Using Visual Social Media Sites to Market Your Hotel
In the previous article, the benefits of using verbally based social media sites to help increase interest in your hotel resulting in increased bookings and revenue were discussed The importance of choosing sites that cover the different media types while not duplicating effort was pointed out as an important consideration when choosing which sites to join. This led to a discussion of two primary content sites, Facebook and Tripadvisor. These two sites were presented as ideal choices for marketing your hotel brand using a verbal strategy.
It is possible to place photos and embed videos on these two sites and a few great visual representations of your property and surrounding areas will enhance your profile on each one. However, there are better options for creating a visual presentation of your hotel that will show it off to its greatest advantages and can also be used to present the neighborhood including surrounding establishments.
This article will suggest where to focus your efforts when choosing the best photo and video hosting sites for marketing within the hospitality sector. Suggestions on some traditional and non-traditional ways to use these mediums to gain viewers who will share your material will also be provided. By following a few tips, visual media can become a powerful means of impressing viewers and converting visitors to your sites into customers, thereby increasing bookings and revenue.
What are Today’s Travelers Looking for on Social Media Sites for Hotels?
While interesting and fresh content that is frequently updated remains an important factor to draw visitors to your sites, today’s generation wants a unique and impressive visual display of hotels, nearby areas and other features close to various establishments when making decisions on where they want to stay. Although still photography is important to this generation of travelers, they also expect a strong presence on a video site.
You may be thinking that while placing pictures on a site is something that you can readily do, planning, creating and appearing in video clips to represent your hotel is not part of your skill set and find it intimidating. It may seem overwhelming especially for those who were trained to use standard SEO strategies. It this sounds like you, perhaps you might argue, “None of tried and true SEO techniques, ever required me to plan, create or appear in a video,” which you follow with the apparent supporting evidence, “And we did just fine.”
Yet, as everyone has become aware, the old SEO techniques aren’t working anymore due to changes in how search engines rank sites and to survive, businesses, including hotels, must embrace the new ways, one of which is video.
Once you get used to the idea, you’ll be surprised to find how much fun you can have when you let your imagination take over. When you let the creative part of the brain dominate you soon find you’re generating a wide variety of ideas for represent your hotel in imaginative ways that are entertaining and attention grabbing.
Visual Social Media Sites Provide Greatest Benefits for Hotels
Today it is important for hotels to be able to be viewed online, as travelers want to visualize where they will be staying and the surrounding areas. This makes visual sites perfect to round out a social media platform for hotels , in particular those that possess distinct and desirable characteristics. It’s not enough anymore for hotels to post pictures on their website alone. You need to stimulate consumers with visual representations of your hotel, the areas and attractions nearby and other relevant images such as special events or seasonal festivals.
At the same time while still photography can improve perceptions of your hotel, consumers want to see videos that can provide them with a clearer idea of what the hotel and area look like. Using creativity to make unusual and unique video clips will attract visitors and if you produce something that is especially entertaining, visitors may post it on their Facebook page which will reach a different audience. In the best case scenario, you may hit upon an idea that results in a video that goes viral. In this case, you may want to prepare to hire additional help.
Using Flickr and Youtube to Create Your Visual Social Media Marketing Platform
While there are a number of photo and video sites available, the ones that will provide the best presentation for your hotel are Flickr and Youtube.
Flickr – This site hosts what is likely the most active community of photographers and those who just enjoy chronicling important life events. While not the largest photo sharing site, the larger ones are primarily for storing photos or sharing them with a few people. The intention behind the creation of Flickr is to share your photos with as many people as possible. This makes it ideal for marketing purposes. Additionally, your photos can be uploaded for free and there is a large international following which is a key benefit for hoteliers.
Some possibilities for photos that you might want to consider include professional and artistic pictures taken by a photographer. This collection could include photos of your hotel and the area around it, pictures of staff providing service, professionally posed or staged photos such as a romantic couple dressed for a night on the town watching the sunset from their terrace, and professionally composed photos of unusual sites and attractions presented from a creative and unique view.
Viewers also enjoy seeing casual and candid photos such as shots of people enjoying the amenities at your hotel, photos of the city, attractions, and a photo map to your hotel with pictures of landmarks from various travel plazas such as airports, trains and car routes from different directions. Don’t forget people photos which include the hotel staff while they are providing service to customers, and candid shots of staff interacting with guests.
Additionally, you can gain further exposure and receive tips from others in the hotel business by joining any of a number of Flickr groups. These include:
• Great Hotels of the World
• Hotel Chatter
• Hotel Design
• Luxury Hotels
• Hotels & Resorts – Around the World
• Hotel Rooms
YouTube – There’s nothing more powerful than video for creating a presentation intended to increase brand recognition and appeal. Youtube is the most used video site for all types of video including marketing related clips. It has an easy to learn interface for business models which is free, and it’s audience includes numerous viewers who come from every segment of the market population. Youtube has over 800 million new viewers per month, and includes national and international visitors.
There are several key techniques and suggestions that will help you increase your viewers on Youtube.
- Create Regular How-To Videos with Travel Tips – How to Videos are among the most commonly searched for video clips. Thus, they can be used for optimization purposes to draw viewers to videos that include a plug for your hotel and links to your website. For example, try creating videos on how to pack, how to travel with young children, how to make sure you don’t miss your boat (for cruises) or how to plan an itinerary. You can also include do’s and don’ts for each video showing how to do something the best way and the worst way, using humor to make your points.
- Provide Guided Tours – You can create a guided tour of the area or of the major attractions in the nearby, describing them while standing outside and catching visitors as they leave for an impromptu interview.
- Create Staged and On the Spot Interviews – Staff and customers are also great sources of interviews and you can again use humor by creating a skit of what you will never find, or what will never happen, at your hotel. Interspersing these with more serious interviews that provide real opinions from customers or reasons staff love working at your hotel will provide a balanced presentation. This will let you show that in addition to your hotel taking each customers’ experience seriously by focusing on quality service, the staff and owners also have a sense of humor.
- Generate Surprise – Try creating videos that include the unexpected such as a formally attired manager explaining the benefits and amenities of the hotel who then does something silly, for example, jumps in the pool then says something like, “Come on in, the water’s fine.”
When letting your creative side loose there’s no end to the options available to you for creating engaging videos that draw viewers due to their being posted and shared on Facebook pages and having them embedded on your website.
After reading both articles, it’s clear that creating a comprehensive social media presence is time consuming and creates a great deal of work. Yet limiting your presence to the four sites presented in these two articles will make it more manageable and avoid duplicating effort created by placing similar content on similar sites. You can also use specific staff members that have the skills and personality to cover one or more of these channels to ensure each can be updated frequently. By integrating a comprehensive social media marketing component into your overall marketing plan, you have the potential to increase bookings and revenue significantly.
The two articles presented, have provided recommendations for selecting the best social media sites for marketing a hotel, covering all types of media without repetition. Yet a successful social media marketing plan consists of more than just knowing which sites to join, posting new content regularly and responding to reviews in a manner that provides additional positive regard for your hotel. It’s about linking you social media presence to each other and to the other aspects of your marketing plan by creating a story about your hotel and the various ways it can meet various guest needs.
Please stay tuned for our next article on how to use social media to create a story about your hotel that will increase viewers who visit your sites, and create greater interest in your establishment leading to more bookings and greater revenue.
More tips and information:
- Using Facebook and Tripadvisor to Increase Hotel Revenue (Part 1)
- Using Visual Social Media (fastcompany)
- Tips for Boosting Social Media Engagement Through Visual Content (business2community)
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