Do's and Don’ts in Social Media for Hoteliers
Now that conversations about social media have moved from the break room into the boardroom, we increasingly find more interests from clients in incorporating social media as a part of their overall brand strategy. The following is a list of Dos and Don’ts that reflect our most current thoughts.
Do start with one strategic goal. We find the lack of goals common, even amongst mature marketing organizations. Social media has become such a hot topic that some companies have plunged in without asking themselves why they're doing it. Without goals, there is no unified direction. The consequence is that resources are allocated towards activities that don’t move the needle. Our advice is to start by selecting one specific goal that you want to achieve. For example, pick one of the following: increase awareness, extend the brand experience online, reward loyal customers, or add a new customer communication channel. Optimize your activities for that one goal as a start. When you get good at it, you can consider adding other goals. Also, ‘being where your competitors are’ is a bad starting point. In social media, ‘me too’ does a lot of harm quickly.
Do set the right metrics. This is the #1 success factor. Proper metrics not only monitor how well things are going, but orient your staff towards the right engagement behaviours. For example, a lot of hoteliers measure success by the number of fan “Likes” on their Facebook page. This is wrong. You can get a lot of people to like a page without much engagement (or, to be exact, where they engage with the brand exactly once – when they clicked on the Like button). These are similar to email contacts you have in your mailing list who never open a piece of email from you. A better metric in this case might be the response rate on your posts, and also how often people post on your Wall (if you let them).
Do attract quality fans. Quality fans are the ones who mirror your target customers. With over one billion people in social networking services, most hoteliers should have the goal to build a fan base that reflects their target market mix in age, gender, and location. This is what we call fan base sculpting, because you’re trying to keep the mix balanced to reflect your actual and desired business. For international hotels with substantial local F&B business, it almost always calls for a different strategy to target local diners versus global travellers. And any hotel that has a diverse market mix will have to look into each local market's social networking services if it wants to attract quality fans in certain markets (e.g. China, Russia, Japan, Brazil).
Do invest in the basics. Before a brand even does anything in social media, they must nail the basics. And that is to have systems and processes in place to monitor what’s going on, and people who are accountable for responding to complaints and making operational improvements. A large part of every brand’s social media strategy should be focused on training. And the training should increase the competency of all heads of departments in dealing with social media. A quick litmus test for General Managers is how many collective hours and people it takes for your staff to resolve and respond to a negative comment about your hotel on TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Twitter. The closer it gets to one hour and one staff member, on average, the better.
Turn to the next page to read the list of things hoteliers shouldn't do with social media