Congratulations! You’ve taken the big leap and jumped into the unknown and ever-changing (sometimes overwhelming and scary) realm of social media. You have read and understood the importance of social media, you’ve created captivating and useful content, and now your social media outlets sit anxiously waiting those fans and followers like a new hotel awaiting its first guests. However, what happens when you’ve spent all this time, energy and money in learning about social media, creating and implementing a strategy, and are finally ready to see your efforts through to fruition with no fans or followers to tweet or post? Part of your social media strategy should include creative ways to get your ONline channels in people’s OFFline views.
How to Promote your Social Media Efforts Offline: Let Guests know you are Online
When asking guests how they heard about a hotel, the majority of those surveyed replied from a friend or family. Social media is the perfect tool to strengthen this response and increase word of mouth communication. Here are six ideas to help promote your online efforts to the offline community.
1. Create a QR code
As Blue Magnet Interactive has demonstrated in our posts, a creative QR code can have various capabilities for a hotel. One of these capabilities is to bring offline activity online – specifically to your social media sites. Most people have seen these and aren’t quite familiar with how to use them, but they are slowly gaining understanding and popularity. Create a QR Code (Quick Response Code) to connect to the hotel’s Facebook and Twitter pages and then prompt the guest to become a fan or follow the page. Build a better fan base on social networks and create current dialogue on the site with guests. This QR code can be used in conjunction with the other popular social media icons which we will talk about in a second.
2. Social Media Decals
When your guests first arrive on property, they’ll pass through the entrance to your hotel. A subtle way to introduce your social media presence is to purchase social media decals to adhere near your hotel entrance. This will notify guests as soon as they enter your property that you are present on social media. An added bonus of these decals is that if you are located in an urban area, passersby will also notice these subtle decals and be able to follow your social media channels. Social media decals are available to purchase online and can include your social media username, web address, or QR code to get people to your online site fast. Popular social media decals are utilized for Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.
3. Electronic Picture Frames at the Front Desk
One of the first things that guests do upon arrival to a hotel is check-in. Some hotel brands feature electronic picture frames at each guest service agent station at check-in. Here hotels feature pictures of guest rooms, opportunities to up-sell executive levels or suites, photos of the pool or fitness center and other amenities/special offers. This is a perfect opportunity to create a slide showcasing the hotel’s Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, or YouTube account names. Each social media channel could be displayed as a separate slide or combined into one single slide. If the guest sees the slide and mentions it to the GSA, this could be a perfect segue into further explanation of what the hotel’s social media channels can offer the guest– and the guest will be more likely to engage with your social media channels during their stay.
Another idea promotion idea involving the front desk includes having a guest check-in on Foursquare and showing that check-in to the GSA, which could result in a exclusive amenity or coupon for that guest to use during their stay.
4. Electronic Key Cards or Key Packets
If guests miss the electronic picture frame or your property does not have those, you can still capture the guest’s attention upon check-in by printing the social media icons or QR code on the guest’s room key packet or on the keycard itself. Since guests will have their room key on them at all times, this will help remind the guest to go onto your social media outlets when they have a moment. You can also use the key cards or key packets to promote outlet specials or other property amenities.
5. Printed Material/Signage in Guest Rooms
Once a guest arrives at their guest room, most will look around the room to inspect it to make sure it is up to their standards, figure out the amenities and get comfortable. Printed material placed in the guest room is the perfect place to add the social media icons that won’t intrude on a guest's stay. Information about the hotel history, hotel amenities, and local area attractions is usually located in a binder in each guest room. Make sure there is printed material either in the information binder or on the desk/dresser area that has the QR code you created and the social media account addresses listed so guests can easily access those from their guest rooms.
These subtle hints will remind guests that they can interact with the hotel through various outlets. Also, if the guest has a problem and posts about it on social media during their stay, the hotel has a better opportunity to catch it and enact service recovery while the guest is still on property.
6. Electronic Reader Boards
Similar to the concept presented for the electronic picture frames at the front desk – electronic reader boards are a great use of digital advertising space. Create a slide or a banner ad that can be displayed on the electronic reader boards on property. Conferences, groups-in-house, or transient guests will look at these reader boards for information regarding maps, meeting agendas, and see the advertisements for social media.
Tips to Remember to Include in your Online Marketing Strategy:
Social Media Icons Displayed Prominently on your Website
Depending on your brand guidelines and brand web pages, this option might not apply to all hotels. However, this is a very vital link that will help you drive the most traffic to your social media sites. Your social media icons/links should be prominently displayed on your hotel website. You could even include just the “Like” button from Facebook or the “Follow” button from Twitter if you wanted to ensure that your potential guests stayed on your website and visited your social media sites at a different time.
Social Media Links in your E-mail Signature
All hotel team members that have an email address should have a uniform email signature. On this signature, be sure to include your standard contact information, a link to your hotel website, a small photo banner of your hotel and links to all of your social media outlets. These links can be in the format of written out links such as facebook.com/yourhotelusername or the recognizable social media icons. This will provide a direct link for your email contacts to find you on social media.
As fellow Blue Magnet team member Katharyn said best: "Social media is word of mouth marketing at its best!" Word-of-mouth marketing can drive significantly higher traffic and value to your business. Make sure you implement the proper offline marketing strategy to enhance and power your online marketing strategy. The suggestions I provided will only help strengthen your connection with customers by letting them know you have a presence on social media channels with which they can engage and benefit.