The service industry is better placed than most to exploit the brand and business development opportunities offered by social media. If you’re a business in the hotel industry you’re especially blessed, because every day hundreds of potential advertisers walk through your doors – provide them with a service that exceeds their expectations and you can be sure that they’ll soon spread the word.
But the world of social media can be tricky to navigate – handle your approach to marketing the wrong way and you’ll quickly find yourself pilloried by an army of keyboard warriors eager to stamp your efforts with the dreaded ‘fail’ hashtag.
With that in mind, here are 10 key points to consider when devising your social media marketing strategy:
1. Know your target audience – if you’re trying to attract pensioners to your hotel, social media is probably the wrong way to go about it. If you’re keen on targeting a particular section of that demographic, do your research, find out their wants and needs and set your strategy accordingly.
2. Know your message – once you’ve selected your target audience, you need to know what you want to say to them. Are you going to highlight how cheap your rooms are, or focus on the unparalleled luxury of your suites? These choices will depend on your target market, but mixing your message is a sure fire way to ensure that it gets lost in the ether.
3. Know your medium – a YouTube video isn’t the best way to respond to customer feedback, (you want Facebook and Twitter for that) but it is the best way to showcase your redesigned bar area. Make sure you use the right medium for your message.
4. Know your brand – if you’re a hotel renowned for luxury and discreet service, genial tweets and kooky Facebook postings are going to damage your brand image. Make sure that your communication method matches your brand.
5. Search engine optimisation – If you’re a hotel in central London, make sure that your hotel’s website contains those words, this increases the chance that when someone searches for a hotel in central London, your website will pop up.
6. Go wide – it’s easy to get sucked into thinking that Facebook and Twitter are the only social media sites that matter, but there are hundreds of sites out there, all with rapidly growing audiences, so try to get your message onto as many as possible. If you get in early, you can reap the benefits if a site takes off.
7. It’s not one way – don’t treat social media as a device that enables you to stuff your message down as many people’s throats as you can. It’s about opening up a conversation with your customers, listening to them as much as you’d expect them to listen to you.
8. Know your enemy – take a look at what your competitors are doing with their social media presence. Is their approach working? If so you might want to adopt a similar approach, if not make sure you understand why.
9. Apps – A good app can bring in a ton of business, especially if it makes it easier to make bookings and enquiries. If you’re targeting a younger crowd you may want to consider creating an online or mobile game – it won’t bring in as much direct business but it will be well worth the spend in terms of raising brand awareness and increased revenue down the line.
10. What’s on offer? – If there’s one thing that’ll get customers attention it’s a good offer. If you’re offering reduced room rates, tell your Facebook friends and Twitter followers – you can be sure they’ll tell all theirs. Even once you’re all booked up your brand will be on every bargain hunter’s lips (and computer monitor).
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