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Cloudbeds

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How Hotels Win at Social Media

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00:45.18
Posted by Cloudbeds
September 17, 2015

Learn what it takes to craft a solid social media foundation to grow your hotel’s brand.

Transcript

Click here to download the free ebook companion to this webinar.


Brandon: Hi there, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to this very first thought leadership webinar by Cloudbeds on how to “Win at social media.” My name is Brandon Dennis. I’m the VP of Marketing here at Cloudbeds, and I’m joined by Alex Ciodioli [PH]; he is our Marketing Coordinator. He’s going to assist me as a panelist on this webinar. You’re going to notice that there’s a Q&A button, or at least there should be, on your zoom broadcaster. And you can use that to ask questions during this webinar that Alex will read and then toss at me during the webinar. So if you have any questions whatsoever, if anything comes into your mind, or you just got to know the answer, well by all means, use that button, jot down an Q&A, and I will do my very best to answer posthaste. So, we had a great turn out in terms of registrants. I expect this to be a fun and dynamic webinar. So let’s hop to it.


So, how to win at social media? This is one of those topics that is used quite frequently because everybody wants to be doing well at social media. It can be tricky. And one of the issues that many hoteliers come across in particular is that they get a social media account and they start posting to it, and they may be pretty frequent for a while but they don’t get a lot of traction at first and then things start to die out. Their followers don’t really grow and they lose a lot of their enthusiasm. And then they end up having all of these social media channels that they never update anymore, that have very few followers, and end up not actually doing very much for their business or for their brand.


And it’s a trap that many businesses, not just hotels, fall into. And in fact, many online personalities and people fall into as well when they try to over extend themselves in the world of social media. So in this webinar, we’re going to be covering this topic in two ways. If I can move on the slide. There you go. So, in the first section, during part one of this webinar, we’re going to be talking about the nuts and bolts of social media and really the strategies that you can weave together to build a solid social media presence.


It’s going to include things about which platforms you should use, the frequency that you should be posting, what kinds of content you should be posting, so on and so forth. And then in part two, we’ll be talking about the goals of social media. Is it really supposed to be used to drive new guests to your property, or maybe there’s a different role for it? We’re going to explore some of the different possibilities there.


But first, I want to cover this one topic, and that’s start out small. And the reason I say that is because what happens, as I alluded to earlier – and this usually is what happens when there’s any new technology, whether it was the mobile revolution or now we’re talking about social media – is when something new like this happens, people get really excited and they want to go out and do everything. And that’s what happens with social media. They go out and get a Facebook page and a Twitter page and Instagram and Pinterest and Google Plus, Four Square. And they get all of these online social media presences and then what you do, right? You’ve got all of these presences, you don’t have really any followers, you don’t know how to update all of them. You don’t know what kind of content you want to share. And what you’ve done is you’ve over extended yourself.


You’re trying to boil the ocean instead of having some focus to your social media strategy. So for hoteliers, Facebook and Twitter and Instagram are excellent social networks because people love interacting with photos on Instagram. People love sending customer service comments on Twitter to hotels, and people love connecting with hotels on Facebook. So all three of those are excellent social media platforms for hoteliers. But one of the things that I would suggest is, when you’re starting out, maybe pick one, one or maybe two. If you’re feeling fairly adventurous, maybe you could pick two, but focus on just a few social networks and try to get those to work for you first.


If after six months of being habitual and being committed to your social media strategy and you start to see things pay off and you start to see where the direction that your social media strategy is starting to go, then if you have the resources, maybe consider expanding into other social media networks. But for the moment, especially if you have a limit or non-existent social media strategy right now, start out small. And then another point that we want to cover on this slide is that nothing looks worse than an incomplete profile, a Twitter profile that doesn’t have a photo of your property or a link to your property, a Facebook profile that doesn’t have a cover photo.


Sometimes it just takes 30 minutes to an hour to sit down, look at all the options within the social network, upload photos of your property, write a short 30 word description, add a link to your property and other social media networks. Just giving the network the information it needs to be able to understand your property so that people can find it. So then we come to content, right? Now that you’ve got your profile set up, now that you’ve chosen the network that you actually want to focus on, you’ve got to think of something to share. And this can get tricky. I’m sure this has happened to you when you’ve gone onto Facebook and you’ve seen your newsfeed and you’ve followed a few brands, maybe, on Facebook and suddenly your newsfeed is filled with ads, right?


Everyone’s talking about the new line of shoes that they’ve got or the interesting weave in this seasonal scarf thing that’s coming out or whatever, and you’re kind of like, “Well, this doesn’t really interest me. I’m not following this.” Or you see the exact same news story over and over and over again: a boy is arrested for bringing a clock to school, something like that. You just see it over and over and over again because people are sharing the exact same thing. So, content is tricky. It’s one of those things that the hardest part is finding the content to share and making it interesting.


So the bad news is that you are going to have to come up with content. But the good news is that you probably already have all of the content you need to get started. And the reason we say that is because people are visual. People love photographs. When somebody appears on your website, they make a decision about whether or not they’re going to stay in 50 milliseconds, which is an incredibly short period of time. And they do that based on the visual aspect of it, especially the photos, because as we all know, a photo can tell a thousand words. Now, as hotelier, you’re all about experiences. You’re all about selling experiences, selling your hospitality, selling the views from your property, selling the location that your property is in. And all of that can be told with photographs. And thankfully, all of these major social networks are really friendly with photographs.


I mean, Pinterest is all about photos. Talk about finding a social network where you can inspire people for travel, that’s what Pinterest is about. Instagram, another great photocentric [SP] social network. And then both Twitter and Facebook have evolved over the years to really highlight photos in interesting and dynamic ways. So we think that you probably already have a lot of really good content, either on your website or on your computer at home or in your camera, or you have the potential to just pull out your camera or find a professional photographer, even better, and get some excellent photography done about your property.


Another thing that’s really important when it comes to creating interesting content to share on social media, is stories. People love stories. Yes, photos are great but what’s even better is a photo story or a photo journal, or maybe people love things that are going on at your property. Say that you’re doing some construction work, watch us transform our pool area, right? You can take photos of the construction as it’s going on and then share that as a photo journal on your blog and then also on your social networks. People love that kind of stuff. They love being involved in it. They love thinking, seeing what’s going on at your place and then imagining themselves there, feeling a part of it. That inspires the travel bug within people. And that’s where social media can really help, especially if you use a lot of photos.


So here’s an example. This is the Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto, California, and they’re doing social media really well. I mean, check out this one photograph that they shared on Facebook. It was only online for a few moments and it already had 33 likes. They have a beautiful property in Palo Alto and they definitely took the opportunity to take some nice photographs. Now this isn’t something that they didn’t put a lot of work into. Just look at this photograph. They had to set this table. They put the croissants out there, both orange juices haven’t even been touched or sipped; they’re definitely there as part of a prop. They didn’t just haphazardly go through here and snap a few shots; they found a professional photographer.


They had somebody who knew framing, who knew how to set it up. Because a good photographer can take almost any property and find the interesting thing about it and capture that in film, or find the young 20-something-year-olds who are having their first out of home holiday at your place and they’re just happy to be there. Then we would care. They’re just happy to be out of the home. They can capture that moment of smiling guests at your property. So yeah, anyone can pull out their iPhone and go on and take some photos. And if you don’t have a budget for photos in your marketing plan, then that’s definitely a legitimate option, especially the latest phones that have these contrillion [SP] megapixel cameras that are on them. You can get some decent photography on them if you don’t have a marketing budget.


But I do encourage you, yeah, it may cost a $1,000, yeah, it may cost $2,000 – they’re gravy – but find one of these professional photographers in your area, if you don’t have photos already, and have them come by and take some photos of your property. They’re going to be extremely useful in your marketing plan. And I think I moved on to the next one already. Another idea is to be posting daily specials.


Here’s Tower 23 Hotel. They’ve got a well reviewed dish and they’ve got news about their restaurant, and they use that opportunity to share it on social media. Yeah, they are talking a little bit about themselves, but it’s okay every now and then to talk about yourself, to talk about your ratings, to talk about an award that you recently won. Because those are news worthy moments. Those are press release moments. When you win an award, when you get nominated for something, those are moments that you can share on social media without feeling too guilty about talking about yourself too much.


But we also have to bear in mind that social media isn’t just about you. It’s not this megaphone that you’re holding up and saying, “Me, me, me, me, me.” Because people get bored with you. We get bored with people who are constantly talking about themselves. We get bored with businesses that are constantly talking about their latest product and their latest thing and them, them, them. Instead, people come out to social media to see a little bit of that, but primarily to interact with a brand, to interact with a celebrity, to interact with something they care about, whether it’s a hotel brand that they really like or a community that they’ve been involved with in the past or a celebrity that they respect or something like that.


It’s not about you as the hotelier having a platform to spout off all of your ideas. It’s partly that, but also it’s an opportunity for your guests to interact with you, to share in your adventure as you’re going through your life as a hotelier and as your property is evolving from the property that it started out to be to the property that it’s going to become.


And they’re going to leave comments and they’re going to retweet your posts and they’re going to leave mentions on Twitter. And those are opportunities for you to talk to them and to respond to them and to tweet back at them and to respond to their comments and to give them a thumbs up like on Facebook. And to do all of the different social things that you can do on social networks that you can’t do on any other kind of website, you can’t do anywhere else on the internet, that you can do on social networks to tell your guests, “Hey, I’m here and I saw you. And I like what you said. And I’m glad that you’re listening. I just want to give you some validation for being such a great and uber, awesome fan.”


Making sure that your social, like what Pineapple Hospitality here in Seattle is doing, these guys hop on Twitter and say, “Hey, I just love you. Thanks for the cinnamon roll,” and they responded. They didn’t just ignore it. This didn’t go into a black hole. Pineapple Hospitality took the time to hop on the Twitter and say, “Hey, thanks so much. Hope you’re having a good time.” And that’s what it’s supposed to be.


All right. So if we may go back to content, we go back to thought leadership, we go back to branding, because there are a lot of hotels, lot of bed and breakfasts, lot of hostels, that are all trying to create their own space, carve out a niche for themselves in social media. And that brings this question: what makes you, you? What is unique about your property? What is the one thing about your property that no other property can say, “This is what we’re all about. This is the thing that makes us neat. This is the thing that makes us unique”?


These are the things that you can pull out and then put into your brand identity. These are the things that can resonate with your guests. Here’s an example. This is the Ace Hotel, and they’ve decided that they really want to embrace this distinctive hipster vibe. So they have a definite feel of their photography when they have models. They have hipster models. They’re reading Life and Times. They’ve got the hipster glasses and they’re doing all this Pacific Northwest hipster Seattle thing.


And they’re talking about culture and magazines and food, and that’s really their focus. That’s their brand. There’s no bed in this photograph; there’s no view from the hotel in this photograph. This photograph was all about the brand imagery that they’re trying to present. They’re trying to say, “Hey, we’re like this. This is our brand identity. If you’re like this, or if you appreciate this brand identity, then you should be staying at our property.”


And this is just one example. You don’t have to have a hipster brand identity. You can have any kind of brand identity that you want. You want it to associate with something. And we’ll get into a couple of other examples just to show you that. Back to photography. Another thing that you can do with photography, is you can use photos and contests to get some interaction on social networks. So here’s an example of W Hotels and what they did, is they realized that every single traveler these days comes with a camera that’s easily accessible.


It’s on their phone and not only can take photographs but can upload those photographs to the internet and post them on social media. And so they had the brilliant idea of having a contest and saying, “Hey, take photographs of our property or take photographs of the view from around here and then upload them to social media with the hashtag #posewhenever.” This was their idea. Because they wanted to be associated with fitness. This was their big niche.


And you think about it. Okay, hipsterism [SP], not directly related with hospitality. Fitness, again, not directly related with hospitality. But these are two different niches. Ace Hotels went hipster; W Hotels is going fitness. They’re finding these niches to help really craft an identity for their property and then they’re going with it. And they’re using this identity on social media to gain traction. They’ve got a hashtag, they’ve got people taking photographs of fitness and things related to fitness, and they’re associating it with their hotels. They’re leveraging all of their guests. They’re leveraging other people on social media to help them establish their brand identity. It’s a very clever idea.


All right. Let’s talk a little bit about schedules. So when it comes to scheduling…let me briefly talk about why scheduling is important. If you don’t have a schedule for yourself, it’s like trying to maintain your house without having a budget. You start out great, you’ve got a budget, but then slowly over time, you lose track of the budget and then you don’t want to do the budget. And by the time you realize that, you’ve expended your paycheck for the month on silly things. And it’s the same thing with scheduling. You start out really good and then you start and you’re energized, this Facebook thing is great and brand new, and you share 15 times a day, and then the next day, you share three times a day. And the day after that, you share once, and then you don’t share for a month until something pops up and then you might share again. You kind of lose steam.


Creating a schedule helps overcome this. If you can create a schedule and put it on your calendar and stick with it for an extended period of time, having a schedule forces you to be consistent with your online posting. And consistent online posting of interesting, unique content is the greatest way to gain new followers. Nobody likes following a profile that’s constantly sharing what’s already being shared in the world. Nobody likes following a profile that shares once a month or once a quarter.


People and guests like following brands and personalities that have something unique and interesting to say frequently. Now, this doesn’t have to be too frequently. This doesn’t mean that you have to be sitting on Twitter and then responding to mentions all the time and then posting a tweet every 30 seconds or anything like that. No, create a schedule that’s right for your property, that’s right for the way you run your business.


If you only have time to hop on Facebook and Twitter twice a week, that’s actually okay. You don’t want to be overloading people either. Twice a week is perfectly acceptable. If you want to do it four times a week, you could do that if you have the time and energy. But we recommend, here at Cloudbeds, start small – twice a week per network that you decide to use. Work on consistency, then add more content, more frequent content. Once you get down the twice a week thing and you do that for three months and you feel like you can go a little bit more, you’ve got more to say, you’ve got more content to share, you’re really enjoying this, you’re getting in the flow of it, then maybe go to four times a week or six times a week or once a day even, if you’re feeling very adventurous. But really, start small, create a schedule, and stick with it.


Then you’ve got to measure the results. Because we’re marketers here, right? You’re working on your property, you’re marketing your property, and we have to understand the return on investment. Is my time really coming back on me? And this is the wonderful thing of social networks, is that they come with some handsome analytics. Facebook has an excellent analytics system where you can be right into the application, and then after you post something, within a matter of hours, you can click on the results and you can see the post engagement. How many people have liked it? How many people were reached by it? How many people were likely to have seen it?


Twitter also has some analytics. You can see your followers grow over time. You can see the impressions that your tweets got. And the same is true for Instagram. And the reason we bring this up is that it can seem disheartening, especially if you start from nothing, if you start at zero followers, if you start with no social media presence whatsoever, it can seem disheartening to get no likes and no retweets and no mentions for days, weeks, months, quarters. It goes on and on if you’re just not getting the interaction you want.


But sometimes good stories are hidden in the numbers. Sometimes when you start at zero followers and then it takes a month for you to get to 30 followers, yeah, that’s frustrating but then a month later, you’re at 90 followers. And then a month after that, you’re at 300 followers. And even though you’re not getting all of the social metrics you want, you can see significant improvement. You can see that the effort that you’re putting in to this marketing strategy is starting to pay off. And this can inspire you. This can help inspire you to stick with it, because the longer you stick with it, the more you’re going to get out of it.


This leads us very cleanly to our next topic, which is going to be: what is the goal of social media? Why are we doing this? What’s the point of all of this? We’re not all such wonderful human beings that we like having pleasant conversations with just any old person on how fine [inaudible 00:21:25] we are. [inaudible 00:21:26]. But there’s definitely a goal for social media, so we need to figure out exactly what that is. What is the business goal for using social media for your property? And I would like to emphasize that it’s more than just sales. No social strategy should be 100% tied to selling the product, in this case, your rooms and your beds. And the reason for that is what we alluded to earlier on this podcast, where people don’t like listening to salesmen. People don’t like listening to somebody who’s constantly talking about themselves.


So yeah, there is an ancillary part of using social media, and that is to get people to go to your website, to be inspired by your website, to be inspired by your property, to go to your booking engine and give you a direct reservation. That is possible, that is part of why we do social media, but it’s not the only reason we’re doing social media. There are a number of other wonderful things that you can gain from doing social media than just getting new reservations. And there’s this great rule in marketing, the 80:20 rule, especially when it comes to social media.


Twenty percent of your posts can be used to talk all about you – the new menu that you’ve got, the award that you’ve got, the new special you’ve got going on. But 80% of the time, you should be sharing other people’s information or you should be sharing something that isn’t directly related to your property, where you should be creating something new that in and of itself has artistic merit, like a beautiful photo gallery of some sunsets or something nearby that is uniquely yours.


Or you’re promoting somebody else that’s a business partner of yours. Maybe there are other businesses in the area that are having promotions and you just want to let everybody that’s following you know that there’s this great opportunity, that you’re not going to get anything out of it but your friend will, or some other person in the community might, and you want to be able to share that on social media. These are other things that you can use to make your social profiles more interesting and more useful to your followers. The more useful it is for your followers, the more likely your followers are going to be sticky; they’re going to stick around longer.


Social media is about brand building. Yes, it’s about sales but it’s also about brand building. What you’re doing is you’re using this as an opportunity to establish your property as a unique personality and to establish your property as a thought leader in your industry. And as a thought leader, I don’t necessarily mean that you’re publishing all of these white papers and you’re publishing all of these books and all of that.


No, when it comes to properties that cater to fishermen who go to California for the Grunion Run once a year every year, why by golly, your property is the thought leader in the industry because you’ve got all of the best local guides for finding the best Grunions and where to set up your camps and your tents and your nets and maps of where you could go to the best spots, and information on the creeks. You’ve created all of that content. You’re constantly talking about it. You’re constantly sharing it. You’re a thought leader in that very specific, very niche place on this planet.


And that’s what we mean about brand building. You want to give your brand a personality and to showcase what you’re interested in, what your property is passionate about, and the kind of guests that you’re hoping to attract. And this is particularly true with hostels. Hostels frequently try to attract young people who are adventurers, and having a brand that seems kind of corporate, it’s not going to be good for a hostel. No young person’s going to go to a hostel website and see a bunch of people in suits, a lot of stock photography, and go, “Oh, yeah, I want to stay here. This is totally my thing.”


No, they’re not going to do that. They want to see people out in the hiking shorts and climbing mountains and doing kayaking, and doing the parasailing, smiling and having fun. Because that’s the brand of a hostel. Those are the kind of guests that hostels are catering to sometimes. Sometimes you’ll have city hostels that don’t have the adventure component. But in that case, you can have parties and museums and castles and stuff like that. But you get the idea.


So finding that niche that you really want your property to have that’s focused, to give itself a character and a brand identity. You can use that, you can leverage that for building your brand. And you can take all of that to social media, where you can help build your brand. This leads us directly into the next thing, which is share what you know best. Here’s an interesting one. This is the Roger Smith Hotel, and they like art. They said, “Yeah, we’re going to build the hotel about art.” So here they are. They’re talking about colors and shapes, and they’ve got this gallery going on in their hotel with all of these beautiful photographs of gem stones that are made in pointlistic fashions and of different shapes and sizes. And they just really love art and they want to cater to a user base that are interested in artistic things, that can find value in taking a look at art.


And so they’ve got a gallery in their hotel and they’re sharing about it on social media. And they’ve really taken art, modern art, and put that into their brand. That’s really what they’re about. That’s who they are. And so that’s who they’re catering to. These are very simple things. Again, we’ve got the hipster hotel. We’ve got the fitness hotel. We’ve got the art hotel. These are three different things that are not specifically related to hospitality, but each of these properties, each of these hospitality businesses, took those things and wove them into their own personalities to make a new brand that is completely unique that can establish itself as a unique place to follow on social media. So another interesting idea.


And so here’s another aspect of social media that is not often talked about in broadcasts like this, and that’s people will come to social media for customers. And this is just the nature of the beast. Any time you have a publicly facing part of your business where people can respond to you directly, people are going to come with their customer service issues. Sometimes it’s a complaint. Sometimes it’s praise like we saw in the Pineapple Hospitality one. But this actually gives you an opportunity to use social media, particularly Twitter but also Facebook, as a customer service tool. You could have your hotel employees trained in customer service, and use social media as a customer service tool. Now, this goes back to a lot of the other content that we’ve produced on our blog at cloudbeds.com, where we talk about how you can respond to negative reviews, how you can respond to criticism on social media.


There are ways to do it the right way. In short, don’t lose your temper, always be kind. I mean, you know this. This is very basic common stuff. But this is one of the ways social media is going to be used, and that’s for customers to go and vent. And so making sure that whomever has access to your social media accounts, whether it’s a friend, a family member, or an employee, that they need to be trained in customer service so that they can respond to issues like that. And going back to brand, monitoring your brand, another thing to think about is that people are going to be talking about your property in places that you might not have thought about. So let’s say that you focus on Twitter and you’ve got your Twitter account, but then you notice your website starts getting all this traffic from Facebook.


And lo and behold, you go to Facebook and you discover that there’s this community that’s talking all about your hotel. They use your brand name all the time and that’s a great indication that you should probably have a Facebook presence. And so you can find where people are talking about your property already and then use that information to go in there and establish a Facebook presence where you’re already well known. And one way that you can go about finding this information, is using a free service called Google Alerts. With Google Alerts, you can punch in a phrase or a word and you can say, “Google, send me an email any time you discover this phrase or word being used anywhere on the internet.” And this is great for monitoring your brand.


And we do this at Cloudbeds. Any time somebody uses the name Cloudbeds or any of our product names, my allocator, my front desk, my bookings, we get alerts, at least I get alerts, so that I can go there and I can see what people are saying, so that we can respond to people’s questions and we can have a really positive quick and prompt online marketing presence, customer service presence. But you can also have that on social media as well.


Okay. Well, that was the nuts and bolts of this. We have it scheduled for an hour but we really want to do this fairly quickly. If you have any questions, if anything peaked your interest, use this opportunity to go to the Q&A section and write down some Q&As;. And I just want to briefly recap. We talked about how to build a social media presence and how to start small. Starting small, I think, is one of those things that’s really going to help when you’re first starting out so that you’re not overwhelmed, because it can be overwhelming going to five or six different social media networks at a time. And then creating a schedule, making sure that you have a content schedule. Those two things I think are going to be the keys to this, the keys to really putting your foot through the door the right way to set yourself up for success.


Alex: So, hi, Brandon. Alex here.


Brandon: Hey, Alex.


Alex: We have one question. Where can I download the presentation at the end?


Brandon: That’s a great question. Tell you what, after the broadcast, we’ll go ahead and publish this as a PDF. And then I’ll send an email out to everybody who showed up, so that they can download this. But in addition, we have a blog post that goes through some of this information, and we’re actually in the process of producing an eBook that has some of this information in it as well. So I would also recommend going to cloudbeds.com, going to the blog, and subscribing to the blog because we tend to share a lot of this information, eBooks, webinars, through blog posts there. And so you’ll be sure to get notified. But what we’ll do, is we’ll also publish this as a PDF and try to share a link for it after the webinar.


Alex: We have another question here. Is it good to follow people when they follow you on Twitter? So, assuming this is a follow back question.


Brandon: Alex, would you like to take this one?


Alex: Sure. I’m a big advocate for following people back on Twitter. It shows that you’re also listening and you also care that they’re following you. It’s one strategy to go after. You won’t see it with huge brands like a Hilton or a Marriot, but for smaller independents, definitely recommend following back the people who follow you, as long as they’re relevant.


Brandon: Exactly. And I think that’s the key right there. Make sure that they’re relevant, make sure that you’ve established them as either a guest or they’re part of your marketing funnel. You don’t go out and just follow 500 strangers. That might not be the best strategy. But if they’re following you and they’re interested in you and they’re tweeting at you, then yeah, definitely. It’s a great sign of solidarity to go ahead and follow them.


Alex: Right. Tweeter robots are bad.


Brandon: They are bad.


Alex: Try to avoid those.


Brandon: Are there other questions?


Alex: We have one more. So, when and how should you use hashtags?


Brandon: That’s a great question. I think we both have some opinions on this. Alex, go ahead and share yours and then I’ll share mine.


Alex: I particularly enjoy hashtags. There’s a lot going on right now about only using very specific, relevant hashtags. But I think hashtags are also a way that you can show what your brand is all about and can be quirky and funny at times. Try not to over use them, but use the relevant ones and create your own hashtags for your property or for something, an event that’s going on. But I know that Brandon has some other opinions about hashtags.


Brandon: I tend to be fairly conservative when it comes to hashtags, only because I know that for me, myself, when I see hashtags being used on social media recklessly, I guess, I tend to be a little annoyed. When you see somebody post a one sentence tweet and then they have 50 million hashtags, and I’m sitting there going, “Really? Okay.” But they can be used really well, especially if you’re trying to build a movement or if there’s a convention going on at your place and the convention is using the hashtag to communicate with each other, or if you know that there’s a convention going on in a convention center nearby and they’re all using a hashtag and you want to reach out to them and you’re like, “Hey, everybody, come on over for a free breakfast. Hashtag your convention is awesome,” or whatever.


If you can find strategic ways to find hashtags with basically work as communities that are already existing in that work for your property or work in your area, you can leverage those as interesting marketing tactics. Or if you just really want to use hashtags as a way to build your brand, you could create your own brand of hashtags and maybe associate it with this one unique thing that is really embodying your brand or maybe associating it with your location – hashtag [inaudible 00:34:49] is awesome, or whatever. They can be used, but in my opinion, use them within reason.


Alex: So we have another question. Should I use the same content when I’m using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram? Or is that unprofessional?


Brandon: You tackle this one first and then I’ll hop on.


Alex: I definitely think that you should use content on multiple platforms, but you just have to change it for that platform. So, a Facebook post isn’t going to look the same as a Twitter post, because a Twitter post can only be 140 characters. I’m sure you know that. But for Twitter, you need to make sure it has an image, so that people…it’s like 200% more people engaged with a Twitter post that has an image. So you need to make sure you have that. So for each platform, you can use the same content but it has to be changed to match that platform’s style, per se.


Brandon: I agree. And ideally, if you had the time, you would craft content specifically for the personalities on that social platform. Now, that’s almost unrealistic. I know that even in my own personal social media I tend to share the exact same thing on every single social media network that I’m using. It’s never been the end of the world. If you want to do it that way, it does save time. You’re still creating content. It’s still interesting, it’s still you, and you can still share it. But what I’ve discovered over the years is that, different types of people tend to use different types of social networks.


And the kind of person who’s more likely going to be on Twitter is not always the same kind of person that’s going to be on Facebook. So sometimes if I know that I have a short, piffy aside comment that I’m wanting to say, I won’t post that to Facebook because it might confuse people or it might get buried under a bunch of other stuff. Instead, I’ll usually just post that to Twitter and I won’t put it on Facebook or Instagram or anywhere else. That’s just something that I had an idea and I’m sharing that directly with Twitter, because that’s designed for my Twitter audience. They have a unique personality.


And this is something you’re going to discover over the years as you continue to massage and mature your social networks. You’re going to see distinct personalities developing in terms of your fan base or your customer base on those social profiles, and then you can tailor content specifically for them. But if you’re just starting, I completely agree, it’s totally okay to share the same content on both social media networks.


Alex: Another question: is it worth paying for the business listings on different review sites like Trip Advisor, booking.com, etc?


Brandon: It can be. It just depends if it aligns with your business goals. And it also depends on which ones you’re already getting traffic from. So what I would take a look is at your website analytics. If you’ve got WordPress, you usually have Jet Pack installed. You can take a look at Jet Pack analytics. Or if you’ve got Google Analytics installed on your website, you can take a look at Google Analytics and see where your referring traffic is coming from already. If you’re already getting some traffic from Trip Advisors and Expedias and those kind of places, go and see where your property is already ranking.


And if it’s not ranking well enough, you already know that guests are coming to your property from that place. You already know that you’re getting business from it. So you can probably guess that, yeah, if I invest a little bit of money into this network, or into this directory, then I’m probably going to get a positive ROI at the end.


But it should be something that you have the freedom to walk away from. It should be something that you should be free to experiment with. I certainly wouldn’t sign any long term contracts more than 30 days. For me, that would feel a little like a burden. But then you’re going to have to do the maths. Sit down and calculate the ROI. All right, how much money am I spending on this advertising? What am I spending on any commission fees that I’m going to have to pay? How do I match that with the actual revenue that I’m going to make, and does it actually come out as a positive for me in the end?


A lot of grunt work, a lot of math, a lot of sitting down and just doing the due diligence on running the numbers. But the answer to those questions, it’s going to be different for every property, and that’s why I can’t give a blanket yes or no for everyone. But if you’re getting traffic already, if you know that it’s going to be a directory where you’re going to be able to get some business because you’ve converted business in the past, and if you’ve done the math and the math makes sense, then yes, by all means, leverage them.


Alex: Great. One more question. Is there ever a situation where a brand or hotel should not be on social?


Brandon: Yeah, so, I don’t know if you guys are fans of, I think it’s called Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay. I forget the name of it. There’s this one café, it’s like Jim’s Kitchen or whatever, and they had such a horrible episode that they have been completely vilified on social media. They have become pariahs. And for people like that, yeah, just don’t do it. There’s no reason for you to be on social media because 100% of all of the comments that you’re going to be getting are going to be completely negative. If you already know that you’re a controversial property or maybe you’ve purchased a property from previous owners who had a bad reputation or whatever and you know that you’re going to be walking into that wall right now if you were to try and start a social media strategy, then maybe not, maybe you don’t want to.


Or if you know that you’re having problems with some of your staff and you’re getting poor customer service and you’re getting bad reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor and you haven’t started the social strategy, then maybe now is not the best time. Also, I would take a look at the unique things that are going on at your property. Do you have the manpower or woman power to be able to have a schedule that you stick to? To be able to create the content that is going to be necessary to make your social profiles interesting? If you don’t, then I certainly wouldn’t start it, because there’s nothing worse than a blank social network, than a Twitter feed with one or two tweets, or a Facebook page with one or two Facebook followers.


It just does not look good. So I would only start if you feel like you can commit the next six to twelve months to really having a dedicated person or yourself, doing this from him or herself and dedicating his or her time to making sure that what you produce is excellent and that you’re constantly responding to people on social media and that you’re really massaging those networks so that they can grow and they can evolve into something that’s going to be useful.


Alex: Great.


Brandon: Are there any other questions?


Alex: There’s one more. Let me just read through it real quick.


Brandon: Sure, that’s fine.


Alex: Okay. So, this comment is from Andrea. It says, “I run a hostel, and as you know, from time to time, hostels have “awkward” or even aggressive guests. They have a tendency to express their anger on social media. Is it okay just to delete an aggressive or [inaudible 00:42:06] social media channel, or should I always get into a conversation with the person, even if their work here is useless?”


Brandon: Sometimes you can’t delete an aggressive post. On Facebook, I think you can, especially if they’re coming to your page and they’re posting to your page. In situations like that when it’s abusive and there’s just no redeeming quality whatsoever, then yes, absolutely, I think that’s totally cool to delete it. But I would give you that answer with a little bit of caution because people, especially hospitality people and business owners, they tend to think that any bad news is just really horrible and they’ve got to put the lid on that as quick as possible and snuff that out. But what we’ve found is that if somebody gives you a bad review and you respond to it, that gives you the opportunity to be very gregarious, to show off your cool head, to show off your generosity, to show off your patience, to show off all of these positive attributes about yourself as a hotel owner.


And those really impress guests. So any time there’s something negative about your property, that’s in the public space, guests are guaranteed to see it, because there was a study that showed that the average guest visits 33 to 38 different websites when doing research for the trip. So they’re bound to see your Expedia page and your website and your Yelp page and your Urban Spoon page or whatever page you happen to be on and reading the reviews. So they’re very likely to see that kind of content. But negative criticism gives you an opportunity to make your property look better, to show the world how you’re reacting to this negative criticism. And so those are golden opportunities that I certainly wouldn’t delete. But if it’s just vulgar and there’s a lot of swearing and there’s a lot of abuse, then stuff like that, yeah, if you have the opportunity to delete it, I certainly wouldn’t hesitate.


Alex: Great.


Brandon: Is that everything?


Alex: That is all the questions.


Brandon: All right. Well, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming to our very first thought leadership webinar here at Cloudbeds. We’re going to be having a whole lot more of these. I hope you really liked it. Please give us any and all feedback that you have on this webinar. We have a lot of content that we’re coming out with, so just stay tuned for eBooks and new blog posts and new webinars. Of course also follow us on social media. Alex himself is managing that and he has a lot of fantastic, fun, and amazing things to say. So be sure to check that out. We will have a recording of this up online, which I’m going to be sharing with you in a little bit. And as requested, we will also get this deck published as a PDF so that you can download it if you want to. Anyway, thank you very much for coming to this webinar this Thursday, and I hope you guys have a fantastic rest of the day.


Alex: Great. Thanks, everyone. Cool.