As a marketing instrument, social media is still a relative newcomer. Marketing professionals still use many traditional methods to engage with their customers, often to the detriment of their social media accounts. This is, perhaps, unsurprising, considering some of the difficulties and variables that come with social media marketing. When it goes wrong, it can go very wrong.
However, if used wisely and thoughtfully, social media has the biggest reach of any marketing tool yet devised. For a hospitality business, it can act as a beacon to potential customers and clients to let them know you are there.
If you are putting together a social media strategy for your hospitality business, there a few things to bear in mind before you hit the post.
How people interact with social media is fantastically variable. Everyone comes at content from different angles with different sensibilities. For those creating content, it is tricky to fully grasp how posts will be received once they are out in the world, and once they’re out, they’re out. The idea of creating ‘good’ content is open to interpretation.
Your content should be consistent, presenting an ongoing brand presentation. Images and text you share should be sourced responsibly and with the utmost attention to insight. Your social media followers should view as an authority in your local area and respect your judgment regarding your field.
Current events dominate social media. It has become a staple, go-to, resource for people to get some insight into the changing world around them. Often, social media is full of distressing events from around the globe, which has brought the general public greater awareness and sensitivity. This can mean that an ill-timed, or ill-judged tweet or Instagram post can be a PR disaster.
The hospitality business should be especially sensitive to current events as they progress. In the past, some businesses have relied on automated social media tools to post for them, but this can backfire. That tweet you’d scheduled three months ago may now have some very unfortunate context to it. Social media accounts need vigilant management.
One of the greatest blessings of social media is the social aspect of it. In real-time, businesses can interact with customers or potential clients on a public forum. This means it can also be one of the greatest drawbacks of social media. Very quickly, if you have a critical social media follower, the public conversation can become embarrassing for the unwitting hospitality provider.
Of course, it is crucial to respond and engage with your customers. But if, for instance, you have a recent guest who is less than satisfied, you should always seek to engage with them privately rather than broadcasting your interactions out there for the world to see. Engagement on a public platform is impossible to control.
Trending topics are here to stay. All industries look for ways to hijack and capitalize on hashtags in a bid to get their marketing messages out to a wider audience. But sometimes trending topics are not relevant to a particular business. This can make your business seem transparent, disingenuous, and overtly commercial.
Social media users don’t like to have their public discourse hijacked by a business looking to make a quick buck. When considering whether to latch on to a trending topic, you should ask yourself whether your business really does have anything to add to the conversation. In addition, attaching an irrelevant marketing post onto the end can show a true lack of conscientiousness.
Lastly, social media accounts for a hospitality business are in no way similar to private ones. The tone of private social media accounts are informal, show bias in many cases and, when things don’t go right, are affected only briefly. If a business social media account shows the same facets of a private one the effects can be much longer-lasting and much more damaging.
It’s critical that whoever is managing your social media account has an understanding of appropriate discourse. That’s not to say it should be impersonal either. You should ensure that your social media manager is sensitive to the needs of the public and the needs of the business, retaining a balance between friendliness and professionalism, as well as having a great sense of humor.
Aimee Laurence is an experienced entrepreneur who writes for College Paper. She is an expert in hospitality and helps brands with social media.
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