Social media is a great tool for independent hotels that want to better establish their brand, extend their digital reach and, most importantly, establish stronger relationships with travelers. However, hoteliers who are new to using social media for business, or new to social media entirely, should understand that the “rules” are different from how it’s used as an individual. To help avoid some of the hard lessons learned by others, here are three rookie mistakes independent hoteliers should avoid on social media.
Developing content “on the fly”
The most common underestimation about using social media for business is the amount of time and effort required to develop a strong content strategy. Independent hotels should use social media to tell a story about their brand and the experiences travelers can expect during their stay. To accomplish this, hoteliers must write and schedule content in advance, as opposed to posting “on the fly” as many do in their personal lives. This is where a content calendar proves extremely valuable. Using a content calendar to support social media efforts helps independents tell a coherent brand story while weaving in special offers, travel tips, local information and all other types of content that get travelers excited about booking rooms.
Finding your voice
Finding the perfect tone of voice on social media takes some trial and error, but here are two approaches that should always be avoided:
- Too corporate: Social media is a place for casual, fun conversations, so sounding “too corporate,” such as referring to hotel regulations, terms and conditions to handle guest issues, generally does not go over well. In cases where serious conversations are required, moving offline by offering to call or email guests directly allows hoteliers to fix issues privately and avoid potentially testy public exchanges.
- Too casual: Communicating too casually by using abbreviations and slang on social media can put independent hoteliers on a slippery slope. It can look unprofessional and take away from the overall brand message if it becomes too casual. Social media should be treated as an extension of a hotel’s brand identity, so upkeeping its integrity is a critical task.
Not responding to comments and questions
Not responding to comments and questions is where many independent hotels make their biggest rookie mistakes on social media. Hoteliers must remember that social media activity must be managed daily just like all other operational responsibilities. Not responding due to inactivity or ignoring certain messages can have a negative impact on a hotel’s broader brand image. To properly manage the wide range of comments and questions that may be posted, hoteliers should research other businesses to see how they handle inquiries and then create an internal process and tools to help them stay on-brand when responding on social media.
Making mistakes is a part of learning something new, so don’t let the advice above hold back any attempts at trying social media for your independent hotel. As you’ll learn, the long-term benefits of social media far outweigh any short-term issues you’ll experience. Good luck!