It’s thought that nearly 50% of the world’s population now uses social media.
As a business owner, that’s both exciting and rather overwhelming. Clearly, there’s a huge audience out there on the digital landscape waiting to be tempted towards your brand, but how on earth do you shout louder than the relentless noise created on these platforms?
In hospitality, the challenge is particularly vivid. A report by SiteMinder has revealed that 52% of Facebook users are inspired by their friends’ photos when booking trips. More significantly, nearly all tourists below the age of 34 turn to social media for suggestions when finalising a booking.
So, how do you make the most of social media in 2021 as a hotelier or restaurateur?
Let’s start by taking a look at what next year holds for this form of marketing.
There are four distinct challenges every brand will need to overcome if they want to make the most of social media during 2021:
Increasing customer expectation: there’s a lot of pressure on brands to be vocal on social, and monitoring your business on social media will be a necessity, rather than a choice as time draws on.
Digital innovation: no matter the size of your business, you need to be authentic, original and forward-thinking if you’re to be noticed on social media.
Awesome content: a social media strategy without awesome content will always fail. Choosing the right content for the right moment is the only way to reach the ideal audience.
Responding to current events: “we’re living in interesting times” has never been more apt, and that simply illustrates how important it is for businesses to create a social media strategy which is flexible enough to respond to current events.
It’s also impossible to avoid talking about the impact COVID-19 will have on social media as we head into a new year. As noted by Social Media Today, Coronavirus content will need to focus on the ‘4 Cs’ (community, cleanliness, contactless and compassion), and it’s certainly not something to shy away from if you’re a hospitality operator.
Social Media Today uncovered some other fascinating data which we think is particularly important for our industry:
social media messaging will become more reliant on memes (this is known as being more ‘memetic’);
nostalgic content will continue to be important (nostalgia mentions increased by 88% during lockdown);
connecting with your audience to drive conversational marketing will drive more sales; and
audiences are likely to be far more socially conscious and aware of global issues (therefore how you tackle them will be of particular interest to them!).
Let’s dive into six of the most important elements every successful hospitality social media marketing strategy needs.
1. A goal (or several)
Why are you using social media as a marketing tool? Sure, we’ve illustrated in this guide why it’s so important, but that doesn’t answer the question as to why it matters to your business.
Defining a clear goal for your social media strategy is the first thing you need to do. And it might be that you have several goals related to each platform you’ll be using.
To help, here are four of the most common goals which businesses use for social media:
- building brand awareness
- generating leads (or confirmed bookings)
- directing traffic to the business website
- building an audience of loyal followers
Take the above and expand on them. What do you want the end result of every social media interaction to be? What KPIs are most important to you?
2. A clear understanding of your audience
Getting to know your audience is nothing new in marketing; it’s just as important for traditional forms of advertising as it is for social media.
You can do this by finding out what their paint points are, what they like, what they dislike and what kind of lifestyle they lead.
This takes time and requires you to engage with your customers more than ever before, but the more you know about them, the easier it’ll be to serve up content which hits just the right spot.
3. 100% accurate profiles
Location-based marketing is particularly important in hospitality, and that extends to your social media presence.
This is why it’s vital that you have an up-to-date, accurate profile. That means correct location and contact information, along with location-based keywords in your profile description.
Treat your Google My Business listing as a social media profile, too, and make sure you have completed all of the available fields the search giant provides.
4. Great content (no shortcuts!)
We noted this earlier, but you really can’t run a successful social media marketing campaign without the right kind of content.
It has to be great content, too. So, you can’t plagiarise others or simply recycle your old stuff (there’s an art to repurposing previous content, which we’ll get into another day).
If you don’t have time to create content yourself in house and have the budget to bring in an expert, it’ll be a solid investment. If you do have the time to create your own content, focus on unique, engaging words and imagery which chime perfectly with your audience (see number 2).
5. Vibrance and activity
An inactive social media profile won’t win many followers, shares or engagement. Unfortunately, far too many businesses set up their social accounts with good intentions, only to leave them dormant for long periods of time.
Instead, make a promise to yourself that you’ll invest time every day (even if it’s only an hour) in your social media presence.
Secondly, make a concerted effort to check for mentions of your venue on social media and respond in a timely fashion (tools like Hootsuite and even Google Alerts will help you do this easily).
6. A keen eye on the metrics
It’s scarily easy to create what you think is a brilliant social media strategy and ruin it by failing to check the metrics.
How are your posts performing? Are you reaching the right audience? Where are those missed opportunities?
We noted a couple of tools you can use in point 5 for monitoring your social media mentions, and those same tools can usually give you plenty of insight into how your content is performing. But platforms like Facebook and Twitter have their own reporting tools built in - use them!
The above elements of your social media strategy are non-negotiable. Remove one of them, and the rest fall apart - it’s that simple.
The good news is that social media remains one of the most enjoyable forms of marketing. If you can’t have fun discovering your audience and serving them content which draws them ever close to your brand, you’re doing something wrong.
Before you go, check out this awesome related read!