In the past few years, social media has become the new must have for business that promises to yield untold riches to those that take the plunge. But simply being on Facebook, LinkedIn or having a Twitter account is just the start.
Why social media?
In its purest sense, social media is the digital means to connect you with your customers. Platforms such Twitter and Facebook are awash with real people sharing real experiences and engaging with brands both directly through purpose built pages/communities or indirectly through friends, followers or connections.
For any brand, social media can be a goldmine to help you understand your brand’s true value and relationship to your customers. It can also be the gateway to acknowledging the need to change by listening, reacting and most importantly responding to your audience.
The classic consumer relationship marketing platform
For the hospitality and leisure sector, social media has become an extension of the customer experience. Give your customers a good experience and they’ll tell their friends, but give your customers a bad experience and you run the risk of their friends telling their friends. Add to this the potential global reach of a message via social media and this can either make or break your business.
For a business who deals in people and experiences you must first understand that people buy from people. In the professional services world this is more commonly known as a ‘referral’ but in the hospitality and leisure sector referrals are more commonly known as reviews. You only need to look at TripAdvisor to see the power of reviews in action.
TripAdvisor – Empowering the informed traveller
With over 385 million reviews and opinions on over 6.6 million business and properties in 135,000 destinations, TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site, enabling travellers to unleash the full potential of every trip.
Back in March 2015, Business Insider reported that TripAdvisor is so powerful that it can impact the tourist industry of an entire country!
Having launched instant bookings on the site in September 2015, TripAdvisor has now transformed itself from independent influencer to a trusted advisor. This move has also dramatically changing its business and funding model to become less reliant on advertising sales. This is the power of the consumer to a business.
So you think your business needs or could benefit from social media – what next?
Great! But before you sign-up to every social media channel and invite everyone you know to connect, stop and ask yourself…
…what is my objective?
…how will I measure success?
…where does this fit into my marketing strategy?
…who will be responsible for maintaining these platforms?
Once you have the answers to these questions you’re almost ready. I say almost because without answers to the following, your social media strategy is simply going to fizzle out before it even gets started.
…who are my customers?
…where are my customers? I.e. which social media channels do they use?
…what are they interested in?
…what are my competitors doing?
…how am I going to communicate with them i.e. the type of content?
…is this sustainable? Social media is a 24/7, 365 activity so be honest.
The last of these questions is particularly important. All too often we set ourselves goals which are unattainable and we end up giving up. In social media if you give up or forget your audience will notice and disengage. So what now?
Marketing Advisory Solutions
For many brands and businesses launching a social media strategy is not an achievable objective. This is either through a lack of knowledge, confidence or quite simply time and resource. There are however plenty of digital and marketing agencies who are all too eager to help you reach the viral heights of AirBnB and Sharknado. Once again STOP and think…
…are you prepared to invest in social media for the long term?
…do you trust someone else to represent your brand online?
…are there people within your business with a talent for social media?
Social media continues to be an exciting opportunity for businesses to both market and communicate with customers, but doing it right needs careful planning and preparation. For the hospitality and leisure sector, social media is an extension of your existing customer service. Do it well and you’ll be rewarded; do it badly and everyone will know.