2014 is already gearing up to be an exciting year for destination marketing and marketing hotels online via social media.
What hotel social media trends can you look forward to in the New Year when marketing toward group travel? And, how can your property best implement them into your hotel marketing strategy? Read on:
1. User-Generated Content
UGC will be the biggest thing in social media for 2014. We can all admit to posting endlessly to Facebook and Twitter while on vacation, if just to show our friends and family what they’re missing out on.
Use this type of self-promotion work for your hotel. Create campaigns that allow your guests to post their own pictures. By giving your guests the power to post their own content, you’ll receive priceless feedback and loyalty – not to mention, a wide variety of content that your own hotel marketing team couldn’t come up with! Encourage them to post a short video while they’re on vacation at your hotel, or post a selfie while dining at your restaurant.
Letting your guests participate in your content creation process seems like a pretty bold and innovative step. However, retailers are already using their customer’s own content to build up their sales. 2014 will be the year when hotels will find ways to capitalize on user generated content to increase group bookings at hotels. Take a hint from the wildly popular way that Urban Outfitters is using its own customers’ smartphone images to sell clothing and accessories. They encourage their customers to take pictures of themselves in Urban Outfitter clothes and post to Instagram, along with a designated hashtag.
The retailer moderates the images, then chooses some to be included in a gallery. Within the gallery, the images are then linked to pages where the clothing can be purchased.
2. The New Norm of "Over Sharing"
In 2014, expect your social media followers to share even more about their travels and hotel experiences. As we engage more and more in a digital lifestyle, people are opening up more and stressing about privacy less. While they are not losing their desire for privacy entirely, the threshold has changed. The more people share online and the more their friends and families react to it, the safer they think they are to continue sharing.
As discussed in the previous point about "snackable" content, hotel guests are looking for more bite-sized stories that are easy to digest. Micro-video platforms like Instagram Video and Twitter’s Vine are ideal for this. Vine allows up to 6 seconds of recording, while Instagram Video allows up to 15 seconds. Either way, hotels can use these super short videos to easily produce brief, but poignant, marketing messages.
And remember, you can even rely on user-generated content to build your library of micro-videos. Ask your guests to tag the hotel when posting their own micro-videos enjoying your hotel’s amenities. Or, create your own by going behind the scenes of your kitchen or spa. Studies show that these videos will be most likely viewed by potential guests using their smartphones or tablets, which make them even more powerful in influencing travel decisions. Expect real-time sharing of videos to be even bigger in 2014.
Still unclear how Instagram Video and Twitter’s Vine work? Here is a helpful side-by-side comparison.
4. Snackable Content
According to recent research, an adult’s average attention span is only 8 seconds long. Combined with today’s endless flow of social media content, expect people to take fleeting glances – not thorough reads - at your posts. You need to make every second count by making your social media posts brief, mobile, shareable and easy to digest.
Hotels can create these types of ‘snackable’ content by taking a larger piece of content and breaking it up into smaller pieces of information. Best way to do this is to ALWAYS use visuals in your social media posts and write super short sentences (a max of 2 sentences). For example, when promoting a package at your property, don’t list out all the benefits or the full package description in your social media posts. Instead, take just one detail, such as one included amenity, and post about that. Continue to do that for other pieces of the package in future posts.
Over the past few years, we’ve been told that Google+ was going to be the tour de force of social media. And, while it seemed to be gaining steam, it always fell short of its competitors. However, a 2013 study showed that Google+ now has more than 359 million active users, making it the second most popular social media platform. Many people tout its excellent user experience, with its attractive and clean interface, which makes it a great alternative for those who consider Facebook’s look to be cluttered.
Best of all, Google+ isn’t just any other social media network. It is an integral member of Google’s grand scheme of providing a strongly personalized search experience along with SEO and social signals. With Google+, your hotel will also have a bigger social media trail, which will lead to improving your SEO.
6. Vanishing Social Media Posts
Wondering what those crazy kids are up to next? The hottest social media craze to hit young audiences is Snapchat. With this trendy app, users take and send video and photo messages that self-destruct after a set time. It will either vanish after the recipient views it, or if they are using Snapchat Stories, the message will disappear 24 hours later.
A fun way to incorporate Snapchat in your marketing efforts is to use the scarcity principle to drive more direct bookings. For example, send out a hard-to-resist discount that will live just for 24 hours or use the app to send out a secret discount code that will vanish soon after the message is opened.
At just two years old, no one can say if Snapchat will join the ranks of Facebook or Twitter. However, they offer something that no other social media network does, which ups their chances for long-term success.
Written by Junvi Ola.