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How social are you? And how social do you want to be?

For most hoteliers I come across, social media is yet another annoying external influence they now have to consider.

Gone are the days when we printed brochures, placed ad’s in newspapers or placed a sign above our door.  Now we need to be accessible at all times, communicating constantly and most importantly, we have to be ‘relevant’. So which social mediums should we be on and how on earth will we manage everything? And of course there are quite a few to consider.  Not only the tried and tested Facebook and Twitter – what about Instagram, Pinterest, SnapChat, YouTube, Google +

This is the first of a series of blogs aimed at helping you through the maze of social media…

First of all, it is better to be active and successful on one channel than mediocre on 5 and knowing this will only come with experimentation. You also need to be very aware that social media should be used as exactly that and not as a sales tool.  Customers get very bored if constantly bombarded with sales messages so keep your content engaging and if possible, keep that engagement ‘two-way’. (More help with this on our next blog). But for now, lets look at two of my favourite channels – Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook

Social media is changing all the time. Take Facebook for example. Its demographics have changed considerably over the last year. Not so long ago, every teenager and 20 something was active on Facebook but now honestly, it is not seen as the cool place to hang out anymore.  Younger users are moving away and Facebook is being left to the over 35’s it seems. To test this theory for yourself, glance around at your friends and family or even the guests in your lobby.  I can pretty much guarantee that the people whose noses are firmly plonked in Facebook will be over 35, so perhaps your posting and efforts on Facebook should reflect that.

Talking to some ’20 somethings’, the chat was that they are also moving away from Twitter as it is becoming too commercialised and all the Celeb’s are leaving and moving to SnapChat. So basically watch this space as the next 6 months will tell a very different story to social as we know it now.

Instagram 

My advice is to look to Instagram.  Not a new channel as such but this is definitely picking up momentum and if you aren’t playing in that space you are losing a trick.

Just to explain how Instagram works… Your guests can snap away and post images of your hotel which are then ‘tagged’. Then as a new customer you can search for ‘X Hotel’ on Instagram and you will instantly be presented with dozens if not hundreds of images uploaded by either the hotel or their guests.

As a hotel you can monitor these tags and you have an opportunity to respond and comment.  I recently checked a hotel I know very well and they had been tagged by a guest with over 5000 followers, but they missed a trick and didn’t comment – opportunity lost.

You can of course add a stockpile of your own professional images but these should be supplemented with images you take on your phone – so less professional shots which adds a perception of ‘honesty’.

Graphics posts should be kept to a minimum and multiple images designed on Layout or Canva are a good idea.  These apps will allow you to add images in a poster effect and should be used occasionally.  Layout and Canva are free apps on IOS and Android and you can also download a PC tool at www.canva.com – this makes adding images really simple and easy.

But like all marketing, you need to remember that each social media channel requires a certain ‘tone’. Facebook and Instagram are definitely more ‘chatty’ and relaxed but whichever channel you are interacting with, please remember to stay  ‘on brand’.  Be careful who posts on these channels on your behalf as remember this is the perception you are presenting to your guests.  Make sure that colours used, images uploaded and text written reflect who you are and for goodness sake, please make sure it is spell checked!

More next week….