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A Hotelier’s Guide to Social Media Updates June 2016

By Alex Gaggioli, June 9, 2016

Introduction:

Social media sites change often these days. Each platform is constantly competing with each other for users’ attention, and often that’s good for consumers. A lot has happened in the past six months and we want to make sure you’re aware of all the changes. Many of these updates will help your property win the social media game and stay ahead of the curve.

Facebook

Facebook Logo

Facebook has released a number of important updates in the past six months. They’ve created new features and made their ad platform more powerful than it already was.

Facebook Live

Facebook live allows users to produce a live video stream from their phones. The video feed then appears in the users’ timelines if they follow that individual or business. Prior to April, only certain people and businesses were able to use Facebook Live on their pages, but it is now available to everyone.

This update comes just a year after platforms like Meerkat and Periscope, two live streaming platforms, gained popularity. Twitter purchased Periscope, so it was essential for Facebook to create a live streaming platform of their own.

There are many ways hotels can use Facebook Live, whether it’s to do a quick tour of the property, showcase an interesting event, or give local recommendations.

Discovery Tool for Groups

Facebook wants to make it easier for people to discover groups. They’ve created a new tool you can use to find public and closed groups by category, according to Fast Company. Facebook hopes that this tool will help people discover new groups and find more value in them. As a hotelier, you can use these groups to connect with travelers, other hotel owners, and local businesses. If there isn’t a group that fits your needs, create one and build a community!

Dynamic Ads for Travel

Facebook knows how much money travel brands spend with search engines and they want a piece of the pie. Facebook’s dynamic ads for travel allow you to target people who have expressed interest in traveling either on your site or mobile app. They also target people based on what type of travel service they already purchased. If someone buys a flight, but does not purchase a hotel, they can help you target those guests.

While Facebook is targeting large hotel brands with this platform, small to medium sized properties can use their ad platform to target guests. You can learn more about it here.

Audience Network

Facebook’s ad platform now serves ads to more than just Facebook. This allows Facebook to push ads to people who don’t have Facebook accounts. The extended reach is built into the existing Facebook advertising platform, so users will not need to do anything in addition to creating ads.  

Twitter

Twitter Logo

Twitter has struggled to grow in the past few years and has been surpassed by Facebook and Instagram in daily active users. However, they’ve announced significant updates to the timeline for the first time in years.

Express More in 140 Characters

As I’m sure you know, Twitter has a very limited character count. But now, Twitter has made changes to make having a conversation easier and more straight-forward.

Here’s what’s changed

  • @names will no longer be counted in tweet character counts
  • Attachments such as photos, GIFs, videos, polls and quote tweets will also no longer count towards total tweet character counts
  • Retweet and quote yourself! Now you can retweet and quote tweet your own tweets. This allows more people to see your content
  • No more “.@’. Currently, if you start a tweet with @, only people who follow both accounts will see the tweet. If you wanted people to see the tweet you would have to place a period or other character before the @. Now, any tweet with @ at the beginning will be shown to all users. However, replies to the tweet will not.

These changes reflect a broader change with Twitter. They are finally listening to widespread criticism and making changes to fix their product. Hopefully in the coming months we’ll be able to report changes that will drive more people to the platform.

Instagram

Instagram_AppIcon

Instagram has had a good couple of years. Their user growth is strong and now have more than 400 million active users. I strongly believe every hotel, hostel, bed and breakfast, inn, and other accommodation providers should be on Instagram. You can read more about that here.

The platform has undergone massive changes in the past two months, and we’re here to highlight them.

Newsfeed Algorithm

For the first time ever, the Instagram news feed is changing. Since its inception, the feed has been in chronological order. Now, they’ve implemented an algorithm, much like Facebook’s, that shows users the most relevant posts to their interests. Users still only see posts from other people they follow (alongside the occasional ad), but they no longer appear in chronological order.

This represents a huge shift in the platform’s usability. While I’ve personally found it useful, Instagram has received a lot of backlash for the change.

Dynamic Ads

Instagram announced their ad platform awhile ago and now they’re adding more features. They just announced dynamic ads which will help promote products (i.e. rooms and other amenities) on Instagram after they’ve visited your site.

Business Tools: Profiles, insights, and promotion

Finally, Instagram is giving businesses the ability to track their analytics. Facebook, who owns Instagram, has a fantastic insights platform and I look forward to diving into Instagram’s business tools.

Here are the three new features available to businesses:

  • Business Profiles: free feature that adds a ‘contact’ button (call, text, or email), get directions, and unlock access to insights and the ad platform
  • Insights: get analytics about followers and posts, all within the mobile app. We will be able to learn more about users’ behavior and make actionable changes
  • Promote: You can now promote posts within the app on existing posts, much like the boost post function on Facebook. It allows you to specify an action such as “sign up” or “buy now” as well

A Flashy New Look

Instagram went through a major design change in May. The iconic camera logo has been replaced with a much simpler camera outline and a new color scheme. Many people were outraged, but we’ll get used to it after awhile. You can see the new and old logo below.

Instagram before and after logo change

Source: Instagram

Instagram also changed the color scheme within the app. They’ve stripped it of color and now it’s a black and white color scheme. A before and after images are below as well.

Old instagram interface vs new instagram interface

Source: Techcrunch

Snapchat

Snapchat_Logo

Snapchat does not report their own active daily users, but Bloomberg recently said they crossed the 150 million threshold. The platform continues to innovate in ways that other platforms cannot. They’ve remained true to themselves and are making it easier for people to share than ever before. I’ve previously written about how hotels can use Snapchat, and you can check that out here.

Here are some of the recent updates:

Chat 2.0:

In late March, Snapchat updated their chat’s functionality. The main difference between Snapchat messages and everyone else is that 1) messages disappear and 2) it alerts you when someone is listening, rather than typing. Now, in what they’re calling Chat 2.0, you can text, video chat, send a video, or send one of their new stickers. You can read about it more in their blog post here.

Auto-Advance Stories:

Stories in Snapchat are photo and video timelines that disappear after 24 hours. Users can add snaps and videos throughout the day and add filters, time, speed, and geo-filters. Before, users would have to click through each person’s story and when it was finished they would go back to the main story feed. Now, the feed is continuous and you will automatically start viewing the next story in your feed. This change increases how many total views a story receives because it’s harder for the viewer to exit the screen.  

Redesigned Stories and Subscriptions

A few months back, Snapchat opened up their Discover platform for publishers to produce daily content built specifically for the platform. In early June, they released a redesigned Discover page that features tiles with information on today’s stories, rather than just the icon of the publisher. Snapchat hopes this will push more people to check out these stories and return for more. Users can now subscribe to specific publishers. After you subscribe, those channels will appear under your friends’ stories on the Stories page, according to The Verge.

Bonus: Brands are getting serious about Snapchat, including those in the hospitality industry. Marriott and Lonely Planet are doing a good job with their Snapchat Stories at the moment. I included images that you can save to follow them on the platform if you’re interested in seeing what they’re sharing.

Marriott’s Snapcode

Marriott Hotels Snapcode

Lonely Planet’s Snapcode

Lonely Planet's Snapcode

Conclusion:

There have been many more updates to various social media platforms than what’s been featured here. These updates reflect the changes that will most affect consumers and businesses over the next months and years. Social media has become an increasingly important part of every businesses marketing plan, and it is important to stay informed on platform changes.

If you have any questions about these updates, please do not hesitate to comment below.

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