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December 28, 2012 / BSP Marketing

Hotel Management are Turning from Traditional SEO Strategies to Social Media Marketing

Search engine optimization continues to generate millions of dollars for self-styled experts who promise to put your business on the first page of search results based primarily on the keywords they choose. Previously, it was enough to manipulate the companies meta-data which refers to code that identifies the business to search engines to increase rankings for relevant keywords.

Today, however, SEO is becoming less efficient with each passing week . Google fails to significantly emphasize meta-data currently . The old strategies that SEO experts learned to ensure your site remained ranked on the first page are now the exact same strategies that, at best, will provide little to no increase in rankings and could your site penalized or even banned.

The way to ensure high rankings in today’s post Panda / Penguin world is old fashion gusto. This means getting your business naturally mentioned on blogs and social media sites. While SEO may not be dead, the initials of the day are SMO – Social Media Optimization. This means getting back to basics, cutting out the tricks and using effort instead to create marketing campaigns that are exciting, interesting, and engaging. In other words, you now must strive to develop content that not only informs but also entertains in order for it to be picked up by blogs, get re-tweeted, and result in the formation of natural links back to your site.

In the past several years the ultimate goal has changed – now the ideal outcome is not limited to how high your site is ranked but instead for your site to go viral. This change has switched the antecedent and the response. Previously, rankings lead to success through controlling the location of your site’s page listing. Now your site’s success, as demonstrated through popularity on numerous social media sites, will precipitate high rankings. This can only happen when you alter your focus from SEO to SMO and learn how to become a social media marketer.

The Importance of Social Media Involvement for Hotels

The technological developments occurring in our world have also changed the manner in which travelers make decisions regarding hotel patronage and how they book reservations. As mobile devices have become the norm for communication and obtaining information, today’s travelers want to quickly access relevant information about establishments and to connect with them through the ability to have a conversation with a hotel representative in real time.

Customer created content such as reviews, comments, compliments and complaints are expected to be taken seriously by hotel management and are monitored by potential customers. Consumer generated content and the resulting responses from hotel personnel have been shown to be one of the largest determinants of travelers’ choice of accommodations.

It’s Not Too Late to Learn

The amazing growth of Social Media has created an entirely new professional title – Social Media Expert. Prior to Google’s new algorithms for page rankings and the advent of such sites as Facebook and Twitter, the presence of experts in social media was somewhat muted. However, as the success of social media marketing has taken off, the need to know the ins and outs of this type of marketing is crucial whether you hire an expert in the area or learn to do it yourself.

Many business professionals believe that gaining expertise in social media marketing is too complex to undertake themselves, especially if they’ve used traditional marketing strategies up until now. They often fear that it’s too late to learn how to take advantage of this new domain which is focused on social media marketing techniques. Yet, as with most things, it is never too late to learn a new skill, and the process of using social media for brand marketing can be far less intimidating than many imagine.

Those who are just beginning to become acquainted with social media often believe the lack of any active accounts on at least one of these sites indicates they’ve missed the trend and it’s too late to join in. Yet it is not a problem if you don’t have a Facebook, Twitter or other social media account. There are more important factors that will predict your success in using social media to build your business. These include that you are ready to start working on your social media campaign immediately, that you recognize the need to open various social media accounts and you are aware of the importance of creating the best possible profile on each social media site you join.

If you can say that you are committed to working towards these three goals, then your motivation will keep you moving forward as you gain increasing skills in utilizing social media marketing. You will likely even find it isn’t that difficult once you decide to dive in.

General Recommendations for Using Social Media Management Strategies

There are a number of basic tactics to focus on in order to succeed in the social media arena. It may seem overwhelming at first, especially for business owners who have been operating their own SEO campaigns or using a service provider to do so for them. Yet SEO was once a foreign concept also and once managers get the hang of how to use social media to the company’s advantage, they will quickly see the benefits provided.

If you can’t manage all aspects of the social media part of your marketing plan, there are experts who can provide you with assistance. Some of the beginning steps to get you started on your way down the social media road are listed below.

Create a Complete Marketing Plan – While managing your social media sites may seem a bit overwhelming when you’re first getting accustomed to using them, don’t drop your other marketing strategies. It’s important to create a comprehensive marketing plan which includes social media as one of the major components but not the only one.

Don’t Necessarily Follow the Leader – While it may seem logical to follow the leaders in your field, you are less likely to get useful information from these giants than from the general players in your field. Instead, find as many people working in your area that you can, then follow them on their social media channels. Sites like FollowerWonk.com will provide the names of those in your field, area, industry and location.

Make sure to respond to all general public questions these individual’s ask. These people in your field will have the most recent information. Following them regularly will keep you up to date on what is going on with the leaders in your area far faster than trade publications or posts from the giants themselves. If an individual’s business is one of the top in the industry, the last thing they’ll be posting is specifics about how they got there. However, if you follow enough people in your business area you will learn behind the scenes information that you won’t find elsewhere.

Respond, Respond, Respond – Make sure when following all these people in your field that you respond to all general public questions they ask . Over time this will make your name familiar to them and when you have an important question about managing social media you will be more likely to receive useful information quickly.

Respond Some More – Not only should you respond to the people working in your field, but once you have a twitter account and are comfortable tweeting regularly, make sure to respond to anyone who addresses you in some way or responds to something that you wrote. Those just re-tweeting your comments without adding something aren’t contributing anything useful.

However, be sure to reply to those who send commentary, objections, additional content related to what you tweeted or questions in order to keep your online presence noticeable on this channel. Don’t reply however, unless you can add something of value as opposed to fluff. Replying to others also means that much less unique information you have to generate.

Stay Up to Date –The advances in technology that are occurring so regularly in today’s world also lead to changes in social media sites, the creation of new social media sites, and new applications of social media marketing. Read quality social media blogs and find ways to establish online connections with social media experts who can inform you of new developments before they occur. Most importantly, become comfortable with change.

Identify and Join All Relevant Networks – Make sure to join the main social networking sites and to post an engaging and approachable profile on each one. However, it’s not enough to join networks and provide a profile. When you commit to a social media network remember it’s intended for networking. Post content as often as possible providing it reflects something of substance and begin and/or join conversations frequently.

Ease the Burden with Bundled Services – There are several software packages available to help you manage your social media presence and provide a consistent brand impression. For example, Graviti™ Social Media Optimization supplies social media management and optimization for Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Twitter, four of the most popular social media sites. Training and support are included.

Attend Social Media Gatherings – It’s important to attend social media events where you can network with other social media experts and gain from their experiences. While some may be more structured such as conferences, most areas have Meetup groups which tend to be more informal and which can be located on the internet.

Final Comments

You may feel reluctant to become a part of the social media marketing arena due to your sense of comfort and familiarity with what’s worked for you in the past. SEO may not be entirely dead but it’s not going to significantly alter your ROI or customer base and it’s certainly never going to turn you into one of your industry’s giants. Yet with proper management a strong social media presence will ensure your business is noticed across the internet, compel people to talk about you and make your business stand out from your competition. As you become more at ease with this new approach to marketing, you may even find yourself enjoying the interactions with others as you promote your business at the same time.
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