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How social are you? And how social do you want to be? Part 2…

It seems that everyone has a bee-in-their-bonnet about social media at the moment and rightly so, but before you start running around like a headless chicken trying to decide which channels to be on, ask yourself – how you are going to communicate? who is going to have the responsibility for this time consuming task and where on earth are they going to find enough hours in the day?

You need to be realistic about how much time you actually have to invest and more importantly what your goals actually are.

If you have to start anywhere, then my advice would be to look at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to begin with.  These are the most frequently used channels which generate the most User Generated Content.  If you want to step it up a notch or if you are already managing and measuring these channels successfully, then perhaps it is time to move on to Pinterest, then finally YouTube, Snapchat, Linkedin and Google+

However, as I have said before, it is better to be managing one channel really effectively then trying to manage 5 of 6 poorly.

So what are your goals?

Selling? – If you are on social media to sell, then you are on it for the wrong reasons. Trying to sell a bedroom on Facebook is like trying to flog a washing machine in a bar.  Remember that social media is where people go to ‘hang-out’.  You may entice the odd booking but social media should never be about selling.  If you need to fill rooms or tables in your restaurant then your time, effort and budget would be much better used to fund a Pay Per Click campaign, manage your OTA channels better or best of all, promote your own website.

Communication? – This is a step-up from selling but remember to resist the urge to ‘sell’ and ‘push’ on every post.  Your communication should first and foremost be ‘on-brand’ and if you haven’t a clear idea of exactly what your brand is, then perhaps it would be best to take a step back and work on that first. Make your communication engaging and two-way if possible.  Ask questions and get your followers to engage with you and feel included.

Relationship building? – Social media really should be about promoting your brand and building open and honest relationships.  Please do not use social media like a brochure or an ad and please stop telling everyone how wonderful you are – not an attractive trait in any part of life! And remember that the number of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ if you are giving away something free – for example a competition – are really no reflection on how popular you are.  Those new ‘engagers’ have engaged for one reason and one reason only and that is that they want something for nothing. Best to measure how many people are still engaged a month after you run a campaign – that is a much better measure of success. Remember, running competitions or giving away something for free might be a quick win but it is not an accurate way to measure how popular or engaged people actually are with your brand.  Think back to those days in the playground when you had a bag of sweets to share.  Once they were gone, how many people actually stayed as your buddy? Social media is exactly the same…

It’s all about balance – So okay, it is fine to run a competition now and again but how about posting about your team?  You could have a weekly slot for a ‘day in the life’ of a certain team member.  Speak to your house-keeping staff, your kitchen porters, receptionists and yes, even your GM!  Post a pic and ask 5 key questions about their job.  Customers love that as they feel they are getting to know you and they feel involved.

Why not take some snaps outside?  Show people the view or the weather or perhaps some suggestions of things to do in the area? We talked in previous posts about having something guests could take with them – a teddy (as an example) so that they can post pics of what they and teddy are doing on their day out ( okay, that will work if you are a family orientated hotel but there are lots of things you can do to engage with your guests) – get your thinking cap on!

You can of course promote exclusive Facebook rates.  You can link these to the Book Button on Facebook (providing your booking engine is a preferred Facebook supplier) or a link to a hidden rate on your  website.  This is a great way of engaging and building loyalty.

But best of all, is to stop making this all about you. Why not post about events in the local area or maybe talk about some of your Artisan food suppliers? Take your camera outside and enjoy!

So how do you measure? – The obvious insights are: likes / engagement and reach but is this enough? Well take Facebook as an example.  Facebook are constantly updating their algorithms and right now, if your ‘followers’ aren’t actually actively engaging with you then they won’t see your posts. You will be classed as a business page and you will be ranked right at the bottom of an individuals news feed. Unless you are paying to be promoted, chances are all those lovely posts you are writing aren’t even being seen. As a ballpark – expect between 1 and 3 % of your followers to see your regular un-paid posts.

So who gets the job of ‘social’ – Surprisingly, this may not always be the best job for a sales or marketing person.  It might be but you need to think outside the box.  The perfect person to manage all things social needs to 1) understand your brand and be ‘on-point’ at all times 2) give appropriate representation of you as a business 3) understand great customer service and finally and perhaps most importantly, be genuine.

More next week but my advice to you before you start any strategy is to sit down, have a coffee and think… Think about what you actually do on social media. Think about the posts that you personally engage with.  What makes you push that little button on your mouse and ask for more information? What makes you read on?  You want your customers to engage so give them something worth that second click…

(and if we can help with all stuff ‘hotels’ or ‘revenue’ then contact us at ask@rightrevenue.co.uk)