You know social media is important, but does that mean you need a full-time social media manager? Probably not immediately. In a small to mid-size independent hotel, you can and should enable your staff to contribute to your social media efforts. Not only will they be willing to help, but it’s an opportunity for them to learn new skills. Use your staff to curate and post the latest happenings at your property and share their unique point of view. Here, we created tips to help you set-up a winning strategy.
First, gauge interest. If your staff is uninterested in contributing to your social media efforts, don’t force them. The last thing you want is for your social posts to feel inauthentic and look bad. So, find staff members who enjoy posting on social and then set them up for success. Offer rewards or incentives to aid in this new project.
We suggest you research your interested employees’ personal social media channels in order to decide if they should help or not.
Which staff members should you involve? I say involve anyone who is willing and capable. The first obvious people to ask would be your concierge and front desk employees, but why not your cleaning staff, too? They spend more time inside your rooms than anyone else, perfect for snapping those incredible views from the balcony. This works well with seasoned employees that have long-term goals of sticking with your property, not for transient employees who come and go.
Second, create a plan and a posting framework. In our recent article about Instagram, we highlight the importance of creating a story. Your entire social strategy should tell the same story, but in different ways. Make sure that your employees understand the strategy they are contributing to. Lay out a strategy for each platform. Determine who you are trying to reach and what types of content you want to share.
Part of your plan should include a posting schedule. Lay out exactly how many posts each employee is responsible for each day or week. A schedule will help keep employees accountable and also create a sense of ownership.
Social media networks each have their place, but serve different purposes. You don’t need a presence on all of them. Instead, pick one or two that have the community you want to stay at your property. Let’s take a look at the big four: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
This should be the foundation of your social strategy. Many will tell you that Facebook is a dying platform for one reason or another. Often, privacy and safety concerns lead people to deactivate accounts, but in reality, most users have stuck around. Regardless of what popular opinion will tell you, Facebook still reigns supreme in terms of daily active users and sheer number of users. We suggest posting 3-5 times a week. Include daily happenings and special events around the hotel and occasionally throw in a post about a special deal or sale.
Instagram is the most visual networking platform. To find success on Instagram, you should share interesting views of your hotel and allow guests to get an inside look at what it’s like to be a guest. Instagram is anti-sales, so rarely post strong sales messages, especially in the picture itself. Start out by posting 2-3 times a day, but for an active brand, everyday is ideal.
This is a great place to share blogs and other content with potential guests. Also include a healthy dose of pictures. It’s appropriate to share any announcements you have and the occasional sales message is also permissible. Twice a day is the rule I like to stick to, but start out slow and build as you and your employees become more comfortable.
Share tips and tricks to inspire your guests to stay at your property. Create boards for local attractions, hotel amenities, and information about your destination. This platform is also anti-sales, so stay away from the pushy marketing messages. Pinterest is great because you can put in a lot of work 2-3 times per month and maintain a strong presence. The initial creation of Pinterest boards is time consuming, but after the initial push, it is mostly maintenance. You should consistently add new boards, but creating a new board every week probably isn’t necessary.
Pinterest has great “Getting Started” resources on their Pinterest for business page located here.
Third, assign roles. If you are going to have multiple people help with your social efforts, we suggest assigning them by platform. That way, it’s easier to manage and schedule postings. Use the information above to create a calendar and then assign roles in a visible document so everyone feels accountable for their posting goals. If you want to see everything before it’s posted, make sure that you are transparent about your expectations.
You can easily give access to your social channels by adding roles and users to either Hootsuite or Buffer. They are two of the most popular social media management tools. Within Hootsuite and Buffer, you can give access to one or all of your social channels. It is also easy to revoke permissions if and when that is necessary.
Fourth, once you have your plan, it’s time to execute. Determine whether you’re going to give your employees the username and passwords to the accounts or if you are going to control posting. It really depends on how much you trust your employees. It might be a good idea for employees to run their posts by you first, then give them more freedom later on. Depending on your property and your goals, your level of control will differ.
We came up with some examples of how your employees can implement your social strategy.
This picture from Generator Hostels could very well be taken by a front desk agent or a concierge if they have one. Simple photos that display your property’s unique characteristics are easy to take and great for your guests.
Here’s another example from Hyatt that shows a pre-set table before guest and diners arrive. If you elicit the help of your restaurant staff, this is a great authentic photo an employee could take and share to your social feeds.
Your employees probably know your destination better than anyone else. They can share their local recommendations with your guests and act like a traveling concierge. Your employees can help keep your property up-to-date with the best new restaurants and local spots.
Remember when I suggested your cleaning crew could also help out on social? I wasn’t kidding! There are so many opportunities for every position to share their experience in the hotel. This picture featuring a very cute bed setup is social media gold. Your guests love to see the personal touches you put in every room.
Your employees can also share behind the scenes moments that guests may not otherwise see. Such as, a new piece of exciting equipment being delivered, or a fun game the staff likes to play in downtime. The image we included is of a bartender making drinks during the World Cup. A fun behind the scenes image is a create way to convey authenticity.
While all of these examples were from Instagram, they work across other social media platforms as well. A tweet looks much different than an Instagram post, but the content can remain the same.
While your strategy should remain the same over time, you should change your tactics every month or so. Take a look at what has performed well on social, and gauge each employee’s success. Keep track of engagement and decide if you need to put more or less rules in place. If you give your employees creative freedom, they will be more inclined to help with your efforts. Also, brainstorm with your employees on how to improve your social channels.
Not only will you diversify your social media channels with multiple point of views, you will also increase employee advocacy according to Monster. When you elicit the help of your staff, it puts them in a social media mindset. If your employees aren’t already posting about you on social, they probably will after you enable them. Their social channels extend your property’s reach and help you find new customers and can even attract new employees.
As with any plan, there are risks. Giving your employees the keys to the social media kingdom is risky, because it is your brand’s home on the internet. It also has a lot of power to influence people who may or may not stay at your hotel. If you Google “employees go rogue on social media”, you will see far too many examples of social antics. A comical example Gremlin shared, shows an employee live tweeting a mass-layoff from the company’s account. This was a PR disaster.It is a prime example of how an employee can abuse their power.
Hopefully you won’t have to worry about an employee live tweeting a mass exodus. But, in the event that someone tries to deface your brand, you can attempt to quickly change your password. Most services will immediately logout all users after a password change. Every rogue employee situation will be different, but the first thing to do in the event of disaster is change the passwords.
Utilizing your current work staff in their down time is a great way to fuel your social media strategy. Staying authentic and true to your brand is one of the most important parts of social media, and your employees can help you do that. They have a unique view and constant contact with your guests, so their point of view is valuable.