hotel’s website… how much is coming from your social media accounts?

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