Jack Appleton, Community Manager at Innside by Meliá Manchester, shares his top tips for taking social media in hospitality to the next level
Content is King
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to social media in hospitality. Five years ago, it was fine to roll out the same content across all of your platforms, but today it just won’t cut it. Content is king and it’s more important than ever that you get it right. Post regularly and consistently and make the investment in quality content. Unprofessional images aren’t going to get you any new customers, so, invest in great photography or, even better, great video content.
You need to figure out what platforms work best for your brand and tailor your content accordingly. If you’re finding that guests regularly geotag content when in your hotel using Instagram, it’s likely a large portion of prospective guests and customers sit in this space too.
For Innside, LinkedIn is key. A common mistake is just to scroll through the feed looking for posts asking for business recommendations, but it’s lazy – and people know it. Set out to be a trusted source; jump into other conversations and share your expert opinion – this way you’ll enhance your reach and be first in mind when a potential client is looking for a venue or hotel.
Don’t be afraid to partner up with other brands and organisations. It’s not always all about you and your industry – sometimes the best engagement comes when you’re sitting alongside another brand, talking about each other in a positive way. Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you see the absolute value in partnering with them. Ask yourself, can you champion each other in the social space? At Innside, we partnered with a Rugby Union team – not an obvious choice for a hospitality brand, but thinking outside of the box worked and drove awareness and traffic to our channels.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Picking up and putting down social media management is a huge bugbear of mine and I see lots of hospitality businesses doing it. There’s a direct connection between prospective guests browsing your social profiles converting into paying guests, so social media needs to sit at the top of your priorities. You have to make a consistent commitment to your social channels – not just with your budget but with your time too. Excellent customer service is, of course, important, but it comes once your guest has made up their mind to reach out and connect with you. You need to be ready and waiting!
At Innside, social media is very much a team effort. We’re always sharing ideas on WhatsApp groups and over email to make sure that we’re constantly evolving. Discuss all of your ideas and come up with a social strategy for the coming weeks and months that you all agree on. Always remember to be honest with yourself and think about what you can realistically execute. There’s no point over-committing yourself and doing things half-heartedly.
Take a look at what comparative brands are doing and think about how you could adapt this concept and put your own stamp on it. Make sure you budget for adverts on social media. It’s incredibly cheap and, if used correctly, can bring lots of new business through your doors. More importantly, to make sure you get the most from social ads, understand your analytics so you can measure the results of your efforts.
Don’t forget that the social media landscape is constantly evolving, so whoever is looking after this space for you needs to be researching all of the time. There are a ton of free tools, guides and e-books, so read, listen to what’s changing, and adapt as best you can.
Create a Narrative
I often hear that hotel ‘x’ or brand ‘y’ is more ‘traditional’ so social ‘doesn’t work for them’, but there’s really no excuse. Your customers are in this space – you should be too. Prospective guests are buying into experiences on social media and if you aren’t showcasing your brand as an experience through great content, then they aren’t buying into you.
It’s so important to give whoever is managing this space in your business creative license. Social media is, of course, subjective and you won’t always nail it the first, or even second, time, but it’s about working together to carve out a distinctive voice for your brand. Consider: What makes your venue different from its competitors? What sort of experience do you hope to give every person that walks through the doors? Who do you want to see at your venue? How does your venue and brand fit into this person’s life? Brainstorm ideas using questions like these and then build your narrative around it.