Written by: Joe Emerson // Nov 12, 2019
Last updated: Jan 17, 2023
People in the hospitality profession trying to boost business through social media but without an understanding of how to use those tools might as well be carpenters trying to drive nails with the handles of their hammers. There’s a lot to learn about digital platforms and how to use them, so let’s begin with 10 social media marketing tips for hospitality professionals.
Social Media Marketing Was Simpler in the Paper Age
There was a time when papyrus was the cutting-edge social media. Lots of limits, but fairly easy to master. The driving force of post-paper-medium social media is real-time communication on myriad platforms with global capacity. Not so simple, and mastering it is getting more complex as the nature of the digital beast morphs from organic to pay-to-play.
An example of connecting organically is somebody posting something online about your widget. “Great hotel rooms! Spectacular dining!” The post gets attention, perhaps going viral. Your widgets start flying off the shelf. In the pay-to-play era, algorithms driven by ad dollars are pushing eyes to other people’s posts about somebody else’s widget, dulling your organic edge.
That means you’re going to have to pay to play and win the lucrative digital game; still, the most rewarding game is going to have to include an effective organic element.
Putting a project management professional in charge of winning the digital game, someone who can build a team that understands social media and knows how to employ all available tools, is a good plan. Not in your budget? Studying project management and social media marketing could put you in the game if you don’t have a PMP on staff.
Short of those approaches, or in unison, you could consider implementing some of these 10 social media marketing tips.
10. Use Social Media to Make Interactions with Customers Super-Easy
A great example of a social media application is a quick-click booking option on your Facebook page, perhaps paired with a dinner-reservation function for in-house or nearby restaurants. And yes, there are apps for that.
Digital customer-service options are legion. American Express shares tips on using social media as customer-service tools:
- Use social media to allow customers to respond and interact, from complaints to praise. In essence, “make them feel as if they’re having a conversation with your company.”
- Use social media to deliver useful messages about what you have to offer. Don’t advertise, inform.
- Use social media as a bridge from the online to the brick-and-mortar world: Promote an event for business prospects and potential customers. Connect irate customers to business reps by phone, email, or in person.
9. Outline Your Social Media Strategy
A marketing strategy needs a defined goal and an understanding of the target audience. Beyond that, it’s about tools (social media platforms), what each tool will be used to accomplish, tactics (email campaigns, online service links/interactions, even a contest), and measurable outcomes.
8. Use Facebook as Your Social Media Hub
This tip’s straight from Unamo, a blog focusing on search engine optimization and inbound marketing tactics:
“Think of Facebook as a hub for your social profiles and website content – a place on social media where everything comes together…. Plus, all your content should cycle through Facebook – especially if you have a blog. The idea is to give users access to as much information about your hotel as possible in one location.”
7. Use Social Media to Identify Your Customers and What They Want
Preoday, which helps food and drink businesses enable customers to order and pay online, says, “At the moment, the hospitality industry generally does not know who most of its customers are, or how best to contact them.”
Social media enables hospitality providers to capture data about customers, and the digital interaction provides a wealth of information, from complaints and kudos to recommendations.
6. Present the Same ‘Face’ on All Your Platforms
You know who you are, and you don’t want to confuse existing customers who think they know you. Potential customers could come away confused if you present in flashy fashion on, say, Pinterest and go for a staid presence on Instagram. Consistency matters.
5. Make Sure to Maximize the Visuals
Instagram is among the best platforms to get your look online, and your Facebook landing page is another place to show your best face, right down to the best size for your on-page logo.
Brand24 makes some interesting observations about pictures:
- Seventy-six percent of travelers and 96 percent of millennials post trip pictures, and Instagram is a great site to display user-generated content.
- Hashtags are a big thing on Instagram, and Hashtagify, RiteTag, and HootSuite are great apps for tracking hashtags. (Be sure you have a branded hashtag, too)
Jumper Media stresses the importance of action versus “pretty” in the images you post. Show them the lovely setting, but focus on what they can do there.
4. Don’t Overlook Real-Time Service-Related Uses for Social Media
Twitter is a great example of a platform designed for real-time engagement with customers. Social Media Today notes that Twitter enables quick and efficient staff-customer exchanges for interactions such as changing room requirements for a booking.
3. Be Smart When You Pay to Play
Organic pushes to your offerings are a big part of the game, but buying ads on social media is a must. The trick is to ensure you’re using each platform to maximum effect. Visuals? Go with something like Instagram. Narrative? Easier to tell a story on Facebook.
Jumper Media concurs. Under the heading “use ads the smart way,” the social media marketing company shows how a hotel uses a carousel ad to great effect.
2. Put Real Thought and Effort into What/How You Present
Make sure you put quality stuff in the digital ether. Posting things that bore or turn off the audience will lower your organic impact and negatively affect your algorithm-driven presence.
1. Pay Attention to What the Competition Is Doing
Sure, you want to blaze your own trail, but make sure your path is taking you somewhere as good as where Brand X’s strategy is taking it. It’s easy enough to spy on them.
Ready to learn more strategies to improve your hospitality business? Have a great candidate for Hospitality Leadership training?
See what the Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education is offering, from test preparation to our Hospitality Leadership Program.