The value of a strong social media presence

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Alexander Novicov of IQD Agency highlights the importance of maintaining a strong social media presence for hoteliers and shares some tips on how to improve online image.

A survey found that a prospective hotel's social media presence is important to millennials, with 73 per cent saying that they check the company's social media feed before booking. In fact, 33 per cent would be put off booking altogether if a hotel had no social media presence. In a lot of cases, when a hotel's content and aesthetics are not that great, it creates a negative perception.

If you are not on Instagram, you are missing a huge opportunity as the competition will gladly welcome guests that are looking for accommodation. The inherent value of a strong social media presence is explained below using examples for improvement.

1. Outline a strategy for social media content

A clear and comprehensive strategy about why are we on the platform is crucial. Is it direct bookings we want to achieve? Is it to inspire people? Is it to capture people's attention while they are looking for a hotel?

We need to have a clear purpose behind our posting. Most brands post on social media because they want more sales, but the problem with that is different guests are in different sales cycles. Not every single person on Instagram is interested in 'free breakfast'.

Google has outlined micro-moments that a potential traveller can be in. For example, there's the I-want-to-get-away-moment or the let's-book-it-moment. Social media strategy therefore needs to identify what kind of guests we want to attract, and what kind of content needs to be created in order to cover all aspects of the journey.

There is a comScore study that dived into two million travellers' booking behaviour, and shows that a hotel purchaser takes 89 days to book while visiting 34 websites. During this time, the purchaser reached 182 touch-points before booking.

We need to remember that a hotel's Instagram feed is just one touchpoint out of 182 that determines whether or not a guest will stay at a hotel. Potential guests might ask: is the hotel trendy? Is it a great location? Is it clean? Do they have a pool? The big question you need to ask is: does your content/photography answer the the above questions?

2. Sell the emotion

This one is hard to comprehend because in marketing and business, we've been taught that if you are selling shoes, you need to speak about shoes. If you are selling beds, you need to talk about accommodation. This is no longer the case.

In today's fast-moving world, people don't want to read or listen to ego-boosting adverts. We pay real money every month to avoid advertising and to listen and watch content that we want (Spotify and Netflix).

The solution is to create a story and talk about things other than hotel beds. Talk about a great new restaurant that opened recently, talk about causes that you truly care about. That's why it's important to include everything in your story.

3. Have a purpose

A great story helps you differentiate, to create an emotional connection with your guests, and gives you 'permission' to talk about things you believe in.

A brand story is essentially about your values - what do you stand for? Why does your hotel exist? What change do you want to make? It's not about when your hotel started operating, when it was founded and how great the founder is. It's about values.

Once you create your story, you can talk about the causes you are passionate about. For example, you might want to help people with their wellness, or to eat healthier. You can host weekly events about wellbeing, and write blogs about health. If you want to ignite people's creativity, you can recommend books, suggest new documentaries, or even host speakers.

4. Create meaningful content

Without a strong foundation we can't really create meaningful content. The reason why a lot of hotels don't post on Instagram often is because they don't have a strong foundation and by foundation, I mean a story.

Aesthetics matter, and the best thing to do is plan content for 30-60 days. Do one shoot, and use different posts that support your story and hotel. When a potential guest visits your feed, they will be impressed because you share value with them, and that there is depth in your content.

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