Friday, September 20, 2019

Can LinkedIn Be An Effective Marketing Channel For Hotels?

For those responsible for marketing a hotel, small or large, LinkedIn isn’t always the first channel that comes to mind. With hospitality having business-to-customer relationships at its core, and LinkedIn having such a keen focus on business-to-business relationships, it follows that the platform is quite often ignored in favour of B2C marketing favourites such as Facebook and Instagram.

So for hotels, is there a time and a place for LinkedIn as part of a marketing strategy? Can it be used effectively, or should you ignore it? LinkedIn can be a tough nut to crack – is it worth the effort?

It’s all about your audience

The answer to these questions lies with your audience. As with any marketing activity, you should always consider your targets and what audience you want to reach, before getting started.

The most common mistake we see hotels make is that they adopt a scattergun approach; sharing the exact same content to every digital channel they have, aiming at anyone and everyone who’ll listen, and all the while hoping some of it sticks.

This approach simply wastes your time. Not only your time but your marketing budget too. If instead, you focus in on a defined audience and tailor your approach to that audience, then there’s a much greater chance that you will engage those customers effectively.

According to Hootsuite’s research, there are now over 590 million users on LinkedIn, with 45% of theses users being classed as upper management or decision-makers. That’s a staggering 265.5 million – it’s clear to see that LinkedIn is where business people congregate.

With that in mind, if reaching a business audience is a key aim in your marketing plan, and you want to build your corporate business, LinkedIn should not be ignored.

Creating your profile, the right way

Let’s take a look at how to get set up on LinkedIn and how to approach the platform in a way that ensures a decent return for your hard work.

Presuming you already have a personal LinkedIn account, you need to set up a company profile for the hotel. You can start creating your profile at https://www.linkedin.com/company/setup/new/. You then simply need to follow through the onboarding process answering all questions honestly. While we won’t go into the superfine detail of the setup process here, here are some key areas to make sure you get right…

  • Get the name right – It sounds simple, but if you get this wrong people might struggle to find you on LinkedIn. Make sure this is consistent with all your other marketing material too. For example, if your hotel’s full title is “The Coniston Hotel Country Estate & Spa”, don’t call your page “Coniston Hotel”.
  • Write your description well – Don’t just copy your company description from your website, instead use this space to succinctly outline what your hotel has to offer to a corporate audience, putting a particular focus onto the unique selling points that make your hotel stand out from the rest.
  • Use imagery well – Your profile image should be your logo, clear crisp and recognisable. LinkedIn often crops this to a circle shape, so ensure the graphic works well in circular form too. At the time of writing, your logo image should be 300 pixels square.When it comes to your cover image, we’d always recommend using professional photography of your hotel – don’t put text over the top of this. At the time of writing, your page’s cover image should be sized to 1536 x 768 pixels before you upload it.
  • Include a link to your website – Don’t forget to fill this in, it’ll help interested parties find out more about you. If you have a landing page created especially for your corporate audience considering including that here instead of just linking to your home page.

Growing a company following

Typically growing followers for a company page on LinkedIn is tough. Even larger independent hotels and some chains struggle to reach more than around 750.

  • Organic growth – This takes time and effort but is fruitful in the long run. Keep your company profile active and populated with quality, audience-appropriate content and this should slowly draw in followers. Don’t forget to link to your company profile on your website, and perhaps in your email signatures too.
  • Ask for follows – Sending direct messages to your personal connections and asking them to follow your company page is always an option to get you started. Always include a link to your company profile in your message so they can easily follow you.
  • LinkedIn’s tools – LinkedIn does have some limited options for growing company page following. Firstly, you can use some advertising spend to promote your company profile.Secondly, LinkedIn are slowly rolling out an “Invite connections” button which will make the process a lot easier for you. Not everybody has this option available yet – but lucky users will see an “Invite connections” option appear under “Admin tools” while viewing their company profile.

Getting the message out

Once your company profile has been published, the same rules apply as with all other social media channels you manage; post quality, engaging content on a regular basis.

As we mentioned before, LinkedIn’s members form a business-specific audience, it’s critical to your success that you tailor the messages you put out to fit this audience.

Firstly, you need to tailor the areas you focus on here (likely a great focus on meeting spaces, retreats and conferences rather than areas like weddings or dining) and secondly, the imagery and tone of writing you use (a business audience may expect a more formal tone).

You’re using LinkedIn to reach a different audience to those who you’ll speak to on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. Make sure your content, imagery, and style of writing reflect and attract the audience you’re approaching here.

Groups and communities

It helps to request to join relevant groups. There you can join in with discussions, find potential opportunities and post your page’s content. Promoting your content to the appropriate groups is a relatively easy way to reach even more relevant customers.

Depending on your aims, you may simply want to join local groups such as your local chamber of commerce, or perhaps reach out to event planners who may consider your hotel as a venue. If you’re targetting a specific sector, you can even get involved in groups dedicated to that particular industry.

Making it personal

Your personal profile is important too – make sure you have a professional headshot as your profile image, your full name on there, and that your current job role is correct and connected up with your company profile.

Be sure to make use of your personal connections. While the LinkedIn team are working to expand the capabilities of company pages further, at its heart LinkedIn will always be about networking and personal connection.

Use your personal profile to connect with your target audience, and share your company page’s content with more people that way. Get owners and key members of staff on board with that too – they have connections you might not be able to reach.

Don’t be shy, and make sure you regularly make new connections. You can even get strategic and request connections with employees at a specific business you’d like to target and send them direct message introductions.

Paid advertising through LinkedIn

Be sure to use your advertising budget wisely. If you’re using a budget to promote posts on social media, which you should definitely be doing on Facebook, you may find you don’t as get much return for your spend through LinkedIn.

LinkedIn ads do have their advantages though. They’re very targetable, allowing you to pinpoint your audience down to specific job titles, information that Facebook just doesn’t have. While LinkedIn ads can be worth a trial run if you need that level of specificity, but we usually find that it’s more cost-effective to divert the majority of advertising spend into Facebook ads.

Where it fits, it works

LinkedIn should never be the entirety of your whole digital marketing strategy. Most hotels will also want to promote their consumer offering to audiences on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter too.

Remember that LinkedIn will only be truly successful if the business audience that resides there is a group you want to target and matches with your hotel’s brand and offering.

And while it’s not the go-to platform for most hotels, when used for the right reasons to reach a specific audience, LinkedIn can produce some solid results; from an increase in brand awareness through to conference bookings.

Ben Walker, Arise
Ben Walker, Arisehttps://wearearise.com/
Arise are one of the UK’s top digital specialists in social media and web design for the hospitality and tourism sectors. While we work with a broad range of sectors, we’ve come to develop a deep understanding and a love for the hospitality and tourism industry in particular. We continue to work alongside all our clients to provide a full digital service, from web design to social media management, that represents their establishment at its best and maximises their marketing potential.

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