REPORT FROM THE U.S.—When Facebook’s new Timeline design launches 30 March, hotel owners and marketers will have myriad new outlets to showcase their brand, especially with the new customizable layouts, said Lisa Klueppel, director of online acquisition marketing for Vizergy, a hotel Internet marketing agency, during a webinar titled “Facebook Timeline for Brands: How Hoteliers Can Take Advantage.”
Facebook, which reaches more than 845 million users worldwide, is a “destination,” Klueppel said.
“It has the stickiness. Facebook is the site Google’s CEO stays up at night worrying about,” she said.
Klueppel described Facebook as “a marketer’s dream.” And Timeline will only enhance this, as it allows businesses to tell their story with a chronological listing of important events in the hotel’s history. There’s a larger emphasis on the visual, as well as a more detailed backend, which allows the new Timeline feature to serve an extension of the hotel’s brand, enticing guests to check out the hotel and what it has to offer, she said.
Timeline is “for you and is you,” Klueppel said. “It’s your brand. It’s the newest, most personalized, most flexible visual ad campaign we’ve ever seen.”
Klueppel said because the Timeline feature is the hotel’s ad campaign—it’s how hoteliers connect—there are three things every brand should do:
1. Entice and invite. “What can you do to get guests and fans to come visit your property?” she asked.
2. Build a relationship. Facebook, especially Timeline, is customizable and visually interesting. “The opportunity here is to build relationships,” and to “stay top of mind,” she said. It’s something other than ‘buy from me’ or ‘book from me,’ she explained.
3. Get personal. “You have the ability to have great imagery. Utilize real photos of your property,” Klueppel said.
Perhaps the most important takeaway from Facebook Timeline is the experience it presents to potential guests, creating a personalized space that showcases the personality of the brand by using imagery and posts that attract guests, she said. By analyzing what your brand stands for, you’ll be able to create a Facebook Timeline that reflects what you want to say about your property, Klueppel added.
What are the Timeline changes?
With Timeline, Klueppel said, “You have the ability to express your identity with visually interesting features. You have the ability to reach your audience where they are,” and you can respond to people quickly, directly and personally. The new features of Timeline are nuanced and more stimulating. Here’s what hoteliers can expect when Facebook makes the change:
• The design is more visually engaging. Klueppel emphasized the importance of choosing a cover photo, which “sets the tone of the page.” It’s your showcase, she said. “The one image that you want to stick with your guests,” and one that identifies the experience of the property. The cover photo (at 851x315 pixels) is larger than the profile picture and can be updated daily. However, cover photos can’t include discounts, promotions or anything that’s blatantly soliciting a user.
• The profile picture, which is the smaller icon below the cover photo, for a hotel’s page should be the company logo—something that can easily be displayed all over Facebook.
• You can feature three or four tabs and have up to eight, with some located in the dropdown menu. You can create custom tabs including a booking engine tab, amenity information, as well as native apps such as maps and videos. “The one (tab) that can’t be edited or moved is the photo tab,” Klueppel said.
• When creating a status or post, you can “pin” a specific one to the top of the Timeline for up to seven days. “It allows you (to feature) one piece of content and still continue to post without worrying that the content will slide down your timeline,” Klueppel explained.
• Curate your timeline. Timeline allows you to backdate information. You can change the date on posts and distribute images and posts throughout the timeline. For example, if you have photos from 2011 that you’d like to post today, you can post those so they appear on the right place on your to timeline to seem chronological.
• “Starring” images takes the post and expands it, especially images, so they take up the width of your page.
• The milestone section is where you can import the history of your property, telling your hotel’s history by highlighting important dates.
• You can create customized photo montages featuring the rooms on your property. “Showcase what you want to showcase,” Klueppel said, but it should be “fluid and consistent with the tone you set with your cover photo.”
A more detailed backend
On the backend, Facebook is even more detailed. If there’s a mention, a tag or anything similar to that, you’ll be notified. Also, users can now direct message you. “You can’t initiate the direct message with the user, but you can respond to the user,” Klueppel said.
The backend also shows granular details: total likes, friends of the fans of your page, total reach, the people talking about you, the engaged users who are clicking on your posts or photos, etc. “This helps qualify and quantify what the impact is,” Klueppel added. Looking at demographics by country, by city, by language and by age also is available.
“You get to see how they’re connecting. You get to see the reach,” she said. “It’s so much more information than anyone imagined we’d have from a marketing platform.”
Gleaning insights about your fans from demographic information to why they’re coming to you and where their interest lies are only a small portion of Timeline’s capabilities, Klueppel said.
“Timeline is a way to tell your story,” she said. “It’s the most pervasive marketing material. It’s a continuation of who you are and your property.”