Social media has earned its place as a hotel marketing tool. Now that you’ve adopted social, the way forward is about maximizing its value at your hotel, and making sure that your activity is as tailored as the experience you offer guests in person.
Social media strategies should be built for the long-term but in a rapidly changing environment, they also need to take into account new features and ever changing user habits. We recently wrote about 5 Important Hotel Social Media Trends for 2017. In this post, we present to you in short-form the social media trends most likely to have an impact on your hotel in 2017.
1. Cater Social Media Content to Compete With Airbnb
Airbnb is valued at $7.5 billion and has siphoned a huge amount of business — half-a-billion dollars each year, by some estimates — from traditional and boutique hotels. Research firm Phocuswright found that in 2015 one-third of U.S. travelers booked non-traditional, home-based accommodation. That’s a noteworthy jump from only 1 in 10 in 2011.
To fight this trend, hotels should create social media content that Airbnb-proofs their business. A popular option is to show guests that your team is available to help create a bespoke, individual vacation experience in ways that hands-off, absent Airbnb operators can’t manage. You can do this by featuring the people (and their individual personalities) who are part of your team in the content you create for your social media accounts.
2. Live Video Is Here to Stay
Visual, active, and current; the number of tools available to boutique hotels to tell a compelling story to potential guests has increased greatly over the past three years.
Last year, the biggest news in this department was Instagram Stories. In August 2016, the Facebook-owned company gave users the ability to publish short video clips (or photos) that disappear after 24 hours. Obviously, this new feature was designed to compete directly with Snap (the network formerly known as Snapchat.)
Could Instagram Stories Replace Snapchat?
It’s possible that Instagram Stories will be one of the biggest social media news stories of 2017. Consider that:
- In it’s first three months, it already had 100 million daily active users.
- Six-months in, they had 150 million daily users, which is equal with where Snapchat said they were in June 2016.
- Instagram chose to swim against the current and start giving advertisers the opportunity to show their spots to users as they watch their friends’ stories.
Different Strategies for Creating Social Media Content
Major differences to consider when creating content for networks that feature ephemeral video are:
- With traditional text-and-image-based networks, one team member can find articles to share, another can write the copy, while a third sets the scheduling.
- For Snap and Instagram Stories it makes more sense for a single team member to be in charge of this entire process.
- Stories and Snaps can deliver a multi-part message, but they all disappear after a day, so content should be “episodic.”
- Don’t assume that followers see all of your episodes.
3. Less Broadcasting, More Conversing
“What networks should we be putting our stuff out on?” is a natural place for hotels to begin discovering social media.
“You should be sharing where your customers are listening,” is the first part of the answer, but the converse is just as important. In 2017, brands need to be listening where their customers are most comfortable engaging with them.
Messaging Apps Are Taking Over
This may sound like good news for Twitter, the original combination of broadcasting and conversing, but other options have sprung up.
- WhatsApp Messenger has emerged, with hotels such as Barcelo Illetas Albatros using the app to offer any-place, any-time customer service.
- Chinese messaging app, WeChat, has launched their Mini Program service, allowing users to interact with companies and complete transactions to make a hotel reservations.
- Since 2015, Hyatt has been using Facebook Messenger as a tool for serving customers at all stages from pre-booking to post-checkout.
4. The Slow Death of Organic Social
Long gone are the days of building successful social media followings with nothing but effort. Just as in almost every other industry, the rising importance of paid social ads will be a key trend for hotels to address in 2017.
When we sit down with boutique hotel clients to draw up a plan for paid social media campaigns, Facebook is often where we’ll start. The stats are remarkable:
- Mobile made up nearly 80% of the paid advertising revenue for Facebook in 2016.
- As early as October 2014, Facebook was already reporting a 247% year-over-year increase in the price of ads it serves. Learning on the job is becoming increasingly expensive — expertise offers a competitive advantage.
Prepare Your Business for 2017’s Changing Social Media Landscape
In 2017, hotels looking to stay ahead of the curve will need to:
- Embrace video, especially the short-lived kind that are posted on Instagram Stories and Snapchat.
- Close the gap between blasting marketing messages and answering the questions that make customers comfortable enough to book with you.
- Strategically deploy paid social media to go with your organic social media activity.
- Tighten your focus on the social networks that make the most sense for your customers.
- Be cognizant of the great hotel social media trend — the rise of Airbnb.
Social media trends are moving quicker than ever, meaning the value of experience and expertise is increasing. There’s never been a more important time to prepare your hotel to take advantage of changing social media trends.