Seven smart social media marketing strategies for hospitality

Colin Hannan, principal at Proven Partners, a hospitality consultancy firm, outlines seven top tips for enhancing social media marketing.

The great irony of social media is that these platforms were built to facilitate connection, yet they’ve left us feeling isolated and given us a real life need for human connection. Nowhere is human connection more ensconced than within the hospitality industry, where warm and attentive service is an underlying expectation. So social media for hospitality is an intriguing area that offers many valuable opportunities for hotels and hospitality businesses.

To help get the most value from your social media marketing, here are some key tips.

Make your business meaningful

We’re living in a world torn asunder by a global pandemic, against a backdrop of political divisiveness and an ever more urgent climate emergency. People travel to escape their everyday stresses, yet they also look to support businesses that align with their values. Social media is an ideal platform for hospitality businesses to showcase their values in action, and an increasing number of hotels around the world are utilising their social media to show the meaningful sides of their business.

In Zimbabwe, Singita Pamushana Lodge uses their profits to fund the reintroduction of rare white and black rhinos, in addition to efforts to maintain and sustain the local environment. At the Rockhouse Hotel in Jamaica, they use a portion of their profits to help renovate local schools in addition to offering mentorships to train teaching assistants. At 11 Howard in New York, proceeds from minibar sales support Feed, a charity providing healthy food for kids around the world.

These stories generate exceptional online engagement and create immense goodwill amongst followers — an extra upside to incentivise community collaboration.

Build your business a personality

The world is filled with boutique hotels that boast great design and beautiful views, so it’s important to find something that can make your hospitality business really stand out in a social media user’s clogged travel feed.

Improving social media marketing means giving your account and your business a splash of personality. This means focusing your hospitality marketing on the fine details of what makes your business different from all the rest, and generously posting this content alongside a mix of your regular social media content.

Are you the greenest eco-friendly hotel in the region? Do you have signature high teas or cocktails? What is unique about your location? It’s this kind of detail that brings your hotel to life, helping you stand out from the sea of competitors. A great example of a social media feed with a lot of personality is the Museum Hotel in Turkey which blends culture, adventure and romance with stunning design and food and beverage experiences.

Be quirky, be human

If there’s one thing everyone dislikes, it’s the international customs and screening process. Yet the TSA Instagram account is one of the top-rated accounts on the entire platform!

With an almost absurd mix of adorable dog pictures (explosives detection dogs), mind-blowing confiscations, dad jokes and poetry (yes, poetry — you read that right), this account has won awards for being one of the most interesting, weird and wonderful accounts out there — not what you’d expect at all from a government agency.

Take this account as inspiration for adding a little element of humour and silliness to your account, giving your audience access to your business’s more off-beat, human side.

Develop a multi-week programme

It’s important to create and stick to a content plan that will do your brand justice. If you want your guests to get a well-rounded idea of what your boutique hotel is all about, you should work with a plan that gives your viewers an even spread. It can be as simple as a weekly plan (Monday is a beautiful view, Tuesday is community based, Wednesday is food-focused, Thursday showcases a member of your team, etc).

This doesn’t always have to be followed rigorously, but it does help ensure that you aren’t posting too much on one topic and leaving out other content that interests your guests. Take a look at the Instagram account of Babylonstoren in South Africa to see how a good spread of themed content can really capture all that your boutique hotel has to offer.

Focus on the destination

Globalisation has led to homogenisation, which has resulted in travellers craving locally made and authentic experiences. When guests come to visit, they aren’t just there for your hotel amenities — they’re there to explore the destination beyond your doors. As a hub for tourists, your Facebook and Instagram accounts can pull a lot more business to your doors by becoming a voice for what’s happening in your community: from food festivals to cultural events. The Facebook account for the Alexandra Hotel and Restaurant in Lyme Regis is a great example of this.

Remember to target seasonal events as well as calendar days for hospitality marketing like Mother’s Day, Christmas and Pride to draw people in. You can also partner with local restaurants and event managers to create a marketing partnership that benefits both organisations.

Make use of paid advertising

Both Facebook and Instagram offer very simple and affordable paid advertising tools that shouldn’t be ignored. Recent algorithm upgrades mean that your content simply won’t be seen by at least 90 per cent of your followers unless you promote with even a small budget, so committing advertising dollars to your social media is now a fundamental way of life.

They can help you show your content to the people who are most likely to be interested in it, allowing you to target based on their income, location, interests, shopping habits and more. Additionally, it can be much cheaper than traditional advertising, and gives you opportunities that traditional marketing cannot, such as ad retargeting, improved reporting, and — of course — the ability to reach tens of millions of engaged people.

Think bigger

The world of social media has long outgrown Facebook and Instagram, so be sure to assess other platforms to find the opportunities that suit your brand. Pinterest recently topped 400 million active monthly users and, while it’s been traditionally viewed as a great way to access female viewership, male pinners now make up nearly 40 per cent of their platform. It’s no wonder that searches such as “fun couple activities” have increased 30-fold in the last year, and the platform could offer great potential for accessing the lucrative honeymoon markets.

Sites like Quora have the added upside of assisting your SEO while also positioning you as a thought leader in your area, while Twitter can be a great way to engage with bloggers and journalists who can write in more formal publications about your business. Meanwhile other platforms like TikTok, Reddit and SnapChat all have their own huge legions of followers. The trends will continue to change so the best advice is to be willing to test out new avenues to get in front of your market.

With the right strategy and a touch of creative thinking, improving your social media marketing is not only simple — it can be very rewarding too.

This story was originally posted on 6 November 2020 on BoutiqueHotelNews.com

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