People turn to social media to dream and plan future vacations. A study by Internet Marketing revealed that a whopping 76% of people post vacation photos to social networks. What users like, follow, share, and scroll past on their social media feeds heavily influences all aspects of their travel plans, including where they choose to stay. As an innkeeper, implementing a successful social media strategies can help to capture this ever growing market. Social media can help you reach new clients, connect with customers, fine tune your brand, understand your competition, and even boost your direct bookings.
The reality is that social media is no longer just a fun side project. It is a serious part of your marketing efforts. However, you can’t excel across all social media platforms. It is important to focus your efforts. When it comes to hospitality, not all platforms are created equal. Give yourself a break and stop trying to master Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, SnapChat, and whatever else is out there. Here is where you should be focusing your efforts.
With 2.83 billion users worldwide, Facebook is still the big daddy of the social media world. According to eMarketer, more than half of the U.S population (that’s 169.5 million people) used Facebook in 2018. A lot of those users are posting about travel. The Internet Market study showed that 52% of Facebook users said their friends’ photos influence their travel plans. Facebook strongly influences where people travel, how they spend their time there, and what type of accommodation they choose to stay in.
All innkeepers must have an up-to-date and fully optimized Facebook page. If you don’t, crawl out from under that rock and get one, now. Use your Facebook account to post high-quality photos of your property, share important information or updates, answer customer service questions, promote your blog posts, and stay in touch with past guests. Remember that your followers can re-share your posts, helping you to reach an even wider audience.
With more than 400 million users and growing, Instagram is quickly becoming one of the most powerful social media tools on the Internet. A 2014 study from Forrester Research found that Instagram delivers 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 more than Twitter. In terms of getting people to like what you post, Instagram is the way to go.
Images inspire wanderlust. By sharing beautiful photos of your property and destination on Instagram, you greatly improve your chances of inspiring people to stay with you. In addition, Instagram is a powerful way to improve brand visibility and maintain relationships with past guests. According to Hootsuite, about 65% of Instagram users are aged 18-34, so if you worry about connecting with millenials and reaching a younger audience, adding Instagram will most definitely help. Even better, Instagram is streamlined, easy to maintain, and free. If your still wondering if Instagram is right for you, check out our blog post Does My Hotel or Bed & Breakfast Need an Instagram?
Use Instagram to showcase your local area, highlight your breakfasts, take viewers behind the scenes, and capture those special little moments in the everyday life of an innkeeper. For more information on mastering instagram, read our marketing tips and tricks from Bend-based Instagram influencer, Kourtney Barish.
Twitter isn’t nearly as essential for innkeepers as Facebook and Twitter. Because so much of travel inspiration centers around images and video, Twitter’s 140 characters likely won’t win you many new guests. However, Twitter is a great way to quickly send out up-to-date information to your guests. You can use it to promote upcoming specials, announce new updates to your property, and warn guests about things like weather conditions or road shutdowns. You can also re-share interesting or informative local content. Be sure to monitor your mentions and respond to any positive or negative posts.
Featuring video on your website can transform your marketing efforts and boost your direct bookings. Video provides potential guests with an even more immersive preview of your property and gets them imagining themselves there even quicker. Here’s a few interesting stats:
- Adding a video increases the likelihood of your site appearing on the first page of Google search results by 53 times.
- 80% of users will watch a video versus just 20% who read text of the same content.
- People are 10 times more likely to engage with and share video content, helping your video (and website) to reach more people.
The best way to include video on your website is by creating a YouTube account and then embedding those videos on your home page or a special “Video” page on your site, like the Kandahar Lodge has done above. However, this YouTube account isn’t something you need to maintain regularly. Having just a few videos up there should be more than enough for your purposes. For posting shorter, more spontaneous videos, take advtange of Instagram Stories and Facebook Live.
What About Google+?
Well – perhaps you’ve been living under a rock. Google+ has been rather pointless for a while and Google actually officially shut down Google+ earlier this year.
Focus on Your Google Business Listing
For the purposes of this article – your options are rather limited on Google Business in terms of it being a social media outlet. However, your Google Business Listing is more important than ever and there are a few things you should do:
Do a Quick Social Audit of Your Website
Do you have links to your social media profiles on your website? Those little icons for Twitter, Facebook, etc.
I should say I’m surprised about this but I’m not anymore. I REGULARLY find that those links are broken on websites.
- Don’t link to a “dead” social account. You know – that Twitter account you haven’t posted to in 3 years? Don’t link to it. Just take it down. I don’t recommend you delete those accounts (you don’t want someone else to have your handle), but you can make them private or you can put up a ‘final’ post that says to follow you elsewhere and link to your more active social account
- Replace your Google+ link with a link to your Google Business Listing
- Your social links should not be super-prominent on your website, and you don’t need a Facebook widget on there showing your latest post or anything like that. These are a distraction. Once you’ve gotten someone to your website – don’t give them a reason to leave to your Facebook page! Having social icons on your site is great – people can find them if they really want to, but the goal of your website is to get someone to book. They can’t do that when they’re looking at their friend’s baby pictures on Facebook.
Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to master all social media platforms. Focus your efforts on Facebook and Instagram and only worry about Twitter and Youtube if you have the time. By creating a focused and streamlined social media strategy, you will build a devoted following, improve your brand, and drive direct bookings.