1. Create and Upload Custom Facebook pages – Facebook allows the hotel to customise the tabs to tailor it to your specific hotel or business. Some best practices to follow while creating Facebook page are:
a. Integrate Reservation widgets
b. Have event pages
c. Create custom tabs to highlight hotel specific items such as meetings and conferences, things to do, etc.
d. Sample Facebook Pages for a hotel
2. Create/ Promote Destination Blogs showcasing local events, news, and specials. Information posted on the blog gets index right away.
a. Example of Destination Blog – http://blog.aquaresorts.com/
b. Example of destination blog â€“ http://blog.rivernorthhotel.com/
3. Search Optimised video
a. Create and promote a search optimised video about your destination, local attractions and upload them on Video Search engines such as Youtube. Youtube is the fourth largest search engine and drives significant traffic.
b. Example of search optimized video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HraOIiqdIn4/
4. Photo Sharing
a. Create a channel or an account on photo sharing sites such as Flickr, Picassa and post hotel and destination photos on the sites. Tag the pictures with relevant keyword phrases. Pictures about the destination that convey information to potential viewers are more likely to produce better results
b. Example: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8209088@N07/
a. Create Custom Twitter Profiles with hotel phone number in the background
b. Example: http://twitter.com/vallartagv
Manage and Promote
6. Integrating and Cross-Linking Channels
Once your channels are set up, it is crucial to integrate and cross network all your channels. Make sure that the social media icons are displayed clearly on your website so that consumers can get to those channels. Cross-link Flickr, Twitter and YouTube to your Facebook account. Integrating and Cross-linking the channels will help you in optimisation, keeping it fresh as well as in expanding your network. Bring live feeds from your social media channels into your website. Example: http://www.nickhotel.com/html/social-media.asp
7. Grow Fan-base
a. Facebook â€“ Be My Friend – Become friends with organisation which are most important for your business
b. Promote Facebook Profile Page – Upload email list of your customers, business associates and ask them to become friends with you on Facebook
c. Convert your friends on Facebook by offering time sensitive specials
d. Network with local organizations and grow fan base
e. Twitter Follow – Stay connected and current by finding out relevant businesses in your area and following them
8. Press Releases and Articles – Using online news channels such as Business Wire and PR Web to release Articles and news information enhances search engine optimisation and web.
9. Create Social Media Reviews Platform on your website to encourage users to upload viral content on your website. Example: http://www.nickhotel.com/guestreviews/orlando-hotel-guest-reviews.aspx
Figure 4 Encourage users to post viral user generated content on your website
10. Monitor Social Media Channels and Review Site
We recommend hotels should actively monitor social media channels and review sites. The success of social media efforts can be measured in many different ways:
– Number of friends & followers
– Social media mentions
– New relevant links
– Track through promo codes
– Google Analytics
– How much interaction
– Who is initiating
– Unique visitors
– Time on site
– Frequency of visit
There are many options available for hoteliers to monitor the social media activity.
a. Analytics â€“hotels can integrate Google Analytics code on Facebook pages, blog pages and track the activity on these channels. In addition, Youtube, Flickr, provide reporting tools that can help you gauge activity on those channels.
b. Using sophisticated social media and reputation management software such as eBuzz Connect. These tools tell you what people are saying about your property on different channels, video views, photo views, etc., and can benchmark your performance month-over-month to determine whether the social media strategies are effective. These tools also help in proactively respond to negative /positive reviews and minimize the risk of not knowing what people are saying about your hotel online. Here is a screen shot of one such tool from Milestone Internet Marketing, Inc. http://www.milestoneinternet.com/html/online-social-media-management-system-for-hotels.asp
Social Media is an integral part of the real-time search algorithm. Social media creates real connection between companies and customers, and that connection equals purchase intent. Ongoing connection and relationship with your customers will eventually turn them into a volunteer marketing army. Make sure that social media is an integral part of your overall marketing plan. If you are limited on budget and resources, still keep monitoring the social media domain and do the best you can. Hoteliers who want to be ahead of the curve, should invest today in the media that is fast emerging as the future of internet marketing.