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Investing in social software.

Social software, digital strategy, hotel marketing, digital community, Facebook, twitter, management, update, content, posting, monitoring, creation, production

Hotel managers understand that social media channels are too important to ignore. That’s why your hotel is on Facebook, on Twitter, and maybe you’re even trying out Instagram or Snapchat. But honestly, it’s a bit unclear to you what the ROI of this online stuff is. And updating all social channels and pages cost money and or time. Social software seems to be a great investment to do this job; you create one message, and it gets posted along the channels you want. And social software delivers eye-candy; you can look at your own created statistics in a nice looking dashboard. Yes, with social software you are ready to assign someone in your team to become a social media manager. Yeeeeh.

Social software

But is social software really handy or a just an easy way to get time-consuming job done? The fact is that no matter what software you use, it all starts with a digital strategy and the right content. Posting the same messages across different channels means missing the capabilities of the different channels. Twitter is no Facebook and Facebook is no Instagram. Every channel has its conceptual environment; you have to think about what is useful and relevant for the people on that channel. If you look at social media as a mass media channel to drop down your commercial messages, you will not get a lot of feedback from your audience. Social media are what it is says; social. That’s why every channel has its own etiquette, and if you do good, you will get more friends or followers.

When I explain our content creation and the cross-border inbound marketing services to hotel owners in South Africa, Asia Europe and the U.S., they listen and then say ‘Sounds all great Ab. But I just invested in social software Hubspot, so we will be OK for the moment.’

It’s like you bought the baking machine, but didn’t think about the ingredients to actually bake something. No matter if you use Crafted, Hootsuite, SproutSocial, Buffer, SocialOomph, IFTTT, Tweepi or SocialFlow; to make this software useful, you need a plan. A digital strategy and a social format.

Social format
If you have to think every day about what content you will place today or this week, it becomes difficult to come up with something nice, good looking or funny. Software will not help you; what you need to create is a social format. A social format is what publishers use for their editorial formula; a little bit of human interest mixed with a little bit of fun and some popular know-how. It is a little bit of everything; in a balanced mix to keep everybody happy. And every piece of content has to have a logical connection with your hotel and your area.

Is your bartender great? Make a weekend cocktail blog and don’t forget to invite people for a cocktail workshop (in the weekend package). If you have a great view, use that image for a daily fresh morning picture on Instagram. Want to give away a voucher for your new restaurant, do some quizzes on Facebook. If you want to share the latest news about your area, use Twitter. It’s all about being relevant and most useful on the channel that fits best. Maybe you have great stories that are suitable for a podcast for city walks. Or your ambience and background music is so great like at the CitizenM hotels, people often ask what music you play. We could help you to set up an online radio station so people stay connected after they’ve left. Is it important? Yes, if you like your guests to come back and recommend you with their friends and family. Is it expensive? Not at all, it is for free, and you create another piece of unique content to please and to attract your guests. A digital strategy is fundamental for your digital community. Software can help to distribute, but you have to fill in the dots first.

How to make a plan
We understand that running a hotel and being a social media publishing house at the same time does not always go together. There are also too much social software or SAAS (Software As A Service) and apps and plug-ins available that all claim to make your on-line social marketing job easier and do magical things. Search in Google, Bing or Yahoo for ‘social media management software’ and you see lots of paid Adwords links in the research. A sign that social software is commercially interesting enough for the producers to spend that money.

If you are not used to analyzing and do front-line work of testing and selecting what social software works and what not, you will get lost in the woods. Innovative online marketing will help to improve certain processes in your hotel. It will generate more awareness online and with that, generate more direct website traffic. And if your product looks appealing on your website, you will get more direct bookings, based upon what you have to offer as a total, not just based on the room rate.

Investing in social software will not do the ‘online trick’ for you; you need creative marketing driven people to create the content. These people can create content to positively influence all commercial aspects of your hotel. If you have that digital strategy in place, you can start thinking what social software might be useful.

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