5 ways to be more engaging on social media
5 ways to be more engaging on social media
29 APRIL 2015 7:33 AM
Engaging with guests on social media is one way to push profit to the bottom line. Here are some best practices to help. 
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Savvy hotel managers understand the importance of including social media in their marketing plan. Engaging with travelers allows them to not only better meet the needs and expectations of their guests, but it also can drive profit to the bottom line.
There is a direct link between customers’ engagement levels with a hotel and the amount of money they spend there, according to Gallup. The group’s “2014 Hospitality Industry Study” found that while guests spent $457 on average  when they visited a hotel, fully engaged guests spent $588.
Engaged guests who have an emotional connection to a brand also are more likely to become brand ambassadors.
Here are five best practices to help you engage travelers in a more meaningful way: 
1. Learn the platforms
There’s more to social media than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. 
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company recently ranked as the top-performing hotel chain on Facebook and second-best on Twitter, by technology and data company Engagement Labs. But that’s not where Ritz-Carlton’s activity ends. The company posts regularly to 12 different social channels including Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Sina Weibo, Google+, Youku, LinkedIn, Foursquare and WeChat. 
“It all goes back to creating content that is platform-specific,” said Laura Troy, social media manager for Ritz-Carlton. “Know your guest and what type of content they like to connect with, and then fine-tune your strategy. Focus on inspiring someone to travel or to go somewhere new where maybe they haven’t gone before.” 
Each platform might yield different results. Katie Genrich, director of sales and marketing at DoubleTree by Hilton Madison, the brand’s top-performing small hotel in 2014 for social media, said that the hotel saw a 3% increase in revenue booked through Google in 2014 as a result of increasing the hotel’s social media presence on Google+. 
“While Google never gives away its secrets on SEO impact, I have to believe the activity we’ve done on Google+ has directly (affected) our search engine optimization,” she said. 
For more on this topic, read HNN’s Special Report, “Social Media 2.0: Rethinking strategies
2. Dedicate the necessary resources 
Posting regularly is essential, but posts need to have a consistent voice.
“I hired a dedicated social media manager,” Genrich said. “At a lot of hotels, it’s a secondary job for somebody, and so it gets done once a week. But for us it’s a daily effort, and we have found a lot of success.” 
3. Craft the right content
Determine your target market and post content that is relevant and personal to that market. Most importantly, do not over-promote, Genrich said. The objective is to become a resource for current and future travelers. You’ll turn guests off—quickly—if you merely tout yourself. 
“Find out what pulls on the heartstrings of your guests,” she said. 
During the recent NCAA basketball tournament, the DoubleTree by Hilton Madison supported its home team, the University of Wisconsin Badgers, on Facebook. Genrich also came up with promotions to encourage traveler engagement, such as the recent giveaway of a DoubleTree bed and a current promotion that will award 20,000 Hilton HHonors points to the 10,000th person who likes the hotel on Facebook.  
“Photo contests or promotions with prizes engage guests in a more personalized manner and foster interactions between guests,” said Edwin Torres, a professor at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management in Orlando. “When guests interact with each other, social media becomes not only a marketing tool but also an informational tool and something interesting that guests want to do.” 
4. Respond to traveler inquiries or complaints immediately
Social media encourages two-way communication with your guests and other travelers. As such, good practice calls for the constant monitoring of social media sites, including review sites like TripAdvisor. Reponses to questions or other issues should be prompt. 
A recent study by customer experience management company Medallia found a direct link between responsiveness to social media reviews and occupancy rate. The firm examined data from more than 4,400 Best Western International hotels worldwide. Properties that responded to more than 50% of social reviews grew occupancy by 6.4 percentage points, more than twice the rate of properties that ignored social media reviews.
“Be genuine. We’ve all seen the negative, where a GM puts out a blanket post that repeats the same thing,” said Michael Morton, VP of member services for Best Western International. “That does more harm than good.” 

Morton also cautions hoteliers to remember that social media is a public forum and that some issues should be addressed privately. If there was an accident or theft, for example, continue the conversation via phone or email, but post that you are working to resolve the issue so that other travelers see that you are responding.

“Be engaging and share what you can,” he said. “But don’t put yourself in an environment where you are going to jeopardize your hotel or yourself in a public forum.” 
5. Don’t forget the metrics
You can’t determine if your social media efforts are successful unless you set benchmarks for each platform and analyze results regularly, said Diana Plazas, director of global brand marketing for DoubleTree by Hilton.  
“Look at the audience and see what they are reacting to,” she said. “Are people commenting, liking, responding and sharing? It really comes down to engagement.” 

1 Comment

  • drlisawp April 29, 2015 6:26 AM

    Great tips here. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to become a resource for guests rather than constantly blasting them with deals and discounts. I also recommend going with a dedicated social media manager, especially when working to boost your visibility. For smaller properties, consider seeking out local travel bloggers with that opportunity.

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