Written by Tom McLoughlin –
There once was a time when searching for a hotel would begin by browsing the internet, clicking through comparison websites, or maybe even seeking recommendations from print or television adverts.
Plenty of customers nowadays look to social media when it comes to picking a place to stay.
Whether customers are seeking suggestions from trusted influencers, following travel accounts that share wanderlust-inducing content, or just looking for a brand name they’ve seen before – platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and even Pinterest are popular sources of inspiration.
Establishing a presence on social media is crucial for hotels that want to remain relevant and attract younger customer demographics, especially those in locations where competition is fierce.
A hotel’s online presence is a significant part of what makes it a desirable place to stay, so developing an effective social media strategy should be a priority for brands that want to grow their customer base and gain recognition in the industry.
Whether you’re just starting out with social media marketing or looking for new ways to expand your approach, here are the ten best ideas to include in your strategy.
1. Show Your Face(s)
One of the biggest benefits of social media is that it allows you to show a much more personal side of your brand. It’s even more impactful if you put a face, or multiple faces, to the name of your hotel.
Instead of a very business-oriented online presence, showing real people in your photos and videos will help your followers to develop what feels like a human connection, strengthening their relationship with your brand.
Featuring content with your employees speaking directly to the audience (or the camera) will enhance the effect and provide engaging content to watch.
By featuring employees on your social media channels, your hotel instantly appears more “human.”
Potential customers get an idea of who they will be interacting with and the hotel’s atmosphere if they visit, which can help to plant the idea of making a booking more firmly in their mind by allowing them to imagine a stay.
2. Utilize Short Form Video
Social media users have short attention spans.
Given the vast amount of content available – from all kinds of brands – your hotel needs to ensure that what you’re sharing gets noticed.
Short-form video is perhaps the most popular content format at the moment, particularly with the rise of social media platforms like TikTok.
You can create and share videos on Instagram as “Reels” as well, or even put short clips on Facebook, your website, or in email marketing material to reach a wider audience with this incredibly engaging content.
You can do a lot with short-form video, from hopping on viral trends to conducting mico interviews with staff and customers.
This format works particularly well if you’re hoping to inspire potential customers to visit your hotel or the destination where you’re based. Creating short montages with music that captures a mood or an experience can tap into your audience’s desire to travel or book a night away.
3. Partner With Influencers
Influencer marketing is a fantastic approach for hotels looking to improve their social media marketing strategy.
Not only can it help generate new content, but it also widens your reach to potential new customers and can help improve your brand image by association.
Hotels have many options to choose from when developing an influencer marketing strategy.
For example, you could:
- Offer paid trips to travel or lifestyle influencers and encourage them to share their experiences with their followers.
- Offer the hotel as a venue for an influencer’s event. That way, it can appear in their content and event guests’ content.
- Develop a partnership where an influencer shares several pieces of content directly promoting your hotel and the experience on offer.
- Set up a loyalty program with influencers offering discounted stays when they promote your hotel or create an exclusive discount for their followers.
- Work with an influencer to create and star in an advertising campaign.
While choosing a travel influencer to work with is the most straightforward option, don’t allow your industry to limit you.
Think about your hotel’s target audience, and then find influencers whose followers overlap with this demographic and consider creative ways in which you can work together.
4. Offer Exclusivity
Sharing consistent content across all channels is important on social media, but so is offering something exclusive on every platform.
That way, your followers are encouraged to engage with your hotel’s profiles on different platforms, which boosts engagement and helps to establish your brand reputation.
Exclusivity on social media looks like sharing unique content and offering your followers insight that they won’t get on any other social media platform, which might involve:
- Running competitions.
- Giving sneak peeks into new rooms or facilities.
- Offering discounts.
- Letting followers get involved in designing or picking features of new services.
Not only will you encourage engagement across all of your accounts, but this also creates a greater sense of an “exclusive community” among your followers, which helps to strengthen customer loyalty.
5. Consider Seasonality
Seasonality is something that all hotels tend to consider when it comes to sales, but it’s also definitely something you should factor into your social media strategy.
You’ll likely have different goals based on whether it’s the high or low season for your hotel, so firstly, make sure that the social posts you’re sharing align with these goals and seek to capitalize on peak season interest.
On the flip side, you should also tailor your social content to retain followers or boost engagement at quieter times of the year by offering promotions or spotlighting different experiences to encourage bookings.
Seasonality also refers to the different holidays or annual events that take place throughout the year, which you can also theme your social media content around.
Content themed around holidays or events is more likely to get shared during the celebration and has more potential to go viral, making it a great way to boost your posts’ reach.
6. Be Swift With Replies
Whether you’re active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or even LinkedIn, quickly replying to comments or mentions is very important.
Things move fast in the digital world, and most social media users expect instant gratification or responses.
Replying or interacting with comments on social media might seem tedious, but it benefits your brand in several ways.
First, it helps your audience to feel heard and acknowledged.
Whether you’re handling a complaint or simply offering thanks for a review, replying to your customers will help develop relationships, make your customer service feel more personal, and encourage more reviews.
Replying and engaging in conversations with your followers also improves your brand image in the eyes of other followers that are simply watching these interactions.
If your hotel becomes known as a business that cares about and listens to its customers, you’ll gain a positive reputation and again encourage more interaction. That helps improve your content’s performance on social media.
Finally, being quick to respond to comments or mentions of your brand online helps control the response it gets.
In positive cases, this might mean sharing and making the most of a glowing review from a customer or influencer to boost its reach, but in negative contexts, it also means swiftly solving customer problems and preventing any complaints from blowing up and damaging your reputation.
7. Take Action From Comments
Leading on from that last point, make sure you incorporate a feedback loop into your social media strategy.
Recognizing and responding to feedback is one thing, but taking action is another.
Platforms like Facebook and Instagram give your customers a direct way of letting you know what they think about your hotel and the services you provide, offering an incredibly straightforward process for you to identify what your brand needs to improve.
If you want to grow your following and maintain a positive brand image, you should take action based on what your followers are telling you they want to see.
For example, you might share a behind-the-scenes tour of an area of your hotel, which generates lots of interest and gets plenty of comments sharing approval.
As well as sharing this successful post across your channels, consider making a series of similar pieces of content to capitalize on the interest it generated.
Alternatively, perhaps you’ve received multiple reviews or comments stating that your booking system is complicated or that contacting customer services is unnecessarily difficult.
Instead of just resolving these problems on a case-by-case basis, learn from your followers and change the systems causing issues.
In cases where customer comments have prompted action, it can be useful to publicly announce your changes as a result of feedback, as this demonstrates that you listen to your followers and are committed to improving their experience.
8. Learn From Top-Performing Content
Speaking of taking action, you can also adapt and hone your social media strategy based on which of your posts are most successful.
Analyzing engagement and popularity is the best way to identify what your followers want when it comes to content, looking at metrics such as:
- Engagement in the first few hours of posting.
- Reactions of followers in the comments or replies.
Once you’ve identified successful social media content, pull out specific components that may have contributed to this, such as topic, format, length, or tone.
Then, replicate these components across other content in different combinations to get an even clearer idea of what is helping it perform better and develop an approach to social media posts with a high chance of success every time.
9. Invest In Paid Ads On Facebook And Instagram
When creating creative and dynamic social media content, Facebook may not be the obvious choice. Still, it is one of the best channels to invest in if you want to use paid advertising as part of your hotel’s social media marketing strategy.
Paid Facebook ads get your hotel marketing material in front of users that aren’t engaging with your content but belong to a demographic that is part of your target audience.
It’s a great way to grow your following and improve brand recognition, and can also be a fantastic method of increasing conversions if you decide to use retargeting as part of your approach.
Since the same company owns Facebook and Instagram, you can also use the same marketing tools to create paid ads on Instagram.
The audiences you’re targeting and the style of ads you create will likely be different, but Instagram is another great platform to invest in if you want to increase visibility and drive more traffic to your hotel’s website.
This approach to social media marketing can be expensive if not properly monitored, so consider starting with a small budget and testing different strategies until you find one that brings repeated results.
Facebook is a great platform to do this on because it gives you a lot of data on how well your ads are performing, which helps you to drill down into what needs tweaking and what is working well about each approach.
10. Encourage Trip Advisor Reviews
While it might not seem like a typical social media channel, TripAdvisor is a platform with a vast community of followers that can significantly influence your hotel’s image.
As a hotel, you can claim your listing on the website and then update the details to ensure that you have a profile that aligns with your brand image and looks appealing to users browsing the site.
You can also get analytics for your hotel based on TripAdvisor data, which is very useful if you’re using the site as a key part of your marketing strategy.
Another benefit of being active on TripAdvisor is that it allows you to engage with and respond to the reviews that customers leave.
I’ve already spoken above about the benefits that engaging with comments can bring to your image. That idea is particularly relevant on TripAdvisor, where potential customers will be reading reviews and seeing how your brand responds to feedback and praise.
Social media marketing in the travel industry used to mean posting on one or two different platforms. Now, it’s a huge aspect of almost every hotel’s advertising strategy.
The key to success is definitely using multiple channels to share content and start conversations, but also choosing these channels carefully based on your target audience, the kind of content they enjoy, and the resources you have available.
Providing relevant and valuable content to potential customers will prevent you from wasting time on approaches that won’t have an impact, and maximize efficiency as you develop a successful strategy.
Featured Image: ASTA Concept/Shutterstock