Who doesn’t feel like the king of the universe when they scroll down their Twitter or Facebook feed and see tons of likes, shares, and comments?
Social media is an effective way to engage with potential guests and has cemented itself as an important marketing channel, but far too many businesses, hotels included, either hand off their account to some young relative or ignore it altogether. In this post, we’ll cover best practices and creative tips to help you drive engagement on your social media channels like a pro.
Best Practices 1. Images, stats and quotes engage best
Statistics overwhelmingly show that people interact with visuals on social media more than plain text updates. Sharing photos is an easy way to engage with your audience, especially high-resolution, high-quality pictures of your property. Booking.com does an excellent job of using photos of its partners’ properties to drive engagement. After visuals, stats and quotes collect the most eyeballs on social media. Stats get 10 percent more retweets than those without while including a quote in your tweets makes it 19 percent more likely to get retweeted than non-quotes.
My weekend actually starts in sweatpants on my couch, but I wish it started here.
2. Shorten URLs
While this may seem like a small detail, shortening your URLs with services like bitly will save you characters, which is important for optimal social media performance (the ideal length for tweets is 100 characters, while the ideal Facebook post is 40 characters). Plus, you can track your link statistics.
3. Post at the right time of day
The jury is still out on the right times to post on social media. Common practice says downtimes such as before office hours, during lunch breaks, and after work are the best times to post, but studies present conflicting data. The best way to find out what is best is to test different times with your audience. Every audience is unique–maybe most of your audience is in a different time zone or maybe they have atypical schedules. Try testing different post times to determine what works best for you.
4. Respond to customers—the good and the bad
Engaging with your customers is essential to a good social media presence. Encouraging conversation by responding to customers builds engagement and fosters good sentiment from your audience. While this is easy to do with customers who sing your praises, it is more difficult and even more important to respond to negative customer feedback. Sometimes a simple, “I’m sorry you feel this way. What can we do to improve your experience next time?” goes a long way.
Think of a negative customer review or comment as an opportunity. But, whatever you do—respond. The world of social media a very demanding, fast-paced space with 42% of customers expecting a response within an hour. If the comment goes unanswered, you have no chance to remedy the situation, but by responding to the customer graciously, you have the chance to mitigate the negativity and earn respect from the customer.
Mishandle one of these situations or leave it unattended, however, and the negative sentiment can spread. Be sure to avoid automated messages at all costs, as being impersonal is just about the quickest way to make the customer feel even worse.
Who knew Flo was so insensitive?
An interesting scenario arises when dealing with people who poke fun at brands on social media—affectionately known as “trolls.” While there is no protocol for dealing with these situations, avoid responding negatively. Responding earnestly, like poor Xbox Support below, may feed into the joke, but will avoid potential conflict. In certain situations, replying to jokes with jokes can be both appropriate and a unique way to handle the situation while gaining brownie points from your audience.
You don’t want to know what happens in Grand Theft Auto, Xbox—trust us.
Keeping our fingers crossed for McCheese/Hamburglar 2016.
Spammy posts are best left ignored, and usually fairly easy to identify. Be wary, as social media is as good a platform as any for spam and phishing.
5. Think before you post
While this may seem like common sense, you would be surprised at how many big-name brands forget this simple rule. Just type in “social media fails” on Google, and you’ll see how many mistakes brands have committed, garnering negative PR and customer sentiment. Your hotel should not post about hot-button issues and should generally stay away from public tragedies unless they directly affect your local area. And, of course, be genuine in these scenarios—try not to offer condolences where they are not welcome. Insincerity never results in a positive outcome.
6. Be useful
Offer help. Answer questions and concerns. Provide content your audience wants to see. This is the main objective of social media as a marketing channel. While page likes and follower counts certainly aren’t bad and can make you feel good, meaningful engagement is much better.
Social media has received so much attention as a new marketing channel because it provides an avenue for companies and organizations to connect with customers directly in a meaningful, conversational way. The old school advertising tactics of “talking-at” customers is over. Be someone who people actually want in their news feeds by providing quality content that creates value for them. Some consumers come to social media to find deals, so posting promotions that your hotel is running on Facebook is certainly a good idea, but be sure to keep a healthy balance between promotional and informational.
7. Tailor your post to the specific channel
Remember, every social channel works differently and what may make a great post on Twitter might fall flat on Pinterest. You should tailor your posts according to the intended purpose and limitations of each channel. Check out this awesome infographic that Hubspot created to show the components of a quality post on each of the major social media outlets.
Facebook’s recipe for success.
Now that we’ve covered some best practices for your posts, you may be wondering how to amp up your voice to engage the socks off your followers.
1. Write catchy calls-to-action
Grab your audiences’ attention in 90 to 150 characters. An effective CTA increases the likelihood that will click the quality content that you provide your audience. Check out this post on our blog for a rundown on how to write effective CTAs.
2. Borrow from what inspires you
During his Ziggy Stardust days, David Bowie was asked by a reporter, “Are you original?” He replied: “The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.”
Newsflash: Nothing is original.
Content demigod Janet knows this. Identify sources of content that are useful to your audience and check them for regularly for shareables and inspiration. For example, Janet regularly reads local magazines and websites for events to share with her hotel’s audience. Check your sources on the regular and keep a running list of potential things to share in case you content drought later.
Be like Janet—and David Bowie.
3. Be timely
The name of the game on social media is keepin’ it fresh. Tailoring your content to seasonality, holidays, special events, etc. is good source of fodder for when nothing else is going on. Is autumn coming to in your area? Share a photo of the colorful leaves around your property and nearby autumn activities. Is there a convention coming to your town? Post about your available lodging nearby. Hotel Tonight has done a good job recently of utilizing temporality in their posts by targeting empty-nesters at the start of the school year.
You deserve a vacation, parents, and this pool looks awfully nice.
Be sure that your content is relevant to the timeliness of your post. Luckily for hotels, there are many timely things to post about, but try to avoid forcing your way into events for the sole purpose of earning likes. Make sure the event or time is relevant to what your audience wants to read. Don’t be like OxiClean …
Bit of a stretch, Oxi Clean.
4. Have a sense of humor
Studies consistently show that people prefer to share humorous and positive content on Facebook and other social media, so keep it light and don’t be afraid to crack a joke from time to time. People want to buy from humans—not marketing drones. There’s one thing big companies with lots of money can never compete with, and that’s your personality. It’s like Eve says: “I do what they can’t do, I just do me.”
5. Don’t be condescending with “like-bait”
Using like-bait photos and statuses—which often beg users to like the post, like the Oxi Clean photo above—does little to benefit anyone other than your social media agency. While they may win some likes and comments, you are not creating value for the consumer or building trust in your brand. Avoid the temptation to boost vanity metrics and instead focus on creating value and trust using the rest of the steps above. For anOnion-like take on engagement-bait posts, aka examples of what not to do, check out the Condescending Corporate Brand Page.