For Part 1 of the article, click here.
Social media isn’t meant to be used as a single strategy to gain more bookings. When it comes to online marketing for your hotel, all of your efforts should be seen as a single ‘product’ that you are using to drive traffic and direct bookings. This includes SEO, Content Marketing, PPC Campaigns, Video Marketing, and a fully Optimized Website among other strategies. Hoteliers need to understand that using social media in conjunction with all of your other online strategies is what makes it so powerful.
Since social media oftentimes works as an assist and is viewed toward the beginning of the purchasing process, you might not always realize the impact that it can have. Be sure to dig deeper into Google Analytics to see how social media is playing an assisted role in your online conversions.
Search- Ranking Higher
Many hoteliers are aware that SEO has a lot to do with different keywords and tags you are entering directly on your website, but there are also external factors outside of your website that also play a role in how you are ranking. This is called off-page optimization, and part of what contributes to this is social signals. You gain high social signals based on how well other users receive your posts on your social media channels. In other words, is your content being shared, liked, or reposted?
Every year, SearchMetrics does a study on the top-performing websites in the United States. What we learn from this study are the factors that correlate with high-ranking sites. In other words, what are all these top-ranking sites doing that is most likely assisting them in achieving a higher ranking? There is a positive correlation between sites that are ranking on Google, and certain social signals that are received from Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
“The correlations of social signals with rankings have remained practically unchanged at a high level. The following still applies: Top ranking URLs have more social signals – this factor increases exponentially in the top places.” -SearchMetrics
Reviews and Rate Parity
Even if social media was driving 1 million people to your website per day, you aren’t going to get the conversions you are looking for if two things are not up to par: Reviews and Rate Parity. Let’s start with reviews. Reviews have two parts to them: first, you need to make sure you are providing great customer service on-site at the hotel, and second, you need to have someone who is actively monitoring and responding to reviews. If you have terrible reviews and no management responses that show that the hotel cares, how can you expect customers to choose you over the hotel across the street?
Rate parity is also a big issue that many hotel’s don’t consider. If your hotel wants guests to book direct instead of on an OTA site like Expedia, you need to match their price at ALL TIMES. If your hotel is selling a room for $100 per night and that same room can be found at Expedia for $90, the guest is going to book with Expedia. Plain and simple. Guests visit a number of sites before making their decision, so don’t make it easy for them to choose an OTA over booking direct over something as minimal as price. If you notice that your online marketing efforts aren’t producing the results you expected, these two areas are a good place to start analyzing before reviewing your overall online marketing strategy.
You may have come across articles in the past and may continue to come across articles that will question how useful social media actually is for hotels. The questions you need to ask are how exactly are they using social media? Are they using it in conjunction with a strong SEO strategy? Do they have an fully optimized and responsive website? Are they measuring efforts using proper tools? Do they have a full understanding of the customer’s journey to booking a room? And finally, do they have pretty good reviews while also matching the room prices against OTAs? Any hotelier who answers yes to all of these questions will have a proper understanding regarding the impact of social media, and to be honest, is most likely already taking advantage of social media as part of their online efforts.