I love reality TV. So it’s no wonder that I love social media. In my opinion (and in the author’s opinion below) – social media is today’s marketing vehicle of choice. I kinda equate social media to the popular kid in school (which I wasn’t). You remember the one – the girl or guy who always was surrounded by people, who did the coolest things, knew the words to all the new songs, wore the trendy outfits, and the one that was voted “most popular”.
Social media is “cool” and it is “trendy” – but unlike bell bottoms, this trend isn’t going to go away. In fact, it is just going to multiply, going to grow, and if you aren’t jumping on this bandwagon, you are going to constantly play catch up and/or be left in techno-dust!
I don’t care how old you are or how many year’s you’ve been in the business…. each of us has a responsibility (and needs) to keep current (in every aspect of the hotel business – but that’s another blog for another day!). In the case of social media, we need to identify were we need to be based on current trends and hone our skills accordingly. If NOTHING ELSE, you need to AT LEAST be cognizant with where your competition is and match them stride for stride. The true winners are those who will take the initiative to out-stride their competitors.
Which one are you? Are you happy with the status quo or do you need to take the next step? I think many of us fall into the second category. If you have room in your budget, for a moderate set up fee and monthly charge, I can recommend a social media company that will tailor a campaign to fit your hotel and market. Send me a Tweet! #LindaKomo
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Social Media Secrets
Some of you are still wondering why is social media important. Here’s why it is so critical.
Friday, December 14, 2012
1. How can Social Media help me? Do I need it?
Whether it’s for branding, to reach media for coverage or directly get in front of eligible consumers, social media marketing is an effective strategy for companies/brands to capture users in all phases of the shopping process. In today’s world, consumers demand honest, accurate, timely and engaging information. Long gone is the consumer ready to snatch up anything put in front of them via print ads. Hello publics looking for a deeper relationship with the brands they support. Don’t lag, lead. Here are our top seven reasons why you should supplement traditional marketing and PR with social media:
Branding: You control YOUR MESSAGE. Social channels take you direct to your consumer so you can control 100% of what you say to them. But, as Evision stated in a recent report, “sell yourself (softly).” Meaning, talk about your features and benefits briefly and selectively. Your social content should not be all about you, all the time.
You also control HOW YOU LOOK to consumers. Make sure your brand personality is consistent across all channels.
Brand Awareness: You control HOW MANY PEOPLE see your message and hear about your brand. By tagging and other methods for extending reach, it’s really up to you the number of times your potential consumer hears and learns about you and what you have to offer. With one billion monthly active users on Facebook and over 300 million on Twitter, a brand is not limited to the average 30K magazine circulation.
This extends to journalists. There is no SPAM filter keeping the media from getting the news. If you target an individual correctly on social channels, an article in their traditional media outlet can result as in what happened with a client we pitched to a New York Times columnist on Twitter.
Reach Influencers: Social media influencers do just that – influence consumers to act (e.g. discussion, purchase, recommend, etc). They could be print journalists, broadcasters, bloggers or anyone that others see as a point of reference. And while traditional PR is responsible for reaching out to influencers on their home court (at the magazine, TV station, on the blog, etc.), these same influencers usually congregate together on social media during Tweetchats. A tweetchat is a discussion between a group of people about a certain topic on Twitter, normally following a specific hashtag during a set time. Meet your influencers here and engage with them during the chat. After (and only after) you’ve created a rapport with them, talk to them about your product.
Example: the #TNI (Travelers’ Night In) tweetchat at 3:30 pm every Thursday gathers many travel writers and travel influencers together to discuss a specific travel topic – this is perfect for hotels or travel companies looking for publicity. #Foodchat is another, perfect for restaurants or food brands.
Case in point, for a hotel client who was launching a new campaign, we organized a remote tweetup at the resort specifically around the #TNI travel tweetchat. The influencers who we still wanted to reach but couldn’t travel to attend could follow along during the tweetchat from anywhere in the world.
Build Brand Ambassadors: Social Media can help brands personalize a customer’s experience – in a unique and immediate way – like no traditional platform. The Four Seasons Lanai crafts a unique turndown amenity telling guests to tweet them during their stay. When on property, if a guest posts that they’re interested in dining or going to the spa at the resort, the resort can send them directly to the reservations page. Not only does it make the experience easier for the guest, it gets them to purchase at the hotel instead of next door. The more you engage with a person, the more likely they are to be happy with their experience and SHARE the experience with others.
Reputation Management: Social channels are a convenient way for your customers to give feedback. They also allow you to more easily monitor and respond. If a person goes out of their way to say something about you on social media, they want you to know.
In his book The New Influencers, author Paul Gillin said, “Conventional marketing wisdom long held that a dissatisfied customer tells ten people. But…in the new age of social media, he or she has the tools to tell ten million.”
Don’t give a negative reviewer additional ammunition to continue talking badly about you because you don’t respond. Always respond, and do it honestly. If it’s a review on Tripadvisor or Yelp, positive and negative reviews should be addressed ASAP. Approach negative reviews with a solution, and positive with appreciation. There is nothing like saying Thank You to someone that likes you. That will make them ten times more your brand advocate.
SEO & Increased Traffic to Website: One of the three core elements of Search Engine Optimization is popularity, which is the sheer number of inbound links to a website. Using a shortened URL (that’s relevant) at the end of your tweets or posts will drive visitors to your website. In addition, producing good content naturally attracts back links and social signals (such as Tweets and Likes) that tell search engines that your content is popular with actual beings, further building up your site’s credibility for the crawlers.
Sales: Promotions, discounts and other selling tools are extremely well received on social channels. It’s the number one reason people like a page/company/brand. Flash sales generate the immediate need to buy.
AirAsia used social media to sell over 800,000 tickets in a 48-hour period.
Expedia saw 70,000 incremental bookings on their site over a 60-day period because of their Facebook page and promotions. They also saw the average time users spent on their website rise by 156%, according to data provided by Compete.
2. How often do I need to be on social media?
Simple answer: every day. Every day you should be monitoring discussion on your channels. See you later snail mail. Customer service is 24/7. If someone poses a question, they expect an answer almost immediately. And, going back to reputation management, reviews need to be replied to ASAP.
When it comes to disseminating new content, it depends on the channel. One should not post on Facebook every day. The #1 reason for un-liking on Facebook is “cluttering the newsfeed.” Carefully craft your posts, and space them out, to engage your consumer without annoying them. On the other hand, Twitter is a channel you should be publishing from at least several times a day.
3. Who should do social media for a company?
An outside agency should be used at the very least to help brands/hotels create a social media strategy and set up channels. However, a dedicated employee in-house (ideally a concierge desk or marketing person) needs to be involved on the ground level to provide the in-depth information necessary to effectively engage consumers consistently. There is no replacement for an agency that knows strategic techniques to engage new users and grow channels. All the time I see Facebook pages or Twitter handles that do a great job of posting good content about themselves, but when I see someone not tagging (to extend reach to attract new audiences) or varying content (to increase engagement to generate more brand advocates), it’s clear that the “social media manager” is just an additional component to a current employee’s job.
4. How long does it take to show results?
WOW images can create overwhelming responses immediately, but to create true brand advocates a good six months should be expected.
5. How much does social media marketing cost?
Social media marketing is the most cost-effective marketing solution for brands today. Depending on the channels selected and the level of involvement (setting up, strategy, day-to-day monitoring, engagement) of an outside agency, social media campaigns can start as low as $1000 per month. Compared to the costs of traditional print advertising (up to $50k for a one time ad), it’s a steal!
6. What is included in a typical social media campaign?
There is no cookie cutter campaign model for companies or brands looking to embark on social media. The components of a social media strategy should be reflective of the type of company and its business objective. Whether its brand awareness, website traffic, sales or strictly reputation management, the social media channels used will be different.
Social Media can yield many valuable rewards, including increased sales, but always remember the true nature of social media is engagement and creating brand advocates.