If you were to go around your hotel, chances are most of your guests would have at least one social media account.
Nearly 4 billion people worldwide are on at least one social media account, led in large part by younger generations that are now becoming key drivers in hotel bookings. Now more than ever before, social media plays an integral part in the booking journey. According to a 2019 study, 86% of people became interested in a location after seeing content on social media. Add in pent-up demand from the global pandemic in 2020 and social media has only become more important. A study from Motel 6 found that three-fourths (76% to be exact) of 2,000 respondents said scrolling through social media in the last 12 months has made them want to travel more.
As a hospitality marketer, you know your hotel should be on social media. But choosing the right social media channel mix and putting together a strategy comes with challenges. To guide you in the right direction, here are five strategies to take into account.
1. Play to the strengths of each social media platform
The first thing to remember when putting together a social media strategy for your hotel is that not all social media platforms are created equal. From Facebook to Instagram to Twitter and everything in between, the most popular social media platforms put your hotel in front of different audiences and should have different strategies associated with them.
Let’s look closer at what platforms should be part of your hospitality marketing arsenal.
The entire goal of social media marketing is to be where prospective guests are, and there is no doubt that Facebook is a leading contender. The social media giant boasts 2.85 billion monthly active users, spanning a large age range. While the largest age group on Facebook is 25-35, seniors are the fastest-growing demographic with 45% of Americans age 65 and older now on Facebook. Your hotel has numerous options to reach Millennials and Generation Z across social media channels, but reaching an older audience through social media is best done on Facebook.
How to use it: Facebook has a variety of tools for hotels to take advantage of. With your Facebook page in place, be sure your hotel is responsive to both comments and reviews. From there, Facebook is one of the primary drivers for travel inspiration as users learn about destinations and hotels from friends’ photos and videos. Encourage Check-Ins through your page and take an active approach to post both photos and videos to your page showcasing everything from the atmosphere to the rooms.
Instagram has now passed 1 billion monthly active users, and its audience skews young. If parent company Facebook is the all-encompassing social media channel, Instagram is prime for hotels to target younger generations. As of April 2021, 31.5% of Instagram users were between ages 25-34 followed by 22.9% between ages 18-24. That means more than half of Instagram users are under 35! According to Instagram, 90% of its users follow a brand on the platform and 80% use it to help make buying decisions.
How to use it: First, make the switch to an Instagram Business account. This more official account offering comes with several benefits including the ability to list an industry, schedule posts, post links within stories, get actionable data, and more. What should you post? Photos, photos, and photos with some videos scattered in. Instagram is all about the experience for travelers. Post-scene-setting photos of your property, nearby attractions, and food. Build a story that makes prospective guests want to experience it for themselves. Some other tips: Use the Stories feature to post photos and videos that live at the top of the app for 24 hours. And don’t forget the hashtags.
Most marketers focus their attention on Facebook and Instagram, and those social channels are priorities, to be sure. But hotels shouldn’t stop there. A big component of the hospitality industry is business travel, and LinkedIn boasts more than 750 million business professionals on its platform. If you’re looking to reach a B2B audience, it’s worth making LinkedIn part of your hospitality marketing strategy.
How to use it: The first thing to remember is you’re going after a different audience on LinkedIn. These users skew older and are looking for more professional content. Focusing on the benefits a business traveler is looking for is essential. You should also be focusing on business planners as a key target audience. How can your hotel help with their next conference? Why is it a prime destination? Show off both business features and conferences through photos, videos, and anecdotes as the business audience is likely looking for actionable information to make decisions.
Twitter can be a tricky social media channel for hotels to master and it usually isn’t a very big driver in bookings, but it has its place in your social media strategy. Twitter has more than 330 million monthly active users who send more than 6,000 tweets every second. Those two numbers explain why Twitter’s role is what it is when it comes to marketing. There is a large user base to target, but the platform moves so quickly it can be difficult to capture attention and draw users to your hotel website.
How to use it: While posting on Twitter should be part of your plan, the platform is much more geared toward customer service. Many businesses use Twitter’s Direct Messages feature to allow users to reach a customer service representative. With hundreds of millions of users sharing their opinion, it’s also important to monitor complaints and be responsive. When it comes to posting, schedule tweets throughout the day, and don’t be afraid to send out the same link multiple times. Hashtags can also help with discovery.
All the rest
Other social media channels might be right for your hotel including Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok. With Pinterest, your hotel can create photo boards for different topics, posting photos for weddings on one and food options on another. YouTube allows you to post an immersive video or virtual tours. And TikTok allows you to reach one of the youngest audiences on social media with short-form videos.
2. Understand your hotel’s target audience
Before you dive into posting across all of the social media channels, it’s important to first understand who your target audience is. Some of this information will be instinctual based on the makeup of your guests (business vs. leisure, etc.), but you should dive deeper into the data available to you to make sure you’re reaching the right audience with appropriate messaging.
If your hotel uses a tool like Google Analytics, you can look at your website analytics to see what percentage of visitors are in each age range and the gender breakdown. This can give you a better view of your current audience and inform your strategy. While Facebook covers the spectrum of users, some social media channels are better tools than others depending on your audience. If your data doesn’t point toward your ideal target audience, that’s important to know too. You can build a strategy that properly goes after the audience you desire.
3. Optimize your social media pages and profiles
It’s never a bad idea to audit your social media accounts and optimize them. Go through all of the account details — especially your hotel’s name, address, phone number, and website — and make sure all of the information is accurate and up to date. Then, make your way through the profile and follow some of these tips to stand out:
- Upload a high-quality cover photo that showcases your hotel’s personality
- Write a clear, concise bio that encapsulates your hotel’s brand
- Include brand-related hashtags and keywords when warranted
- Check your photo tag settings — you don’t want to be spammed
- Cross-promote your social media channels
4. Engage with guests and prospective travelers
While you might think of social media as an outreach marketing tactic, for hotels it also clearly serves the purpose of brand reputation management. Social media is all about sharing experiences, and travelers will share both the good and not-so-good.
Hotels need to have a review response strategy, not only for Google and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) but also for social media channels. Responding swiftly and professionally shows that your hotel cares and takes issues seriously. The reviews can also help with your hotel’s internal feedback loop. Bad reviews aren’t fun, but according to TripAdvisor, it pays to respond as 85% of users agreed that a thoughtful response to a bad review improved their impression of the hotel.
5. Post, measure, repeat
Achieving marketing success on social media isn’t an exact science, but you can head down the right path by creating a clear and consistent content strategy. Consistency is key as users like frequent posting and it’s easier to build an audience when there is new content on your page and in the newsfeed. But coming up with a schedule, setting it, and moving on isn’t enough. Before you embark on a social media strategy, you should set clear and achievable goals so there is something to measure against. Then, use the data from the social media channels to see what is and isn’t working and make adjustments.
Social media marketing, particularly in the hospitality industry, can be a key driver in brand awareness and eventually brand loyalty. It can be daunting to put a strategy together, but the payoff can be notable when done right.