Amanda J Dennis | Social Media: But Mom, Everybody’s Doing It!
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Social Media: But Mom, Everybody’s Doing It!

Advertising and Promotion budgets are tighter than ever these days and hotels are searching for ways to effectively and efficiently market their hotel without breaking the bank.  The internet has been the go-to channel for years now.  It has been an effective tool, especially for independent hotels, because of its ability to level the playing field with franchised competitors.  One web-based channel, however, continues to completely flummox us:  social media.

Oh, we think we understand it.  Facebook page?  Obviously!  Twitter account?  Got it!  Videos on YouTube?  Of course!  FourSquare?  Yep (well, sorta).  On closer inspection, do we really have it covered?  Or are we doing it just because everyone else is doing it?    

Take a look at most hotels’ Facebook fan pages.  What do you see?  Most have simply substituted the Facebook page for their bulletin board.  The page is used for posting specials and, maybe, discussing the weather, but little more than that.  Facebook was designed to be a social network with interactive communication.  Want to see someone doing it right?  Check out Nick Hotel in Orlando.  Their wall is truly interactive with many more guest postings than “administrator” postings.  Promoting a special is much more effective when your guests are telling others about it.

Next, Twitter.  How often do you “tweet”?  And more importantly, what are you tweeting?  Do you have your Facebook account and your Twitter account linked?  Last May, Hyatt launched a Twitter-based “virtual Concierge,” a 24/7 customer service Twitter account.  Pretty cool stuff!  And I know what you’re thinking: “It’s Hyatt for goodness sakes.  We’re just one hotel.  We don’t have the manpower to do that.”  True, Hyatt has dedicated employees specifically for this promotion, but give them credit for creative thinking and launching a truly effective way for their Tweeters to communicate directly.  How imaginative can you get with your Twitter account?

Ah, YouTube!  It’s the world’s most popular online video community with over 2-billion video viewings per day.  YouTube gives you the stage to catch the attention of an extremely large number of people through viral marketing.   All you need are entertaining, well produced, innovative and inspired videos.  Don’t have the budget for that?  Be creative.  Contact schools who have film classes…check out intern programs…barter.  And don’t forget to create your own YouTube channel and playlist. 

Foursquare and other location-based services are extremely popular among the younger crowd.  Why?  Maybe it’s because they have been a connected community for as long as they can remember.  Nevertheless, if you want to target this market segment, this channel can work for you.  Foursquare describes itself as a “friend-finder, a social city guide and a game that challenges users to experience new things and rewards them for doing so.”  And what’s in it for you?  Foursquare has made it easy to connect with your customers using foursquare “specials”:  discounts and prizes you can offer your loyal customers when they check-in at your venue.  They even provide self-service tools to help you get started.  Need more ancillary revenue from your hotel’s outlets?  What are you waiting for?

Social media is a constantly changing world.  Dedicate the time to learn more about it so that you can choose the sites that will have the most impact for your hotel.  Gud luk on yor way 2 bn d NXT social (*).

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