Best Social Media Optimization Practices for Hotels
AI drives data from social media profiles, search, and more
In a world driven by social media consumers, savvy social media optimization is essential to drive ROI. When employed right, social media can boost direct bookings by attracting the right audiences. But a well-developed social media presence is also critical as the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) on smart devices will draw upon data gathered from social media networks too as much as it will rely on original hotel sites, metasearch, structured data, and so on.
To illustrate this point, Facebook’s City Guides rolled out quietly earlier this year. These are basically destination pages redesigned to feature places visited by friends, favorite attractions, and recommended places categorized by activity: eat, drink, sightseeing, hotels, and shopping. The interface is highly visual, designed to perform well on smart devices, so it will be essential for hotels to publish outstanding images on their Facebook profiles to capture the interest of the community. Plus, hotel listings are displayed with review scores, Book Now buttons (which drive direct bookings), and the occasional review excerpt when relevant. A map allows users to see the hotel’s location in relation to other listings.
Screenshot from Facebook’s City Guides
Screenshot from Facebook’s City Guides
Facebook’s AI engine DeepText, which is designed to “understand with near-human accuracy the textual content of several thousand posts per second, spanning more than 20 languages,” is another tool that draws from Facebook social media profiles to serve users with content that is relevant to their interests. For example, the new Facebook Recommendations uses DeepText to understand what the users are looking for. Questions and answers are then analyzed, and Facebook adds additional details to their recommendations like reviews and addresses, which later appear on a map that can be saved for later use. And there are many other potential applications for DeepText, all depended on, as the name implies, TEXT. Content.
Similarly, Google Assistant, “your own personal Google,” searches the Internet to gather data that will help in engaging in two-way conversations with users to help them find information about certain destinations, plan flight itineraries, find a suitable hotel, make reservations to restaurants, give you directions from your location to wherever you want to go, access your Google calendar, and much more.
AI entities like DeepText, and Google Assistant, which will get brand-new features soon, are the likely megatrend of 2018 and they are the proof that social media and search matter now more than ever. If you ignored optimizing your social media profiles and public post updates in the past, this is the time to turn the page. Here are some powerful tips to help you enhance your social media presence to stand out among competitors and to attract more eyeballs.
Create content that converts
There are several ways of creating content that converts, including storytelling, posting challenging survey and quizzes, sharing fun facts and trivia, disclosing insider’s tips about a certain destination, and the list goes on. When you plan a content strategy, you must define your goals and a distribution calendar based on several criteria, including seasons, the best time to publish, topic, and so on. The goal is to build an audience ready to engage with you, to talk about you (as in brand ambassadors), and to drive direct bookings, either by booking directly, or by recommending your hotel to friends, family, and followers.
Uploading random updates is no longer wise, except for instances when you count on last minute bookings. Ideally, you will inform your followers and potential clients of seasonal offers a couple of months before the season begins. If you look at online retailers, they start advertising for Halloween as early as August, for Black Friday in September, for Valentine’s day right after the New Year’s, and the list goes on. This gives buyers enough time to plan their purchases by saving money for the purpose.
Extrapolating, you have to allow your followers on various social media platforms to plan ahead by serving them relevant content and updates that are designed to trigger their fancy without sounding like sales ads. Because, unlike retailers, whose purpose is indeed to sell, as a hospitality professional your purpose is, in fact, to be the ideal host. You must remember the people in everything you do.
Therefore, when you compose your content for any social network, you have to do it as if the guest is in front of you, talking to you directly. You must deliver emotional content that inspires the visitor not only to travel but to trust you enough to choose you over your competitor.
See what type of content performs best
In an ideal world, hoteliers should choose qualified copywriters and social media strategists for this exercise, but in the absence of resources to employ third-party agencies or in-house experts, there are always excellent tools, albeit costly, to help the DIY-focused.
The Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule is an excellent tool to help you write “headlines that drive traffic, shares, and search results.” They even provide a “tearsheet” to help you choose the words that convert best for your headlines. CoSchedule is basically a content marketing calendar with excellent collaboration tools and powerful analytics. It integrates with WordPress, allowing you to schedule posts on several social media profiles at the times when they perform best. Then, based on analytics, you can refine your content marketing strategy. There are four plans available, each including a free 14-day trial to give you an idea about the platform.
Then, BuzzSumo’s Facebook analysis tool helps you research Facebook to discover the most successful content based on topic, headline, and format. You can also see what makes a specific Facebook page perform, showing you “the most engaging content for the last 6 months or the last 24 hours,” depending on the time-frame of your choice. Note that BuzzSumo is used by brands like Expedia and National Geographic, which is a testament to its value for the hospitality industry. But the Facebook Analyzer tool feature is only available for their Large and Enterprise plans.
To illustrate what types of content delivers excellent results, here are some examples to inspire you.
The gimmick used by Charleroi Hotel in Belgium to amuse guests turned into a social media sensation when their guest, Rieke Gorter, posted a photo on Facebook to illustrate their €3.50 a night ‘RENT-A-FISH’ special. In this case, the “content” was delivered on social media by a guest with Klout, but it became a social media sensation, the perfect example of content that converts.
At the other end of the spectrum, Centro Hotels by Rotana counts on an online competition to convert. A classic strategy, this type of content counts among the top deliverers because it generates buzz, not only via social media, but also in industry-specific traditional publications like magazines, news sites, and blogs. It inspires the community to engage, comment, share, and participate, which is the best type of ROI you can gain from a social media campaign, besides direct bookings.
Storytelling campaigns that produce an emotional connection with guests are also a good way of creating content that converts. An example comes from the #SuperBreakfastMoments by Radisson Blu, which, according to Marie-Laure Blaise, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s senior marketing manager, aims to show “that the best travel moments begin at a superb hotel, but they all start with a Super Breakfast,” since the “breakfasts have always been an attraction for guests.”
Use the camera as often as possible
Since Facebook launched Facebook Live, many marketers used the platform to engage with customers in real time. Statistics show that live streaming is the most engaging strategy on Facebook, with people watching Live videos 3x more than they watch traditional videos. Perhaps because live videos humanize a business. They appear more honest, and they allow the viewers to ask questions or to make comments in real time. Hotels can use the Facebook Live feature to offer room tours, for special events, to show the destination, to answer guest questions, to make special announcements, and so on. For tips and best practices for Facebook Live, you can always count on the official pages. Facebook focuses hard on video. They are also testing data-friendly instant video on mobile, which only means that they will continue to concentrate on adding more camera-heavy features that can help you create engaging content to keep your followers, current guests, and future guests interested.
* Infographic Credit: https://boldcontentvideo.com
Since the Facebook algorithm displays Live videos at the top of the newsfeed, other posts will perform less, but they are still needed to keep your community engaged and interested. Even social media images need optimization to deliver. Social Media Today advises creating different images for each social network, as some that perform well on Facebook, for example, would generate less interest on Pinterest, and so on. But it is also important to know that social media networks keep updating features and layouts to respond to user needs, to leverage ad space, and so on. You should keep up with these changes, updating your profile images and cover photos as soon as necessary. For the 2017 social media size cheat sheet, see Mainstreethost.
Facebook envisions a world without screens by 2026, and they are trendsetters. Early adopters can gain a lot from following the lead of the world’s top social network. There’s already a lot of promise in Facebook Spaces, which is an interactive virtual reality environment launched in April 2017, where users can share trips, tips, live VR video, and much more. It’s still a beta product, but the applications for hotels and hospitality are evident, as Facebook Spaces already boasts in VR countless “360 videos and photos that can transport you to new places” and lets you “explore things that interest you from people and Pages you follow.” Also, note that by 2060 hotels will embrace “augmented reality, artificial intelligence, morphing beds, robotics, touchscreen interface, hyper-connectivity, neuro-dreaming, and more.”
Which social networks matter for hotels?
As a hospitality pro, you should meet your guests where they are, so the simple answer to the question which social networks matter for hotels is all of them. While being consistently active on all of them is a time-consuming endeavor, hotels should consider at least the top five to optimize with consistently branded profiles, and timely, fresh, customer-centric content. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the most important for reach and engagement. Google Plus is powerful for SEO, and Pinterest is great to drive direct traffic with each breathtaking image shared and linked to your site. Some hotels manage to engage successfully on all these five networks, while others are better on Facebook and Instagram.
Whatever you choose, make your content count. Focus on the people, your potential guests: when do they like to travel, what would they like to see, is there any particular local dish they would like to try, do they want experience and adventure tours, do they have pets, do they travel solo, you can ask as many questions as you like. They will answer. Include their feedback into the experiences you provide when they arrive at your destination, and you will soon see the effects of the best practices for social media optimization: happy guests who turn into enthusiastic brand ambassadors driving even more direct bookings simply by recommending your hotel to friends, family, coworkers, and peers.