Hotel 101

How social media can help your hotel thrive

August, 2016

Social media is transforming the way that hotels communicate with guests, potential customers and the world. Often based on a mobile-phone app, social media is fast and personal, letting you gather honest customer feedback, so you can spot and fix problems early. It allows you to stay in touch with your guests, ensuring you stay on their short-list for future trips. But most importantly, it can generate leads and boost sales, when happy guests share their experiences of your hotel with trusted friends and family. So, which social media sites should you focus on? Should you maintain your social media presence alone, or commission a specialist service like Flip.to for support? Let’s look at four of the most popular social media sites that are particularly interesting for hotel operators.

Facebook: Rich Media, Compelling Stories

With a reported 1.65 billion monthly active users (March 2016), Facebook has become the most important social media site for hotels. It combines text, photos and videos, and can be accessed both on a website and with a mobile-phone app. The keys to success on Facebook are simple: Post inspiring updates with striking photographs and engaging text that encourages comments or sharing. Responding to messages and comments in a timely manner will also boost engagement. Importantly, you should let your guests’ Facebook accounts promote your hotel for you: Ask current guests to follow you on Facebook, with a thank-you gift such as a free drink at your bar, or free wi-fi, as an incentive. Encourage guests to share their holiday photos and hotel stories. You instantly benefit from their trusted word-of-mouth recommendation to their entire circle of friends.

Pinterest: Photo-Sharing Inspiration Popular With Women

On Pinterest, you can upload beautiful photographs, videos and links to web pages (each item is called a “pin”) into collections (known as “pinboards”), typically organized by a central topic or theme. Food, décor and travel are the most popular categories, and women outnumber men by more than two to one. So it’s no surprise that this fast-growing platform has emerged as a popular social platform for holiday marketing. Hotels with a business account can offer high-quality images of their architecture, interior design, cuisine (including selected recipes) and local attractions. “Rich pins” automatically offer viewers a map, address and phone number.

SnapChat: Fast-moving Millennials

SnapChat is a new frontier for hotel marketers. If you want to target Millennials (that is, people born after 1981) the quirky and fun SnapChat may be the perfect avenue for reaching this rather elusive audience. SnapChat is a mobile phone app. With it, users can send their friends “snaps” – photos or short videos – which disappear after about 10 seconds. Public “Stories” are collections of snaps that can be viewed for 24 hours. The "Discover" feature presents short-form content from publishers and allows for paid advertising. “Geofilters” are special graphic overlays (like a stamp or watermark) that communicate the “where and when” of a snap. They are only available when the user is within a specified location, making them an attractive marketing feature for hotels.

WeChat: China’s Growing Mobile-Messaging Powerhouse

If you’re serious about attracting Chinese guests, you can’t ignore WeChat. This multi-faceted messaging app boasts more than 700 million users in China, and it’s growing at a phenomenal pace. WeChat is tremendously versatile and powerful, letting people stay in touch with friends, share photos, hail cabs, go shopping, book tickets, pay bills, run e-commerce apps and visit corporate sites – and all simply on their mobile phone. It’s no wonder that hoteliers are excited about its potential as a social-media multiplier, a loyalty-club platform, and convenient room-booking channel. One obstacle to starting with WeChat: to reach your target audience in China, it is necessary to have an agent based within China to set up your account for you.

Hassle-free Social Marketing at Your Fingertips

Here’s a quick checklist for getting started on social media:

1. As you can see, each social media platform attracts its own audience. Rather than over-extend, think strategically and select one or two platforms that fit you best.

2. Use authentic, original, high-quality photography of your property and nearby attractions. And when writing a post, remember: brevity.

3. It’s not called “social media” for nothing! Engage with people online. Ask questions, and encourage your audience to respond and interact with you. Look at what your customers are doing, and show you’re interested in them.

4. If you don’t have a dedicated staff member for social media, consider getting professional support from Flip.to, a specialist service. Flip.to turns guests into advocates so that they expand your audience for you.

Want to find out how Flip.to can take the stress out of your social marketing?

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