By Isis Darios
No doubt about it: Social media is one of the most crucial tools in any hotel’s marketing strategy for promotion and advertisement. Social networks can give your property exposure like never before. Proof? In a pre-Covid world, about 1,000,000 travel-related hashtags were searched weekly by American travelers (Wex, 2019). In 2021, a survey of social media professionals found that brands will create innovative digital experiences to win long-term loyalty (Hootsuite, 2021).
As a lodging provider, you can promote your property’s features and services, as well as interact with guests and potential guests through various different social channels. These channels also give you the opportunity to promote your hotel as an experience, not just a place to stay the night.
Social media channels allow hotel brands to communicate directly with guests and build purposeful relationships with them. Since the hospitality industry offers a highly personal experience that naturally inclines people to share and search for inspiring images, videos, travel hashtags, and testimonials, social media is the perfect platform to support and promote this rich content.
Social media marketing goals
The goal of your hotel’s social media marketing strategy should be to:
– Engagement: Interact and collaborate with current and future hotel guests
– Brand awareness: Create a voice for your brand that speaks to your specific guest demographic
– Analytics: Acquire real-time market data and gain insight into your business analytics
– Acquisition: Optimize advertising campaigns and promote products, services, special offers, contests, etc.
– Content marketing: share your latest content to drive traffic to your hotel website
With these goals in mind, here are 10 ways social media marketing campaigns can help promote your hotel.
1. Share your brand’s voice and values
Most properties are looking to make a name for themselves on social media networks, however, it’s easy for any brand to get lost in this crowded space. The key strategy to standing out is to develop your brand’s voice and consistently share your brand values so you’re attracting like-minded travelers to your property. Whether it’s casual and friendly, high-energy and adventure-based, high-end and luxury hotel experience or any other combination, your voice should be unique to your brand and match your brand values.
Once you’ve found your brand’s voice, it’s important that your visual content, descriptions, and interactions with clients all be consistent with your brand culture and follow brand guidelines where possible. If you get particularly good at promoting your brand, your property can even be featured in publications. InStyle featured 24 hotels that have nailed sharing their brand concept using Instagram. If you’re looking for inspiration, take a peek at #4, @8hotels (6,401 followers), and #2, @urbancowboybnb (107k followers).
For more Instagram-specific tips, check out our Build a Brand: A Hotel’s Guide to Instagram.
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2. Create shareable social media content
Creating shareable, or even viral, content is an art. To get it right you need to get into the mind of your audience and entice and inspire them to want to travel and visit your property. As a property, it’s important to emphasize features that’ll make your hotel stand out, including elements like unique design, beautiful surroundings, local food specialties, and nearby attractions worth sharing.
For example, the brand Collective Retreats promotes their reimagined vision of the traditional hotel experience using beautiful, high-quality photos coupled with detailed captions that describe the guest experience using all five senses. The result has been a huge following on both Facebook (64,400+ followers) and Instagram (95.7k followers).
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3. Offer exclusive deals
Social media audiences usually engage with businesses and brands because they’re a loyal consumer or they admire the content being put out on those channels. To nurture the relationship with your hotel’s social media audience, try offering exclusive discounts to reward their loyalty. This approach shows both past and potential guests that you value their loyalty and are willing to recognize them with rewards.
Hotels can even boost their engagement and widen their audience by rewarding travelers for using social media to promote their brand for them. You can even reward people with on-site perks, such as free drinks for discount vouchers, just for following your page. This way, you not only grow your social following, but you can also encourage followers to make the leap to visit your property. If you already have an established loyalty program, you can follow the lead of Marriott hotels: the popular chain offered new Instagram followers 500 reward points for following their page (now at a total of 303k followers).
4. Arrange contests on various platforms
By creating contests on various platforms, you engage with a larger portion of your customer base. Using more than one platform also helps create user-generated content that is more likely to get shared. Because word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, this can help grow your audience and social following. Additionally, you have the potential to create a more personal connection with people by involving them in a contest.
Some popular social media contests include “caption this photo” contests, giveaways (tag 2 friends in the comments to win a free night stay), trivia games with prizes, share your best travel photo contest (the guest is then featured on your social media page and you get to share genuine guest-curated photos). At Cloudbeds, we ran a “ Where in the World is Cloudbeds Diego ” contest where we asked our followers to guess the location of our traveling Regional Manager for a free t-shirt prize.
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There goes Diego with our “Never Stop Wandering” t-shirt! This round is difficult…but we always find him! So, we know Mexico has 111 magic villages. Some of them, like this new one, are on the Pacific. This paradise is well-known for its jazz festival. . . . Follow the steps below to enter your chance to win: 1. Make sure you’re following @Cloudbeds 2. Tag your favorite hotel, hostel, B&B, or vacation rental that you’ve visited. 3. Correctly guess Diego’s location We’ll post different challenges every week. A randomly-selected winner will be notified via Instagram message and have 72 hours to claim their prize before a runner-up is chosen. Good luck! #giveaway #cloudbedsdiego #cloudbeds #remotefirst #team
5. Be consistent on all your hotel’s social media profiles
Social media marketing efforts aren’t typically rewarded overnight but through consistency and continued usage. In order to maintain active engagement and to foster new bookings you need to make sure you:
– Regularly share updates (special events, dates, staff stories, and more)
– Answer prospect inquiries in a timely manner
– Add new, high-quality images
– Showcase your property’s best features
– Promote a unique guest experience
Logging in to all of your social media accounts individually to create daily posts can be time-consuming. You could use tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to help you manage your accounts by allowing you to schedule future posts in bulk and view and manage all of your social media platforms from one dashboard.
6. Try influencer marketing to spread awareness
Social media influencers, or people who have a strong social media following and personal brand, have become popular with businesses and properties as a means to advertise their brand. Influencers are usually content creators or bloggers who are often looked at by their followers as brand ambassadors and people who share authentic experiences.
The appeal of collaborating with a social media influencer is that you can reach thousands, sometimes millions of people outside of your normal target market that might be interested in visiting your property. Usually, the value for the influencers is a free stay at the hotel, plus comped food, drinks, and activities. If you have the means to work with an influencer to promote your property and think it will be beneficial for your brand, you can take a hint from a Canadian ski resort, Sun Peaks Resort. The property hosted Instagram influencer and adventure photographer Callum Snape (771k followers) who shared jaw-dropping images, Instagram Stories, and Facebook videos promoting the resort as the area’s best-kept secret. His contributions helped garner wide interest in the property from Sun Peaks’ target audience and they now have 46.6k followers.
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7. Utilize travel hashtags
Travel Hashtags can seriously boost your visibility across multiple platforms. By strategically adding popular hashtags to your content, you make your social media posts more searchable and easier for potential guests to find. Do some research and scope out some of your competitors to find travel hashtags that are relevant to your brand and will help your property get noticed. Also, consider creating your own unique branded hashtag and encourage visitors to use it so you can build authentic, user-created branded content on your platform.
One tip is to use Instagram’s “tags” search feature to see photos that are using the same hashtag you plan to use and discover other relevant travel hashtags you can borrow. You can also use a tool like Hashtagify to help you conduct more in-depth hashtag research so you can always find the most popular and trending travel hashtags for your property.
8. Try paid advertising
Another marketing tool you can use is paid social media campaigns. These ads can generate positive results without the huge expense associated with traditional advertising because of the detailed audience targeting that’s available via social media platforms. The benefits of paid social advertising include:
– Built-in retargeting features
– Ability to advertise to incredibly specific demographics
– Enormous potential reach
Facebook ads are probably the most popular way to target your audience via social media, and from the Facebook Ads Manager platform, you can also create ad posts for Instagram. Facebook ads allow you to target your ideal travel market by allowing you to create very specific audiences based on demographics like age, interests, location, places recently visited income, and more.
9. Drive direct bookings on social media
On Facebook, you can create a “call to action” button that links directly to your booking engine so visitors browsing your social media page can get to your booking engine in one click. This is a great solution, especially for mobile devices, and will allow visitors to see rates, availability, and book all in one easy step.
Cloudbeds offers a commission-free booking engine for your website and Facebook page that’s flexible, customizable, and can help you drive more direct bookings, not only on your website and Facebook page but also via Instagram and Twitter too. Properties like Hotel AM Markt Munich use this feature to drive direct bookings straight from their Facebook page.
10. Try new social media channels
Social media channels attract different demographics so don’t limit your online presence to one or two networks. Many find that millennials tend to use Instagram, Gen-Z is increasingly found on TikTik, while LinkedIn is the platform for building business relationships. Identify who your best hotel guests are and which channels are the best to reach them.
Make sure to check your social media analytics on each channel. Insights into active users, their engagement with your content, demographics, and location will give you insights into your ROI. For example, on Instagram, you can see your content’s performance on individual posts (photos, stories, videos, live videos) as well as trends on the Instagram users that follow you (followers gained/lost), top locations, age-range and times they’re most active). Audience insights across different social media channels will give new ideas and help your overall marketing plan.
If a social media channel doesn’t work for you, don’t waste your resources.
Used by millions of people, social media is a powerful tool that’s always evolving with new opportunities and trends for marketers. Crafting an effective social media presence is a journey that will give you an advantage over competitors and can lead to developing lifelong loyal guests.
If you’re looking for advice on integrating your booking engine with your social media page, or you want to upgrade your PMS, contact Cloudbeds today, we’d love to chat.