It’s almost july 2015. Social media as we know it has now been around for the best part of a decade. And the hotel / travel industry is finally waking up to its potential. Slowly putting resources behind it, updating Facebook and Twitter pages and even trying more adventurous alternatives like Pinterest and Instagram. But they are not getting the expected results. If some have accumulated thousands of followers, engagement just isn't there.
The biggest mistake a lot of hotels make is not to take social media as seriously as they do with other communication channels. Just because it's 'free' to play doesn't mean it doesn't require strategy, creativity, hard word and commitment and investment down the line.
So here's some reasons why this strategy doesn't work, in no particular order:
- No integration: quite often, updating these pages is the responsibility of the most junior member of the team and / or community manager who has no marketing visibility and limited business experience. As a result, most of these efforts are wasted with bland and trivial posts that add no value to their audiences, and do not achieve anything meaningful to promote the hotel's experience.
- No strategy: who are we trying to reach? What do they want? Engage with? How are we going to offer something different? Happy go lucky used to work in the infant days of the medium, no users are bombarded with high quality content. Even their friends are producing better quality content than most brands these days. Why should they care about you?
- Lack of strong visual support. Social media is a visual game. Most of the social community managers are offered no budget to create appealing content to support their updates. Smaller hotels may even turn to do-it-yourself strategies resulting in poor visuals that will harm the hotel brand in the long run. Remember; everything communicates, everything’s findable.
- Lack of creativity: social media is a very competitive place. Competition to appear in your audiences' newsfeed is huge. Reformatting press release, or showing the same pictures that already appear on the website won’t cut it. Only by creating content they haven’t seen before, entertaining and innovative content can you stand out of the crowd.
- Lack of channel knowledge: each platforms, Facebook included, has many different ways to boost your reach and engagement. Do you know what works better? Videos or pictures? Links or updates? Vertical images or portraits? What time of the day is your audience online? Which day? How frequently? Optimising your social media as you go along will help you improve your reach and engagement over time.
- No budget. Facebook is now pay to play. Meaning you have to spend a little money to grow your community and get your posts seen. You wouldn't expect your ads to appear for free in a magazines, same applies here. Just because it's free to put it out there doesn't mean it will be seen by anyone. Most probably, it won't.
- Lack of guidelines and consistency: a lot of the content we see is quite often all over the place, either visually or in tone of voice, and quite often, both. Hotels need to develop a clear tone of voice and visual identity. Each post individually needs to be individually recognisable.
- Content is just plain boring: being unremarkable is the worse thing that a brand can do online. How can you be memorable?
- You are trying to be your audience's friend. You are not here to engage your audience on what they have done last weekend, which band they've enjoyed most at Glastonbury (unless you happen to be a hotel nearby!) or who is going to win Wimbledon. Just because they are big topics that capture the nation's interest doesn't mean that you need to, unless it's relevant to your hotel.