Whether you’re a boutique hotel or a luxury hotel chain, social media still plays a big part in hotel marketing and engagement. Long gone are the days where people made their decision on a hotel by checking review websites or reading the hotel website itself. Now there are multiple online channels that potential bookers are consulting before making their final decision. Rather than simply searching online using Google, people are turning to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and now Snapchat to see what a hotel has to offer and how they interact with users and guests. According to an infographic by Social Times, 76% of travellers post their holiday photos to social media and 52% of people said their friends’ holiday snaps inspired their travel plans. Interestingly, one in three people who used social media platforms to research their holiday destination changed their original hotel choice after seeing a more appealing alternative. Your social media pages could be the defining factor as to whether someone makes a booking with you or not. Wanderlust guests are on the hunt for the inspiring moments they see online, in magazines and on TV so it’s vital for hotels to be providing those moments to keep up with the competition. Below are five tips to help improve your hotel’s social media efforts and inspire your followers and users in search of their next adventure to book your hotel. Focus your efforts As with most things in life, quality over quantity is always better when it comes to social media. It’s better to manage one or two social media platforms really well rather than have five that don’t have your full attention and aren’t seeing the results they should be. Usually, we would expect a hotel to have its own Facebook and Twitter profiles, and with the ever-increasing popularity of image-led content Instagram has become a staple of many hotel’s online strategies. Before deciding which channels are right for your business, it’s vital that you understand which platforms your target audience is using and what sort of content hits their travel triggers, gets their thumbs hitting the like button and ultimately drives them to make a booking. Check out these social media demographics from Social media monitoring tool Sprout Social to help you decide what platform is the most appropriate for your hotel to be seen on. Keep your ear to the ground Whether a guest is sharing a beautiful image of their room on Instagram or sharing a review about their experience at your hotel on Twitter, you must respond in an appropriate manner to either capitalise on this opportunity or address any immediate issues and divert the conversation offline. It’s best practice to answer a question or message within 24 hours and with big brands such as Lloyds Bank, Waitrose and B&Q running dedicated customer service Twitter accounts consumers are becoming increasingly expectant of a quick response online. What’s particularly impressive is that Virgin Trains has an average response time of just 4m 25s for customer service related queries on Twitter. Read this article recently published by Marketing Week highlighting the heroes and slackers of social media customer service. According to Bain & Company, when a company engages and responds to customers via social media, those customers spend 20-40% more with them. Don’t go it alone Posting, scheduling and monitoring several social media profiles can be hard to manage but there are a range of different platforms that can help you stay on top of it. TweetDeck and Buffer are free tools that help you schedule in your tweets and post in advance, however the disadvantage to using a free tool is that it may not cover all social media platforms. Sprout Social is a full social media management tool that allows you to monitor, schedule and analyse all your efforts within one dashboard. The best solution to being time stretched and struggling to find content inspiration of course is to outsource your social media strategy to a communications agency such as Custard. Express your brand The key things social media should do for your hotel is to make people aware of your brand, inspire your followers to return or become a customer and to encourage your guests to become your ambassadors which will help to spread your message within their own networks – word of mouth referrals will always be one of the strongest forms of marketing. Awareness: Ensure your core messages always relate back to your brand’s unique selling points, whether that’s a luxurious country retreat, value for money stay in the city or a quaint staycation by the coast. People want to understand what you’re all about at first glance of your social pages. Inspire: People want to know what experiences they’ll have whilst staying with you so it’s key that you utilise your hotel’s offering through visual content. Pictures of the view, food, rooms and local attractions and activities will help entice your followers to book their stay. Be careful not to throw too many sales messages at your audience though as this may put them off staying with you. I recommend that the ratio of general posts and sales messages should be 4:1. Make sure the content you post has value to the reader. Influence: Share the positive reviews left on your TripAdvisor and Facebook pages to show your followers what other people have to say about their stay. Reposting guest’s images and videos they have shared of their stay will not only help you create content but it will also create engagement with your followers. Get social Social media is all about creating conversation and sharing content so don’t be afraid to experiment with your posts. Take note of what your followers have engaged with most in the past and think of new ways you can reinvent this idea across your different platforms whether it’s through a blog, Facebook post or tweet. Post frequency is something to bear in mind too as you don’t want to drown your audience as this may cause them to unfollow. I have found that posting at the following frequency has helped increase Custard clients’ engagement rates: Facebook: 1-2 times a day Twitter: 4-6 times a day Instagram: 1-2 times a day If you want to learn more about how to utilise social media as part of a bigger content marketing strategy, then give our Custard MD Petra a call on 01483 740 747.