9 social media tips for 2016
04 JANUARY 2016 8:48 AM
Last year is “so last year” in the social media world. Here’s how hoteliers should think in the new year.
GLOBAL REPORT—Hotel marketers have never seen such rapid and overwhelming change like the one happening in social media. However, there are ways to approach the social media universe that will help maintain perspective in the face of all that change.
Several sources provided nine social media tips for 2016 to help marketers maintain perspective.
1. Keep up with what’s new
Social media innovations catch on with incredible speed. For instance, Periscope and Meerkat, both video streaming apps launched in 2015, are already players in travel marketing. The apps allow users to send video to friends or followers instantly.
“There are constantly new platforms emerging and it’s important to us to stay on top of it,” said Dan Moriarty, director of digital strategy and activation for Hyatt Hotels Corporation.
2. Stay up to date on existing platforms
The big guys are not resting on their laurels. For example, Moriarty said, “Twitter removing direct messaging character limitations really opens up the depth of conversation hotels can have with guests on that platform and enables better connections.
“Also, Instagram has made it easier to tag a location when a picture was taken there, and now allows users to search by location rather than just hashtag. This is huge for travel.”
“Facebook is leading the pack everywhere,” said Benji Greenberg, CEO of BCV, which manages social media for hotels. “They are introducing something new every two weeks. They recently launched Facebook Messenger for business, which is important because companies will be able to embed Messenger in their websites instead of using live chat. Now a customer can walk away from the computer without the usual live chat waiting and maintain the communication on another device.”
3. Practice targeting
"All the social platforms have upped their capabilities around targeting," said Lucy Kemmitz, lead of social media for the Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Curio brands from Hilton Worldwide Holdings.
“Instagram now offers the same extensive and highly accurate targeting parameters as Facebook,” Kemmitz said, “and allows for campaigns that run on both platforms for coordinated campaigns using both platforms at a more affordable price point than previously. As evidence of the effectiveness of the targeting available on Instagram, we see click-through rates of nearly 2.5% on ads for Curio.”
Kemmitz said Twitter launched event-based targeting, which allows marketers to target people interested in area events. She said beta advertisers saw up to a 110% increase in engagement when using this type of targeting on the platform.
Jeremy Jauncey, founder of Beautiful Destinations, which advises brands on Instagram, said paid advertising on Instagram is “the most important change to the platform in its history.”
“Now not only can a hotel tell its story through imagery, targeted ad technology enables brands to drive: clicks to websites, views of videos, mobile app downloads and massive amounts of impressions,” Jauncey said. “Hotels like the Bellagio and Starwood properties such as W and Aloft have already spent money on these types of ads.”
4. Build your images
Video and even variations of still photos like cinemagraphs (still photos with minor movements) are increasingly powerful.
“Facebook is where 80% of social video interactions were happening in 2015,” Kemmitz said.
Hilton, Kemmitz said, has found video to be “our highest organic-reaching and typically most engaging content format. We have seen great results from some of our hotels posting short videos and cinemagraphs natively on Facebook and becoming top-performing pieces of content.”
Jauncey, whose business is built around Instagram, said, “Traditionally Instagram content was limited to square-shaped photos and nothing else. In 2013 they introduced 15-second videos which in the last year have become extremely popular and an important way for brands to tell deeper, more engaging stories.
“The platform also enabled portrait and landscape photos of different sizes to be posted, enabling completely new perspectives of the content being shot by users,” he said.
5. Know your audience and which platforms they’re on
Debbie Miller, president of Social Hospitality, which consults with hoteliers on social media, said the social media outlets of choice even vary among generations of users.
“If you’re targeting the millennial audience, it’d be beneficial to be on SnapChat as that’s the primary platform younger travelers spend their time on,” Miller said.
Jauncey said that while there are challenges with SnapChat—such as the quality of images and lower spending power of users—the upside is “the younger generation using the platform are tomorrow’s target customers and those most difficult to market to at this point.”
Kathleen Reidenbach, SVP of marketing for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, said Kimpton has had different degrees of success with multiple forms of social media.
“Facebook and Twitter continue to be strong customer engagement vehicles, while Instagram and Pinterest lean more heavily on visual storytelling and (user-generated content),” Reidenbach said. “Pinterest has evolved into a key visual platform for hoteliers and helps us serve up content inspired by our areas of expertise like design and entertaining.”
6. Maximize customer experience
At Hyatt, Moriarty said marketers need to figure out how to have appropriate coverage so they engage with guests in the way customers want and with the speed they expect.
“Twitter is no longer the only social channel with expectations of social customer care,” he said. “Hotels need to embrace all of the social channels their guests are using to improve their experiences.”
Kemmitz said she encourages hoteliers to “create experiences, selfie spots and stage scenes, like photo-worthy cocktails and food dishes or elaborate holiday decorations that are worth sharing to encourage guests to share and tell their friends about the hotel. User-generated content like this is increasingly impactful on other travelers who plan their trips by geo-searching on social media.”
Following the customer’s social media patterns through multiple hotel stays is critical, according to Greenberg.
“We try to understand the patterns of customers staying at more than one hotel,” Greenberg said. “We monitor all the social networks and all the geo-location data from the hotels. We need to know that the guest went back to the room at three in the morning and the bed had not been made.”
7. Stay focused
In the face of so much change happening so quickly, knowing your goals is crucial.
“What helps us focus in the right places is staying true to our north star,” Moriarty said. “We always ask, ‘Can this new platform or feature help us care for people so they enjoy their best stay? Can it help us build a long-term relationship with our guests?’ If the answer to those questions is yes, then we believe in jumping in and testing it out.
“Examples of this include our recent addition of Messenger integration to our 24/7 social care efforts and testing SnapChat’s location-based filters for Hyatt Regency hotels across the U.S. and Canada.”
8. Understand the influencers
“When somebody has a large influential following and travels on business 15 times a year, you need to treat that customer in a special way,” Greenberg said.
Jauncey agreed, citing the power of Instagram users’ “influencer community” which “shoots inspiring content and generates large followings.” He said that through the use of data and analytics brands can understand who the most impactful influencers are for them.
Similarly, Jauncey said it’s important to “shoot social-first content, content shot specifically for social media and shot by influencers whose audience and creative abilities match that of the hotel.”
At Hilton, Kemmitz said, “influencers and livestreaming are two areas we’ve gained traction with this year and will continue into next year. Curio has been running a long-term influencer program with Global Yodel under the hashtag #CitiesByCurio. And we’ve found growing success in promoting livestreams on sites like Periscope, Meerkat and MyEye on Twitter which ties in to our ‘in-the-moment’ approach.”
9. Keep an eye on the future
2016 will be “all about messaging and how companies can purchase ads on that vehicle. That is particularly true for brands with Asian locations where messaging is even bigger than it is domestically,” Greenberg said.
Kemmitz said the growing dominance of mobile for social media means hotel marketers should create content and write copy with a “mobile-first mentality,” and Kimpton’s Reidenbach said her company will utilize that strategy in the new year. https://www.kimptonhotels.com/kimpton-history
“In 2016, we believe user-generated content will remain king, and Kimpton will continue to elevate these photos, testimonials and stories throughout our digital and social touchpoints,” Reidenbach said. “UGC provides an authentic glimpse into what it’s like to experience Kimpton. For example, through social listening we noticed more guests posting selfies so we stocked all our properties with selfie sticks and developed a contest built around monthly #AdoreThySelfie winners.”