February is a great time to plan for the year ahead
Here are our top tips for social media in 2016:
- Facebook is now officially pay to play. A lot of hotels we meet have accumulated tens of thousands of fans on their page, yet see almost no engagement. The only way to grow your reach and engagement is to support it with paid media. That's the bad news. The good news is that Facebook is still one of the most cost-effective ways to reach a targeted audience and that it doesn't require a huge budget to start seeing results.
We are working with clients who have tripled their reach and engagement with modest investments. The key to success is to be consistent. Facebook will always give the advantage to brands that are posting and promoting their posts frequently.
- Instagram: this is the year to start taking the medium seriously. Instagram has overtaken Twitter With 400M accounts this year while keeping really engagement rates, between 3 and 6% compared to 1% on Facebook. Instagram doesn't limit the reach (yet!) of your pictures as opposed to Facebook. Although we predict this will come in the next 18 months, now is really the time to get your hands dirty.
- Snapchat: 2015 was Snapchat's year. Phenomenal growth, Snapchat users watch 7 billion videos per day to Facebook 8 billion. Here's a great article from our friends at We Are Social. about it. However, we think the jury is still out as to whether Snapchat is a good platform for the hospitality industry, at least for now. The audience is still very young (50% under 24 years old), the platform still messy. And an advertising platform that still in its infancy. We recommend waiting a few months to see how their advertising offer develops.
- The slow death of Twitter: users have declined for the first time in Q4. Engagement rates have dropped dramatically last year. If Twitter can still play a role in a social media strategy, we recommend our clients to spend the majority of their resources behind Facebook and Instagram.
- Video will keep playing a bigger role in social media. From micro videos, Instagram just released a new app, Boomerang, that records micro videos (less than a second) to create fun loops to 360 videos, the dominance for social media visibility will be won with videos. Vertical videos might become the most common format as most of the audiences now access social media via their mobile phone.
- Social media customer service becomes the norm: a growing part of your audience will go straight to your social channels to ask you questions, praise or complain. It's more and more vital to monitor your channels in order to respond to your guests and customers as quickly as possible. Whatsapp now boasts 1 billion users and could be used as a great customer service tool between you and your customers. Increasing their loyalty and minimizing the risks of public complaints.
- The rise of the 'live broadcasting': Facebook live, Periscope, Snapchat. There have never been so many different ways to broadcast live to a large audience. Creating great events, inviting influencers and broadcasting it live is a great way to stay top of mind and show how vibrant your place is.
- Influencers: I wrote this article for Boutique Hoteliers about tempting travel bloggers last year, and having an influencers' strategy in 2016 is becoming even more important. From bars, restaurants and luxury hotels, identifying the best bloggers and influencers and creating strong working relationship will help fast-track your growth.
- Email marketing is not going anywhere. It is still one of the best communication tool available and give great results for promotion and sales. Whereas no one likes 'sales-y' posts on Facebook and Instagram, people don't seem to mind an email with a good offer as long as they are relevant and provide value.
Keep it simple. Time and resources are limited, concentrate them where you have the best chances of good return.
1/ Create great content (choose quality over quantity) that's original, fresh, creative and dare we say, fun. Creativity often trumps budget.
2/ Work harder on the promotion of that content. We recommend a budget creative to media of 1/3. There is little point in creating great content if it's not seen. Prioritise growth on FB and Instagram and leave a small budget to experiment on other platforms.
3/ Make sure your website is up to date with great imagery and videos. Integrate social media feeds in your website to show that your place is alive and kicking. And start working hard on capturing and nurturing your email database.