Easiest way to consider social media: It’s isn’t a revenue generator. You need to disrupt the booking process to create revenue – so ad spend, articles, etc. But social media is a telephone, and luxury guests *DO* use it. So instead of investing any time or labor or dollars into social spend, you simply need to exist in that space. Set up the FB, set up the twitter, etc… and only set up initiatives that will absolutely be handled and managed properly, thoroughly, and with constant follow through and vigilance.
The main thing? –
Your hotel social plan should go like this, and after “this”, you shouldn’t have to spend to much time figuring it all out:
Yelp and Tripadvisor: make an account to respond to reviews. This is the most important thing in the social space.
Youtube: make an account, post as many videos you can get your hands on. Nothing more than 3 minutes, and even 20 second like videos are perfect for room tours, etc. I put this above G+, but I sort of have a sneaking suspicion that Youtube will one day roll into G+ in some manner.
Google Plus + – merge your local listing with your hotel page. use G+ as a blogging platform, because all those awards, content, blogger adulation, etc is meaningful with search terms, and anchor into organic search, therefore people who don’t know the name of your brand may just find you due to simple google searches. It’s been on the rise, big time… and it is more important than any other social. I would consider G+ as the clearing house for any and all content for your hotel. Pictures, awards, links, articles, conversation, etc. It’s only going to become more important. The “photo carousel” in google search that now shows up is populated in order by your zagat /google review ranking (as well as quantity), and the pictures are populated from your G+ page…. so it’s more important today than it was a week ago. Set this up immediately.
Facebook and Twitter: create account not for marketing, but to answer questions as they arise. Social sites as a telephone, and not a billboard: You don’t need to call your guests 3 times a day talking about your hotel, but if they call with a question, you should be available to answer. Don’t think of it as marketing, but concierge work. One of our AGM’s and I don’t *really* get why people ask questions on FB or Twitter (instead of calling and getting an answer immediately), but we have given up asking why and are simply just available to ask questions. Twitter and FB should be at the front desk, so it can be answered in a timely manner. But we don’t even really post on FB anymore, because it’s all self congratulatory spam, and looks caddy – specials, discounts, offers, or sad attempts at creating and rallying community that doesn’t really exist around the hotel. Twitter is more important than FB, but you need your FB too. I think one of the reasons people don’t call is because they are passive, and calling would be an active expenditure of energy, that would also require further action. “Do you sell that spa product”, or “Do you sell that robe” is something you can ask passively over social, and deal with in your own time… but calling would give an immediate answer, and then you would actually have to perform an action, like get out your credit card, etc. I think people just want to be passive and act on information on their own terms… sort of like why people are always dodging calls nowadays. They rather respond to information on their own terms. A little too much philosophy there. Twitter for your sales team would be wise, as well… to search out groups, business time leads, etc. It’s a great space to network in….. and the more employees you have representing your brand, retweeting, etc, the better. We all need to get off this idea that you can hire one social media manager to manage content and social. It takes a team of thousands to create relevancy and a successful plan of attack to influence the social sphere. You need many, many people in the trenches. One person won’t cut it. Eventually, all employees will be active brand advocates, which will signficantly increase your hotel’s online footprint and relevance. But one person with one camera and one social account won’t make a successful social plan for the hotel… all the employees, all their cameras, all their social accounts is what will create success. Yes, old school “manage the message” marketers are sitting in horror at the thought- that fact doesn’t escape me.
Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr: don’t move into the space unless you can do it successfully, with a luxury lifestyle brand. Think Standard or something hip that has photos to constantly post. If it isn’t hep, engaging, and a “voice”, it’s meaningless and a waste of time. 99% of hotels shouldn’t worry about it too much, but maybe make an account so you can go and search who is posting about your property. What’s worse than not paying attention to these microcosms of the social realm? Doing so in a poorly executed, inconsistent manner. There is nothing quite so annoying when someone calls you on the telephone, and you don’t know if anyone will respond on the other end.
Foursquare: I am still trying to figure out how to successfully leverage this. There’s a bunch of potential here, but sometimes people are creeped out when hotels try and engage them. Watch it, and respond to those linked to Twitter…. but don’t offer these people discounts so much as value adds. There’s a wonderful program called flip.to that starts to leverage this cycle of “brand advocates” in a meaingful way, with obvious ROI.
Tumblr: used to be important, but moot in light of G+. Post on G+.
I know I am missing a bunch… what do you guys think? What is wrong? What needs to be added?