Social platforms are constantly evolving to compete for users’ attention. Facebook is constantly tweaking its features and offerings; Instagram has also been feverishly updating its app in the last year. As hotel marketers, it is important to stay in touch with these updates as many of them have opened up new ways for brands to advertise and connect with their customers. In fact, having an inactive presence can be more detrimental to your brand than not having one at all.
2017 is no stranger to this trend and we have already seen several announcements from different platforms. Below is a quick and useful outline of what hoteliers must do to stay active and relevant across key social media channels.
Facebook: Going dynamic and live
Brands have long benefitted from Facebook ads in reaching a wide yet targeted customer base. With that huge success in mind, Facebook rolled out an even more targeted way for brands to reach potential customers with a new dynamic ads feature specifically targeting hotels and travel brands.
With dynamic ads, Facebook is making it even easier to find the right customer at the right time, especially one who is likely to be interested in your offer. According to Facebook, “Whether someone has browsed hotels but didn’t book, or purchased a flight but not a hotel, Dynamic adverts for travel let you target that person with relevant adverts based on the specific dates, destination and other details of the trip.”
Another exciting update from Facebook that is relevant and beneficial to hotels is the Live Audio feature, a complement to the Live video streaming they introduced last April. There are many creative ways to use this live broadcasting feature. If your hotel has a lively lobby or lounge area where local bands occasionally take stage, for example, your social media team can now live-stream your hotel’s mini concerts on Facebook to fans and followers.
Also important for hoteliers to keep an eye on: the Recommendations feature that now makes it easier for friends to recommend places to stay or visit when traveling. All of these add up to various ways that Facebook is experimenting in the travel space.
Instagram: Making posts “shoppable”
Possibly one of the most frequently evolving social media channels is Instagram. Within the last year, they have already made major cosmetic changes to their look and substantial updates to their features.
Not only did Instagram redesign the logo and look of the app, they also moved all non-image content such as descriptions, tags and CTAs (Call To Action buttons) to the left-hand side of the posts, which was strategically done to “streamline the design and make it more noticeable.”
A more critical update for hoteliers is business insights to stories and story ads. Soon, hoteliers with business accounts on Instagram will be able to see critical data on reach, impressions and replies to each story. With such detailed insights on your hotel’s story posts, you will be able to better understand what your followers like to see on stories and how you can use this feature to increase engagement and expand your reach on Instagram.
Last but not least, one of the most revolutionary updates Instagram has ever made is the shoppable posts, which is still in testing. With this feature, businesses are allowed to tag up to five products on their posts to make them instantly purchasable. Tags popping up next to the products will show item’s name and price information to speed up the purchasing decision.
While this huge change is still in testing, it is hard to imagine that Instagram would kill it. It is only a matter of time before shoppable posts become the new widely-spread way of shopping and once that happens, who is to say that users won’t be able to book hotel stays through Instagram in near future? We’ve been skeptical before about the potential for social media booking, but the new features offered up by Facebook and Instagram may open up a gate for a new type of distribution.
Twitter: Exploring moments
We suggested in the past that Twitter should be used as a listening tool rather than broadcasting, where hotels could publicly make a lasting impression on individual users with above average response times and proactive strategies.
With that being said, it is well worth the time for a hotel’s social media team to check out all the bells and whistles of Twitter’s Moments tool, which was recently renamed to Explore. Moments allowed users to create a collection of tweets about certain events.
For instance, if there is a special event in your city, you could tweet about tips and tricks for this event, share photos and videos or even offer special value-adds around it and collect all your related material under Moments.
Now with the new Explore tab, users will be able to find content related to Moments, do a search, see trending hashtags and featured live videos all in the same place. None of these services are brand new but they are now more streamlined and easier to find.
When you hear Snapchat, you must forget all rules that apply to other social media channels. Why? Because nothing is permanent on Snapchat. Think fast and to the point! Also remember, it is one of the few platforms where you still don’t see your otherwise well-engaged and active baby boomers and Gen X members.
The latest major player in the social media world still strictly attracts young people mostly born after late ‘80s. Some of them are already your hotel’s customers and almost all of them are your hotel’s future customers. So it is important to have an active presence on Snapchat and stay up-to-date.
With the start of 2017, Snapchat joined other social media platforms announcing huge updates and changed their look in a major way. The new search bar, for instance, is hard to miss because it is accessible on every screen, making the app much easier to navigate for the average user.
Besides being more user-friendly, the update will allow users to find specific content simply by entering a publication (hotel brand in our case) name in the search bar. For instance, if your hotel has been active on Snapchat, a potential user who searched for your hotel specifically will not only find your profile but also your most recent, active story. This could potentially force brands into being more active if they’re not posting regularly on Snapchat.
Also noteworthy is the launch of Spectacles, the hip new sunglasses/video recorder from Snapchat (now simply called Snap) that may make augmented reality marketing a must-have for hotels. All these new tools come together to create a unique storytelling platform that travel brands have endless potential to explore.
Bottomline: More social than ever
2017 seems to be the year of major updates across all channels. With improved search tools and insights offered by almost all social media channels, it is easier than ever to communicate your unique brand message to a very specific group of potential customers and turn them into brand loyalists using what hotels know best: excellent customer service.
Be specific about which channels you want to be present on, stay up-to-date on your best performing channels, and keep your brand identity unified across all channels—use the same visual language as your hotel website.
Lastly, invest in your brand’s future by remaining relevant to today’s young consumers. 2017 could be your year to conquer Snapchat and gain a whole new cohort of customers.