Social media plays a significant role in our everyday lives - it has changed the way we communicate, influencing our day-to-day activities and even the ways in which we travel and see the world. With outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, & LinkedIn (just to name a few), it is easy to see that social media is not just a fad, but is in fact, here to stay. A strong online presence has become a critical asset for anyone looking to grow their business. It aids in brand recognition by increasing your visibility and making you more accessible for new and returning customers.
Learn the Facts
Social media outlets are the best way to really connect with your audience, adding the human element to your business - which is what people are drawn to. According to Hubspot, “92% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses”. Your brand gains more power and recognition as more people talk about it, “like” it, tweet about it, and so on. Your strongest assets are therefore not only your customers, but also your staff, vendors, partners and anyone else your business comes in contact with.
Every interaction on social media is an opportunity to demonstrate your customer service - no longer are phone calls or face-to-face meetings the only way to portray this. This is especially beneficial when the feedback is negative and criticism is involved – because with social media, you can expect there will be a lot of this as well! Formulate an approach to handle such comments, address any issues immediately and publicly, and take action to remedy the situation. Overall, this leads to an enriched personal experience for customers.
According to Hubspot, "over 84% of participants found that increased traffic occurred with as little as 6 hours per week invested in social media marketing” and nearly half of those participants saw a benefit of reduced marketing expenses. The potential for loss is minimal, as it takes very little investment of time and money in order to get involved and utilize social media effectively.
Some Helpful Tips
When it comes to social media marketing, current & relevant content is important. Keep the information flowing to your customers with updates of weekend promotions and events coming soon. Maintain an easy-to-navigate website with quality material, and draw your customers there with enticing contests and “click here to read more about…” tweets. But remember that in the end, “the ‘like’ is more important than the ‘link’”. It is great to get customers to visit your website – they may even book a room while there – however, getting them to like you on Facebook can contribute even more to your long term success. By liking, they are automatically subscribed to your updates, allowing you to communicate directly with them over Facebook. One like by them leads to an endorsement with every one of their friends – and since the average Facebook user has 350 friends, that’s 350 more potential customers you are being exposed to! The same rings true for other social media sites or subscribers to your blog, etc.
Getting people to like your page is all about offering them value - for free. By encouraging traffic to your Facebook page, you will inadvertently increase your likes. Get them to your fan page by offering promos and discounts, access to exclusive content, and for updates on upcoming events. Offering them a reason to like you is one thing, but don’t forget to offer them opportunities to do so as well. Remind them on your website, at the end of every company email, in your hotel’s brochure, on the receipts and business cards you hand out, and on every piece of hotel stationary, just to name a few.
Although most social media networks are free platforms to grow your business, they also offer paid advertising as well. These paid ads make it particularly easy for you to target your specific market based on criteria such as age, income, location, family status, and so on. Facebook offers “Friends of Connections” ads, where you can basically reach new potential customers through your existing fans’ connections and gain the attention of their friends. Your ad is even “endorsed” by your existing fan, showing in the advertisement that they already like your page. Paid ads are effective because they take the guess work out of the equation for you, connecting you directly to those you have been trying to reach in the vast world of social media. (“Likeable Social Media”, by Dave Kerpen)
Make it Work For You
Social media marketing has become one of the most widely used and effective marketing tools of today, reaching larger audiences than any channel before. The opportunities for interactions with customers are endless, through likes, comments, tweets, and so forth. Marketing through this channel is all about creating relationships and offering a personalized service, inevitably building trust in your brand. With people today using social media daily, sometimes spending hours on it at a time – there is no greater channel to reach them through than these networks.
It takes time to get your name out there & spread the news about the fabulous beds your hotel offers, or the gourmet breakfast that is included - but once you do, your business will continue to grow as those happy customers tell their friends, and they go on to tell theirs. And remember, if the customer feels that they have got an emotional connection to your hotel and your brand, they will come back. And for hotels, getting return customers is a main factor in guaranteeing its success.