The goal of this post is to give you some power-starter strategies for Facebook and your small to medium hotel. You don’t want to waste your life away on Facebook (easily done!). You want tactics that give you a measurable engagement, for minimum ongoing effort.
So if you haven’t already created a Facebook page for your hotel, what are you waiting for?! Go here. Add a description, your location and a few pics. You will then at the least, have another placeholder about you for customers and Google to reference.
Okay lets put this in its place:
How much effort you should put into your Facebook page depends on how much of a destination your venue is, the typical age of your customers and the affinity that is possible to you.
How much of a destination are you?
Is your hotel a weekend escape or a city break place? Are you a Sunday lunch place? Do you have an epic location? Do you have a spa where people come to relax? Do you have 70’s themed nights? Is your bar the after-work place people want to be seen to be at, or a live music venue? Are you a holiday hotel? Is your customer service end-of-earth amazing? – These are all compelling reasons that make your place a destination, unique and totally Facebook marketable.
If a stay at your hotel is only a teeny tiny part of why the person is staying in the area (think business hotel or interchangeable basic hotel), then don’t waste too much time on Facebook. Create a page, update it occasionally. Done.
Stop: Do you use Facebook yourself?
If not you need to either start using it personally, or rope in a 20 or 30-something member of staff/family that lives on this platform. Understanding the grammar of this platform is essential to gaining traction.
The basic strategy is to post regularly, with reality
So post regularly, several times a times a week with things like:
- New seasonal menu, the thought behind what went into that dish, words from the chef
- Mothers day gift package plus a mother/daughter pic
- The refurb of the your big suite, and what a happy couple said about their stay
- New historical attraction nearby, here’s what we thought
- Words for a happy couple getting married tomorrow
- Reception staff thoughts on the 5 day weather forecast
- Always tie in with seasonal stuff like time for a summer town stroll and a beer in the sun
- That cheese festival that’s happening next weekend
- Won any awards? Say so!
- Why your new Barman thinks a Long Island Iced Tea is still underrated
- And yes when you have availability or offers put them here
These kind of posts will all show your place has personality and a vibe. The right mix would be around 80% content, and 20% salesy stuff.
Why not take a look at some hotels that are doing it right on Facebook for inspiration:
A picture for every post
Make it a habit to take picture or find a picture for nearly every post. Don’t just have the 5 day forecast; take a pic of the sun rising. Don’t just say Mark our barman has created a new cocktail; show a pic (or vid!) of Mark spinning the cocktail. Don’t just have a post about Father’s day offer; have a fantastic father/son pic.
And update your cover photo regularly. This gives instant freshness to your page.
Get the Facebook pages mobile app
Make your life easier, and post pics to you page from your phone, without the fuss of having to login to your page on a PC, by getting the Facebook Pages Mobile App Manager (iPhone | Android), so that you post as you go about your daily hotel life. Simple.
Have you got a short username & check-in location?
If your Facebook page address has loads of numbers after it, you can shrink it down to something more memorable. Go to your page > edit settings >basic information and give yourself a shorty name.
Similarly, does your page have a geographical location? If so, you will see a “432 people were here” (or similar) in your page header:
If not go to your page > edit settings >basic information and put a pin on the map! Side note: this sometimes takes 30 goes to get it to accept, as you have to get the right address/postcode combination that Facebook likes. This also has some proven search engine benefit.
But wait! This all sounds like hard work
It’s good you stopped me there, because I’ve just increased your workload creating this “real” Facebook page presence. Lets dip straight in and see how it can plug in to social networks and get results.
The Basic Facebook power strategy is to work with the guests that you have.
1. Get people excited about staying at your place
In your booking confirmation (or pre-arrival email), add “Why not check us out on Facebook <link> to see the real <hotel name> and what Chris the Chef has conjured up in our delicious Summer menu”.
By having a real-life statement about what is going on at your hotel or area then people looking at your Facebook page, before they’ve even set foot in your place, should get a warm glow towards you – and what with being in a customer service industry.
2. Engage them afterwards
Similarly, in your thank you for staying email, you can use this as a hook for asking for engagement: “Enjoyed your stay, why not post a picture from your stay in <city> or in our hotel?”
I would suggest you alternate this with your “If you enjoyed your stay, why not say so on Trip Advisor <link here>?” statement, as you don’t want to be asking for two favours in one email.
Side note: if you have booking software you can usually automate these pre-arrival and thank you emails. If not start doing them anyway – they should be an important part of your engagement strategy (more another time).
3. Integrate with your website
Integrate Facebook with your website, have a “like us on Facebook” button (make sure your web developer make is so that you that likes your hotel not your website!)
4. Respond to people if they post
If someone posts to your page for whatever reason, write a quick response! Even if it’s just thanking them for their post and you hope to see them soon. It makes peoples hearts and social networks tingle when you re-engage with them.
Again if you have the Facebook Pages Mobile Manager app, then you (or your staff) can message instantly right from your smartphone, saving time.
5. Share to your page’s Timeline when someone posts
As a page admin you can then share their post to your page’s timeline (click on it and press “Share”) to elevate its presence on your page; from being in a small box amongst others, it can be a news item in its own. Doing this infiltrates more of that guests network and makes your page inherently more social.
6. Ask questions
This works well once you have a few people looking at your page, you can then leverage them. “Should we have a Robbie Williams tribute act? or Abba!? Let us know” or “What’s your fave item from our breakfast?”. Of course if its one-way and you get zero response, ditch this strategy until you have engagement.
7. Get familiar with Facebook Insights
Just like you check your website analytics to get a feel of where website visitors come from and what the quality of visitors are like, you can and should do this with your Facebook stats too. It’s easy once you grasp the difference between “People talking about this” and “weekly reach”. And what a 7 day moving average means.
The list immediately below the graph shows you what content you had, has had the best reach. Pay attention to this, it can make you hone what you post to your page and when.
Anything that you do on Facebook should be looked at from a campaign perspective; so that you can try something, see its uptake, and if it works keep it, if not move on.
8. Incentivise Check-ins, Likes and Shares
Offering a free cup of coffee for people that Like or check-in on Facebook, is a low cost way to show that you are a place-to-be-at and get into a new friends friendship networks.
Be wary, in its most straight forward way, this is against Facebook terms and conditions. The way to do it is to make it a two-step process: So only people that Like you or have checked in, can enter. The reality is that loads of small businesses are doing this and feigning ignorance as: what’s the worst that Facebook will do? Also, as with any competition/prize draw it’s subject to the laws of your land.
- If you have a restaurant, and want to be the place-to-be-seen-to-be-at for ladies that lunch, attach a flyer to your menu with a “check in on Facebook with a pic, to win a meal for 4”
- You could run a ” share this to win a nights stay for two” promotion. This can get fantastic results, see below this place got 700 shares for their competition.
- If you had a nail bar in your hotel, the act of female beautification is so social/one-up/sharing, you absolutely should do a check-in and share your completed nails for a free eyebrow threading promotion, or similar.
- If you have an arrangement with a forest pony trekking company and set up an excursion for a weekend bread couple, you’ve shown both amazing customer service, and gave them an experience – experiences are so powerful. You absolutely can capitalise on this and ask them to engage/like and post a pic to your page
I also love Purple’s Wi-Fi-in-a-box that has a Like Gate that people have to pass to gain access to your Wi-Fi. (Also helps covers your legal responsibilities around running a wireless hotspot). Costs £100 one off then a monthly fee.
9. Encourage other staff
You can make other staff admin (on your page: edit page / admin roles), and then encourage staff to post as them, rather than as your hotel, this shows the people behind the page. Note: they have to Like you to be able to add them.
OK! Now, so here are some more ideas for what you can do to make a stronger presence and increase your outreach:
Integrate online booking
If you have an online booking system, this is usually super dooper simple to integrate as they will have done the hard work, and you can drop a widget into your page by following their instructions (e.g. FreetoBook’s is here).
And you can also get a widget from your Trip Advisor Management Console wihch will show your reviews in the page.
However don’t expect too many booking from this source, as…
…The Timeline is where its at
With the last major upgrade to Facebook they elevated the importance of the Timeline (your news etc), rather than your other sub pages (or apps) on your page. This is significant. And just reiterates why a content and reach out strategy is really the way to do it.
Post to your page often, with images.
Pimp your local business network
Engage with other local businesses ask them to post a promotion, and you post to their page reciprocally. These could be attraction or activity places, or restaurants and shops. Consider offering them joint discounts with you.
This cunning plan works best if you have spoken, or emailed the other page owner prior to posting to their page. As this way you have a real relationship. Again, if you post an image (one that has cross over appeal to their customers too) it will have better results. And make sure they know how to “share” your post to elevate it to their timeline.
Use the events tool within the Facebook page to list your themed nights, music evdnts, and send out invites to people that “like” your place. you can back this up with a photo of your flyer posted to your Timeline.
Worth a check: Some things
Here are some things that may be holding you back:
- Do you have multiple listings? Start typing your business name if you have more that 1 page, you can request them to be merged https://www.facebook.com/help/249601088403018
- And majorly, are you a person not a page? If you have “friends” not “Likes” then you need to change. to a page! Read more: https://www.facebook.com/help/175644189234902/
Next level stuff
Doing some of this stuff already? Time for Advanced Hotel marketing on Facebook.
How Facebook Offers work – watch this video
Facebook has two kinds of advertising that you might need to be aware of: offers and ads. Being a bit broad here; offers are the right way to advertise for a hotel. Be cautious, you can rinse money fast on Facebook! Of course you can set a budget, and monitor results. Watch this video:
Facebook advertising is maybe a big enough topic for a post another day.