In this virtual discussion, Hotel News Now asked social media experts what they think is trending in and out this year in terms of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
GLOBAL REPORT—Social media has become an important part of everyday life for many, and it is becoming increasingly more important for businesses to interact on, including hotels.
Hotel News Now asked social experts through email interviews what social media channels are important to be on, which ones are fading out and how hoteliers can do a better job to optimize engagement on social platforms.
Q: What’s the most important social media channel hoteliers should be spending time on?
Anna Mellström, social media manager, Scandic Hotels Group
“My short answer to that is that hoteliers should be where your customers are. Many of our guests and potential guests use the most common social media platforms, and we aim to be present and responsive in forums where they are. Each platform provides different possibilities to communicate and for Scandic Hotels, a mix of different platforms is the best way reach our wide audience and their interests.
“As social media in many ways has changed the way we communicate between each other over the last years, it has also changed the way consumers expect companies to communicate. To meet the expectations of us as a hotel company, we need to understand the consumer behavior online. Here, data gives us great insights, and by analyzing the data we can, in a better way, understand how to give excellent service to our guests, peers and future employees. At Scandic, we use the largest social media platforms for marketing and customer support purposes as well as seeding company information and attracting new employees.”
Michael Tchong, founder and trend forecaster, Ubercool Innovation
“Facebook, with its 2.3-billion global users, remains the social media platform of choice for marketers worldwide. Facebook’s micro-targeting advertising capabilities are also second to none. As a result, virtually every social media marketer worldwide agrees that Facebook produces the best return on investment and is essential.
“When it comes to influencer marketing, another 2016 study found that nearly a third of U.S. influencers cite Facebook as being the best influencer marketing platform, closely followed by Instagram. The trend held through 2018, with 94% of marketers using Facebook, followed by Instagram at 66%. Today, two in three marketers claim Facebook is their most important social platform. Keep in mind, however, that there’s growing discontent among marketers about Facebook’s effectiveness. Only 49% of marketers feel their Facebook marketing is effective, and 52% have experienced declines in their organic Facebook reach in the last year. As Facebook continues to change its promotional rules and methodologies, expect this trend to accelerate. Instagram is popular among fashion influencers and celebrity watchers. As such, it’s an ideal platform for marketers who have a visually appealing story to tell. However, it should be noted that ROI questions have traditionally hounded influencer marketing, so keep an eye on your bottom line. Last but not least is YouTube, which remains the world’s largest video medium, attracting a massive number of eyeballs worldwide. However, if your video message does not resonate within 11 seconds, it will be skipped.”
Dan Schacter, senior director, social engagement & public relations, RLH Corporation
“We have found a lot of success from both Facebook and Instagram. Facebook is great from a paid media standpoint, the targeting and retargeting features are excellent and has a lot of features to hit potential guests.
“From an organic standpoint, we are currently having the most success with Instagram. The hashtag feature makes it easy for users to find posts compared to other social media platforms, and the user base is continuing to grow. Instagram continues to roll out new features to get potential guests to your website from the platform to book and drive revenue for your property.”
Sam Trotter, marketing strategy manager, Charlestowne Hotels
“Taking out review platforms, Facebook still dominates and the reason why (it) has changed: paid ads. The network has done a tremendous job improving their advertising platform. They can help with anything from getting out a promotion to your database to acquiring email addresses to grow your eblast campaign success. Google's reviews have increased sharply in 2018. I don't see that changing in the near term. (It’s important to) make sure staff is responding to reviews through Google My Business and staying active on that channel.”
Q: What platforms are fading out that hoteliers shouldn’t waste time on?
Mellström: “Social media is an environment that changes over time, and it is important to look at what value the platforms provides to the guest. By putting the needs of the guest and potential guests in focus, it becomes easier to understand what added value the specific platform gives in the relationship with the guest. Hence, we see a need (for) Scandic to be present in the largest platforms. There is also a future potential in chat platforms in terms of a seamless and easy communication between us and our guests. Again, it is a matter of where our guests are and how they like to receive information from companies.”
Tchong: “I suggest staying away from Twitter. Since this platform increasingly identifies with vitriol, which its CEO appears only to encourage, hoteliers should avoid having their brand identified with a negative force. Invest in improving your site’s customer experience instead, which, based on my research, is an area in dire need of practical innovation.”
Schacter: “We are continuing to see a decline in use on Twitter. That being said, it is still an important medium to monitor as many users still turn to Twitter to ask questions leading up to or while booking their vacation.
“While we have looked into it, we do not see value in spending time on Snapchat. The user base is younger than the average travel planner and it is not an easy platform for hotel brands to stand out. This is an easy platform to pass on.”
Trotter: “To me, hotels should ignore Snapchat at this time. There are likely niche hotels where a great Snapchat account makes sense, but for 99% it likely does not make any sense. Another interesting data point has been the sharp decline in review volume on TripAdvisor and additionally, the decline of referral traffic from their site. While still relevant, they have been put on notice. I'm recommending everyone re-evaluate their paid business listings as they renew this year and push back on price increases that aren't substantiated with revenue growth.”
Q: In what ways can hoteliers optimize engagement with guests, peers, potential hires, etc., on social media or how are you accomplishing this?
Mellström: “Instagram gives great possibilities to drive inspirational content and awareness of Scandic’s fantastic hotels, food and destinations. Facebook on the other hand offers an account structure, which is good in terms of driving both local and global awareness. Twitter is a channel where we can communicate company news and where we can also answer customer queries. LinkedIn, with its focus on business relationships and employer branding, suits us great to use with local presence.”
Tchong: “Four out of 10 consumers these days expect marketers to respond within an hour, 67% expect to hear from you the same day. …It’s vitally important that your social media platform be capable of managing feedback and complaints on a collaborative basis with time-to-answer monitoring and group alerts. There are hundreds of social media platforms, many of them significantly overpriced. As an innovation speaker who encourages attendees to follow lean-and-mean startup practices, how can one adhere to these principles and justify paying large sums of money for social media tools? I recommend investigating easy-to-use engagement suites that follow user experience best practices…”
Schacter: “We are continuously monitoring all our social media platforms through (a social media management platform) and engaging with users who are asking questions or reaching out to us. We tend to find each platform hits specific demographics. For example, we engage with potential hires and current employees primarily on LinkedIn. Many guests will ask questions or send comments on Twitter or Facebook, and guests are sharing their experience on Instagram. By monitoring what the conversation is around us, we are able to find organic and authentic moments to engage.”
Trotter: “We take this as a case-by-case basis. Some hotels warrant this type of interaction and others don't. In all cases, I recommend remaining active on review sites, especially for those reviews of three stars and below.”