A couple months ago I covered some basics on how to boost hotel search engine rankings in the ever-changing local search space. Today, I’m going to cover some basics on the social-media side.
As I mentioned previously, search-engine marketing is often highly tactical; it involves checking things off a list to ensure the highest potential for visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Social media is a completely different space. While developing a presence there can be beneficial, diving right in can be harmful (especially for smaller boutiques) without first establishing a solid plan. Search (on the organic side) is about doing; social is about planning.
What do you have time to do well?
Before running around yelling things like “We need Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, and Scribd accounts and we need them YESTERDAY!” take a step back and consider how much time you actually have in a given week to do the ongoing maintenance of posting content, responding to comments and overseeing your social media platforms.
Remember: The only people who will notice that you don’t have an insert social media profile here account are the people who already are using them. So if you have them but don’t use them effectively, it can be worse in the long run than doing nothing.
What are your guests already doing?
Rather than starting with a specific social medium and trying to figure out what to say on it, it’s often more productive to first figure out where your current demographic is active. Unless your brand is aggressively trying to break into a new market segment, starting where the conversation is already happening is often your best bet. And with 845 million monthly active users (as of December 2011), Facebook is a must even for smaller brands.
Now that we have a starting point, it’s time to jump into some time-saving tactics:
Time saver No. 1: Batch respond to comments
Whatever the social account(s) you decide to utilize—Facebook and beyond—you’ll need to set aside some time to respond to your followers, fans and friends. Rather than constantly refreshing your Facebook or Twitter profile all day, start with reserving about 20 minutes per location per social property to thank your guests for positive remarks and address negative comments.
Time saver No. 2: Leverage technology
Staying on top of everything that’s being said about your brand, especially at the individual location level, is going to take some combination of time and/or money.
Paid tool: Revinate
For brands that don’t mind using a paid tool, Revinate is excellent for cutting the time it takes to stay on top of Twitter, Facebook, TripAdvisor and pretty much anywhere else people are posting about you online. From one dashboard, you can post to Twitter, respond to reviews on TripAdvisor and monitor review trends.
Free tool: Google Alerts combined with Google Reader
Using Google Alerts and Google Reader are great because they’re free. It will take more time for somebody to manage though. Google Alerts crawls Google’s index for specific keywords and can deliver this to a RSS feed, which can then be read through Google Reader. This becomes a free one-stop-shop for anything discussed on your brand. Here’s one example:
Time saver No. 3: Content calendar
Establish a content calendar so you don’t have to scramble every day to think of something to post about. Break this calendar into three main content buckets:
1. Evergreen content: Things that you can post about year-round. For example, is your hotel located in an arts district? Post about the galleries and events they’re holding.
2. Seasonal content: Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, etc.—these come around every year. Get your content ready early to save some time and sanity.
3. Timely content: This is the content you can’t predict but is great for engagement. Relevant local, national or even pop news can add some spice to your social profiles.
Get out there!
Now that you have a plan set up for how you’re going to keep up with what people already are talking about, how and when you’re going to respond to them and a content calendar to keep visitors engaged, the next step is to hold yourself to making time for social. While the tips above will help streamline processes, it will still take some time to build a fan base and keep your followers interested. So stop reading and get to work!
David Backes joined the sem agency Anvil Media, Inc as a Technical Account Executive in early 2010. David added several years of design and development experience to Anvil, along with his strong copywriting background. Today, David specializes in the hospitality and travel industry, along with technical Web design for conversion optimization. In addition to managing a variety of travel focused clients, David is Anvil Media's in house webmaster, designer and developer.
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