Hotel Industry Blog

Friday, June 4, 2010

How Best To Use Social Media For Your Hotel

Here's quick run-through on how best to use Blogger, Facebook and Twitter for your hotel and generate good quality followers.

Blogger

Go to blogger.com and sign up for an account if you do not already have one. You will need to choose a name for your blog, so give it something recognisable for search engines, such as “greenhotelgalway”. Blogger will then generate a blog for you at the address greenhotelgalway.blogspot.com

Content:
Blog articles (like this one!) are longer descriptive pieces, similar to news articles. Make sure to use keyword-rich content relevant to your business and location so that you can improve search engine presence for your business.
How much to write:
Minimum of two paragraphs.
How often:
At least once every one to two weeks, more often will do no harm.
What to write about:
Local events, hotel updates, new menus, special offers, coming attractions and events, recipes, reviews or commentary after events, human interest stories about your establishment, perhaps a short interview with a famous guest etc.
What to include:
Always include an image or two to break up the text, but watch out for copyright issues. Best to use your own photos once the quality is good enough. Always include a link back to the hotel website and links to other articles you have written where relevant to get good cross-linkage. Include other media where possible and keep the tone of writing less informal.
Effectiveness:
Long term effectiveness, as search engines index you blog entries. Value to potential guests who see a wealth of events and happenings at your establishment over time.

Facebook

Go to Facebook.com and sign up for an account. Once you are signed up, you can also set up a page for your business, and can invite others in your business to also be administrators of that page, so that they can contribute as authors too.

Content:
Similar to a news update service, with catchy headings and text.
How much to write:
Two to three lines to get your point across in a punch, don’t write too much text.
How often:
At least 3-4 times a week. Avoid spamming - too many posts from one page too often could result in users “Unliking” the page.
What to write about:
Special offers, upcoming events, unusual happenings, seeking guest opinions on something, hotel or restaurant updates, posts to exploit different departments of your business etc. Try to engage customers and get their input.
What to include:
Always include an image, link, event or video to attract extra attention visual attention. Include some capitalized text and call-to-action words if you have a once-off item i.e. SPECIAL FACEBOOK OFFER, GIVE YOUR OPINION, CLICK HERE etc., but don’t overdo this as it looks like “shouting”, and nobody likes a loud person! Use a less formal, chatty and engaging tone.
Effectiveness:
Short to medium term, for those who follow your posts this will drop down their Facebook page relatively quickly and lose freshness in a couple of days. Good to create immediate awareness of events, offers etc .


Twitter

Go to Twitter.com and sign up for an account. You can use other tools to post to Twitter also, such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and others, which give you more management and scheduling capability. Hootsuite will also handle posting and scheduling for your Facebook pages.

Content:
Similar to news flash with catch, high-impact headline.
How much to write:
Restricted to 140 characters, like a single text message, so focus!
How often:
On a daily basis if possible, or even a few times a day when you can.
What to write about:
Daily offers, hotel updates, daily entertainment, daily restaurant specials, sudden happenings that highlight your hotel. Often quite gossipy (“XY has just walked into our hotel!!”) etc.
What to include:
Try to add a shortened link (use the bit.ly service for example) to the hotel website or to the article or image you are referring to. Use an informal tone, keep tweets interesting to entice tweet to be shared (retweeted).
Effectiveness:
Tweets have a very short life span and drop down the follower’s page very quickly. They have a very short term effect and reflect immediacy.


Social Media Comparison Chart from Bookassist

How To Generate More Quality Likes and Followers

When starting off a Facebook “Like” page it can be hard to generate a solid group of followers. The best suggestion to initially build the base is to get the business’s employees to “Like” the page and then get them to suggest the page to their friends. But remember to only suggest to friends that may be interested in the business’s messages. Once this is done the “Likes” will take an initial jump. This can the be built on, for example, by creating a competition for followers that entices new followers, and once a certain “Likes” goal has been achieved a winner will be selected. Another more powerful route would be to write interesting posts that would entice followers to “Share” that post with there friends. Once a “Like” goal is achieved, test the new “Likes” and see if they are of good quality by asking for feedback on some issue or getting opinions on some aspect of your business. Use your Facebook analytics to see how people are interacting.

With Twitter, you will start off in the wild with no followers, and you must begin to tweet messages or retweet others’ relevant messages in order to start building a personality or focus for your Twitter account. To generate followers, an initial route would be to search for people or businesses in the locality or in the hospitality industry and follow them in the hope of getting a reciprocal following. Once a follower base is there, if they tweet anything interesting you should retweet it. This will add the follower’s Twitter link onto the followers wall thus exposing that follower to a wider audience.

With all your social media outlets, add their logos to your business publications both online and offline. Online, include them in your website, ezines, newsletters, email signatures etc. Offline, include them in leaflets, brochures, posters etc. If you post a blog entry, right a tweet about it and link to it. Mention it, with a link, in Facebook. You can use free tools to get a feed from your Twitter, Facebook and or Blogger account to your website showing the latest updates. Get all of these media interlinked and working together as your information network.


Paul Ferry is Search Specialist at Bookassist

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Social Media and the Fan Phenomenon

People are constantly asking us at Bookassist what they should use social media for, which social media channels are the most important, how can they build their fanbase, or even at a most basic level, what is social media and do we really need it? We thought it was a good time to bring back to the table those issues related to social media that are particularly important for hospitality.

Ask Why? Not What?

When the web first started up and businesses began to contemplate a web presence, much the same questions were being asked in relation to websites. It took time for many companies to even realise that they had to engage with the web, that there was no choice if they were to survive. A website was about presenting your brand and offering, about projecting your image. It evolved into a marketing and commerce machine, about making existing sales efforts more efficient, about new capturing sales, and about generating revenue with better margin. It took time for that progression from static to dynamic to occur.

We know that social media is about conversation, it’s about listening to what is being said about you and engaging in that conversation with other businesses and with your customers and potential customers. But why is this conversation important? The why needs to be addressed before the what and how.

Customer Service

Social media gives you, in hospitality, an ideal opportunity to project your customer service outside your establishment in a way that you could not do before. By engaging in a more casual way through channels such as Facebook and Twitter, it shows that you are interested in your existing and potential customers, that you are willing to listen to them, and that you are open to converse.

This does not mean that you must always agree with their comments! But it does afford you a clear opportunity to clarify issues promptly and fully should they arise. For others to see that public engagement between you and your customers or reviewers is a clear sign of your commitment to customer service.

To put it another way: your customers are already online and talking about you, or commenting on you, whether you like it or not. To not acknowledge that through engagement means losing an opportunity to control the conversation, to be factual, and to demonstrate customer service. If nothing else, it is not polite to have positive customer comments online met with silence on your part.

Quality, Not Quantity

When hospitality businesses do engage online, particularly through Facebook and Twitter, there is often initially a naïve drive to simply work up a bigger list of fans and be a top ten player in fan count. While having followers is obviously important, the quantity in itself says nothing about your success on the ground, about your revenue or reputation.

What is the point in having 2000 Facebook fans who have never actually visited your premises and probably never will, but are there because their hip and cool Aunty Muriel asked all her fans to follow you? What is important is the level of engagement that you have with your fans.

How many of those fans visit your page regularly? Do you actually know? How many of your fans actually comment back to you when you post something? How many respond to questions you may pose online? How many avail of any special offers or competitions that you might run? Are you tracking that? These at least are metrics that you can use to try to gauge success, and to gauge how many of that fan base actually matter.

In many ways, the fan base can be like the huge email list of old, before privacy legislation made pruning the list an urgent necessity. An often inflated list that was regularly bombarded with emails but whose recipients rarely engaged or generated revenue. Far more important to have 100 solid emails that want to regularly receive your information, than 1,000,000 that are disinterested and bin your email immediately.

Focus on serving those who have opted to follow you for a reason, and you will naturally gain more loyal fans organically. Good customer service is always talked about and builds brand ambassadors. This is no less true online.

Des O'Mahony

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