If there is one thing you can count on, it’s that social media marketing is constantly changing. Over the past three years that I’ve been in hospitality, I have seen many different social media channels pop up and disappear. Taking the time to research which platform was worth investing in was not easy because I knew that some would work and others wouldn’t.
For example, Facebook has been successful in growing the audience reach and awareness of The Grainary Farm Stay and Tea Rooms, not only on a local level, but a national one as well.
With carefully constructed competitions, events, and “like & share” campaigns, we were able to grow our audience from 100 likes to over 8,000! Plus, around 60% of those followers are engaged. From there, we created a VIP Facebook Group to piggyback off of the general group. It currently has over 300 members and does a great job spreading an even deeper awareness of the happenings at the farm.
Examples of platforms that were not effective for us are Snapchat and Periscope. However, they helped us to understand what social media channels are best for our business.
For nearly five years now, I have been testing every social media app that comes around, so with this experience, I want to share with you five ways that you can improve your social media marketing in 2018.
The most significant change to social media marketing in 2018 is, without a doubt, LIVE VIDEO. In 2016, 14% of marketers experimented with LIVE video, and you can be certain that in 2018, this figure will increase.
Facebook is investing a ton of money into the concept, as are Twitter, Instagram, and most other social media channels. None of them wants to fall behind.
This should make you stop and think: “How can I incorporate LIVE video into my hotel’s marketing?”
Here are three examples:
- Interview a guest or staff member on LIVE video
- Show off the latest dish at your hotel’s restaurant
- Stream a LIVE event on your Facebook page
The possibilities are endless! The beauty of LIVE video is that because it’s so new, Facebook’s algorithm gives preference to LIVE video. This means that your LIVE video may be the first thing someone sees on his or her Facebook feed.
Don’t worry about the quality of your video. Just get some content out there to increase engagement. All you need is your smartphone and something interesting to share.
I experimented with a LIVE video for The Grainary last year. I set up a sign in the Tea Room that explained how watchers could enter a competition. To do so, they had to “like” and share the LIVE video. The reach and engagement of the video was one of the greatest that our page saw in 2016! It also resulted in Tea Room bookings and event bookings from the competition we were running. What I’m saying is to have fun with it! Experiment and see what results you get.
Pay to promote your content and have it be seen. It is critical for you to take a step back and examine what people on Facebook see and don’t see. If you post a great photo of your hotel or guesthouse and you only get one like or comment, then people are clearly not seeing your photos.
It’s not your fault. Keep in mind that at the end of the day Facebook is a business. If you are also a business and you want to get exposure on their site, then you need to give Facebook some money!
There’s a stat out there that states that only 3% of your posts are seen organically by your followers on Facebook. That means that if you have 100 fans, only 3 of them will see what you’ve posted!
Here’s how you fix that. Post the week away, varying your content format widely. For example, post a photo one day, a news article the next, and so on. Come the end of the week, see which post has had the most “likes” and comments. Once you figure that out, promote that piece of content.
NOTE: Make sure to not just hit the “boost post” button. That’s the lazy way of working with Facebook, and they love that. The results are disappointing, I promise. Instead, invest an hour of your time and build up an audience through Facebook Ads Manager. (I have written more about this strategy in more detail here.)
Promoted posts and native advertising allow businesses to target a specific audience, ensuring that the right people see your posts. By paying for it, you can be reassured your posts will show up on your target audiences’ feed.
It doesn’t matter whether you use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Snapchat to do your social media marketing. You just need to be posting content that resonates with your audience.
For example, on The Grainary’s Facebook page, we love to post photos and videos of the farm dog, “Lollie.” We do this because anyone who has visited the farm knows Lollie. She is always there to welcome you with a wag of her tail. We are appealing to our audiences’ emotions. When they see a photo of Lollie, they remember the good times they had on the farm. Lollie represents this to so many people that we’ve actually had requests for Lollie to have her very own Facebook page!
It’s time for you to think, “Is what I’m posting going to appeal to my audience?” If you just go and share something that the local council or news site has posted, will people care? Similarly, if you post a 5-star review from TripAdvisor, will people care?
Instead, think a little differently. Could you post a video of the view from your property, a photo of your delicious breakfast, and maybe a video explaining how you make it in the morning?
At the end of the day, if you’re struggling for ideas remember this: People don’t log onto social media to buy stuff. They go on to see what friends, family, and loved ones are up to. They are there for the social aspect. So don’t bombard them with last minute special offers. Instead, show them something friendly that they will want to interact with.
Get those “likes,” comments, and shares.
The final two tips will become more important as the year progresses. I’m predicting this because I’ve noticed a significant shift of focus to both of them. So, I think it’s important I touch upon them here.
Businesses spend thousands trying to get their name out there when there is a free tool right under their noses: their STAFF! I spoke earlier about how only 3% of your posts will be seen by your audience. Well guess what? Your staff’s personal accounts will get a 100% reach! A photo, post, or share from them will expand your business’ audience.
First, make sure your staff love working with you and at your property! (That’s a given, I hope.)
TIP: Try this, start up a private Facebook group for staff only. Encourage them to add photos and videos, to interact, and propose content ideas for the business page. If you involve your staff, they will not only respond, but will feel some ownership for your business’ marketing decisions.
Of course, keep an eye on what they are posting, but overall this has had a positive impact on people I’ve worked with in the past.
Customer Service Chatbots
You’re going to hear more about Chatbots throughout the coming years. A Chatbot is an automatic message response set up on your social media platforms and/or website.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but fewer people are picking up the phone and speaking to each other nowadays. I don’t understand it, but I don’t have to. Instead, I just embrace it and think about how my clients can benefit from it.
I find that people are more likely to message via Facebook than by email. This is why you have to be on your phone, checking your messages often. A quick response rate will bring more profitability, turning those messages into bookings.
However, as we all know, time is of the essence. Imagine, it’s the middle of August and you have full rooms. An extensive checkout and check-in are about to happen. Do you have time to sit watching your phone and respond to every notification?
No, me neither.
That’s why Chatbots exist! Chatbots can guide customers through completing a transaction, answer a question, or point people in the right direction. They offer fast one-on-one service without the need for additional employees.
Plus, your customers will be a lot happier when their problems are solved right away. Chatbots are set up to automatically respond to a question posted either on your website or your social media channel.
The technology at the moment is very new, so instead of investing in it, I recommend that you keep an eye on it.
If you want to speak in more detail about anything covered, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.