Did you know 3.8 billion people all over the world actively use social media each day? Hoteliers can’t afford to miss out on this huge audience. The challenge is to know what the best hotel social media platforms are. That way, you can actively target the right audience, the right way, without wasting budget. Here are key platforms to consider as part of the best social media strategies for hotels.
Why do hotels need social media? When it comes to digital marketing, social media is an essential investment for hotels for a variety of reasons.
Social media is incredibly visual
Many social media platforms work extensively to create a highly visual experience for users. People respond to video most strongly. Text-based messages about your hotel’s amenities simply won’t create the same visceral response as a stunning sunset photo of a couple having cocktails at the pool. Or a video walk-through of your spa experiences. And social media platforms are designed precisely for this visual experience. Instagram in particular exploded over the past couple of years, and having an Instagram video strategy is essential.
Social media tells people who you are
There are many powerful ways to use social media to boost your brand. Users increasingly turn towards the platforms to do consumer research, to communicate with businesses, and to get recommendations. 95% of adults use social media to follow brands, and buyers tend to spend 20-40% more on brands they interact with on social media. It also pays in terms of developing word-of-mouth recommendations, with 71% of consumers likely to recommend a brand they have had a positive experience with on a social media platform to friends and family.
Social media helps build relationships
Today’s consumers want relationships with the brands in their lives. This goes back to when we’d visit local businesses where everyone knows your name. Social media allows brands of all sizes to create this kind of personal relationship with consumers. This, in turn, fosters loyalty and creates brand activists. Thanks to social media, you can chat one-on-one with your customers. There’s now a more informal way to share your values, projects, plans and more with like-minded consumers.
Social media adds value
Consumers want to feel like they get value from their relationship with a brand. That doesn’t just mean discounts and perks, although social media is prime territory for marketing offers. It also means adding value to daily life by making them an extended part of your family.
Through social media, you can send useful information directly and personally to every customer and follower. For example, share the recipe for one of your most famous desserts, advice on staying safe while travelling, or information on events in your local area. The possibilities are endless. And, in return for sharing this information, you gain followers, trust, authority and brand awareness.
It shows you are relevant and up to date
Businesses not on social media run the risk of seeming out-of-touch with the needs of today’s consumers. It’s a red flag for most consumers, especially those in the Millennial and Gen Z generations – your up-and-coming travellers. It directly affects the perception of your business as something that is relevant and that caters to their needs.
How to Connect with Your Customers and Audience Using Hotel Social Media Platforms
There are a surprising number of social media platforms. But only a few deliver the best results for hotels. Here’s what to prioritise when you want to make your hotel social.
Love it or loathe it, Facebook is a social media marketing powerhouse and a branding force to be reckoned with. Facebook has 2.45 billion monthly active users and 74% visit the site daily. With affordable advertising tools, integration with other social media platforms and an aggressively powerful algorithm, the platform actively drives your search for customers, gives you the ability to create and manage all kinds of campaigns (including live video), and supports the media that hotels love best – imagery and video.
Facebook is very versatile for the hotel industry. Some of the best ways to use the platform include:
- Create and share events.
- Create online advertisements for specials.
- Live stream marketing content like tours of the hotel, events, cooking classes and more.
- Communicate directly with customers to answer questions, make bookings, solve issues, etc. You can even implement a chatbot to handle routine queries.
- Share useful content on promotions, local events, tips, advice, insights into your latest projects, etc.
Check out the SIXTY Hotels boutique hotel group’s Facebook page. They leverage many components on Facebook to get the most out of the platform.
Instagram is owned by Facebook. There’s no surprise it’s as feature-rich and appealing to brands as its bigger sibling. However, Instagram has several great features that Facebook doesn’t. This makes it one of the most powerful hotel social media platforms. Importantly, it has much greater appeal to younger consumers. More than half the world’s Instagram users are 34 or younger. It’s used almost as frequently as Facebook too, with 60% of users logging on at least once per day for an average of 53 minutes in total.
It’s a great platform for brands that want to increase their market exposure. 83% of users discover new brands on the platform and 81% say they actively use the platform to find new brands and products. It’s also an influencer powerhouse platform. If you plan to introduce influencer marketing (one of the best social media strategies for hotels, hands down), into your business strategy, then Instagram is the way to go.
Here’s how hotels can best utilise this platform:
- Influencer marketing.
- Gain followers through hashtag exposure.
- Affordable paid advertising options/sponsored posts.
- Have a series-based campaign through Stories.
- Competitions and partnership marketing.
- Showcase professional, influencer and consumer-generated visual marketing content.
Take a scroll through the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel Instagram account to see why it’s one of the most-followed hotel accounts in the world.
YouTube is quickly gaining ground as a less traditional marketing platform. Owned by Google, this platform is the world’s second-largest search engine. It’s worth paying attention to from an SEO and content marketing perspective. Around the world, people watch 1 billion hours of video a day there. Brands thus have two ways to reach their audience. One is curated content that you produce for your own channel and the other ads that play on other channels. Because of its relationship with Google, this platform is also important for SEO. Videos now regularly show at the top of Google search result pages.
How can a hotel take advantage of these benefits?
- Long format video content – tours of your facilities, VR tours, events held at your hotel, tours of popular attractions, staff spotlights, cooking or cocktail demonstrations, etc.
- Paid advertising – Target short ads to your most valuable segments, using the powerful algorithm to align your ads with other interests that your market shares.
- Optimized video content that boosts website SEO ranking.
- Posting content on relevant YouTube channels (travel channels, luxury travel channels, etc).
Currently a favorite for larger hotel chains, boutique hotels can easily join a list. Take a look at how this worked for London’s coolest boutique hotels.
With TripAdvisor, reviews for hotels and travel research reached a whole new level of importance. The website consistently ranks in the number one position for travel and tourism sites worldwide. 1.2 million hotels as well as 136,000 destinations are ranked and reviewed on the site where 77% of world travellers go to plan their business or leisure travel. The site has a $5 trillion influence on the global travel economy. The power of this platform for the hotel industry is clear.
While it’s mostly thought of as a review website, TripAdvisor restructured itself as a social media platform since 2018. So, how can you make it work for your hotel?
- Claim your listing – This puts brand representation power into your hands, allowing you to respond to comments (good and bad), update details about your hotel and even receive analytics on hotel performance on the platform.
- Update your information – Have you hired a new chef? Remodelled your rooms? Added wedding or conferencing facilities? Remodelled to become eco-friendlier? Whatever you’ve done or changed, you need to reflect this on your listing, so guests know what to expect from their experience.
Take a look at what the 414 Hotel (the #1 listing on TripAdvisor in New York) is doing to get some inspiration.
Many people view LinkedIn as a professional network. It’s not the first platform you’d consider when planning the best social media strategies for hotels. However, the platform’s strengths – specifically professional networking – perform a complementary role to the visually-rich experience a hotel can offer on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. LinkedIn is where your business networks. It puts your brand in touch with 675 million members in more than 200 countries.
Here’s how hotels can use LinkedIn:
- B2B marketing – Connect with events companies, wedding planners and conference organisers to show them how your hotel can manage their event.
- Grow your brand – When every staff member has a professional LinkedIn profile showcasing your hotel, your brand awareness grows with every professional connection they make on the platform.
- Refine your offering – Source and discover professionals who can grow your brand, from hotel marketing specialists and hotel vendors to new staff.
About the author: Colin Hannan is a Principal at Proven Partners, a hospitality consultancy that specializes in helping hotels adapt and reposition for more effective growth. Colin combines a wealth of hands-on development and operational experience with deep marketing knowledge to support Proven’s hospitality partners on their growth journeys.