social media week chicago 2014

Times are changing - the pound sign is now a hashtag, tweets aren't just for birds, and brands want things shared more than a kindergarten teacher. This past week, the Blue Magnet Interactive team set off to explore several educational seminars hosted by Chicago's Social Media Week to stay on the forefront of the everchanging online social landscape. Our online marketing team is eager to share how their key takeaways from these sessions can translate into successful hotel social media marketing campaigns.

Read highlights from our Social Media Week adventures:

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Having a successful social media campaign can boost your hotel's awareness, increase visits to your site, and ultimately drive engaged followers to book a room. However, getting your hotel's social media activity off the ground can be challenging and not getting your desired reach and engagement can be frustrating. So, how can you give your hotel's social media presence an added boost to increase reach without spending ad money? You may not realize this, but your hotel already has social media ambassadors on hand to help your hotel increase social engagement. You see them every day. They are already putting their heart and soul into your hotel's offline marketing efforts by providing great service on property. Your social media ambassadors are your team. Getting team members involved in social media may sound intimidating or time-consuming at first; however, your hard-working team's engagement and support can be a crucial factor in obtaining social media success.

Why are your team members the secret ingredient to improving your hotel's social media performance?

For starters, they most likely are already active on social media sites. Team members that enjoy coming to work and truly love their brand are prone to spreading that adoration on Facebook, Twitter, and other popular networks. Additionally, if someone on your team shares your hotel's Facebook post, their entire network will be exposed to that post. If someone in their network then shares the Facebook post again, a new pool of Facebook users can now see the post. When your team engages with your brand, they present the opportunity to organically increase your hotel's reach into a much wider audience.

How do you get your team involved in your hotel's social media campaign?

There are plenty of ways to make it fun and easy for them. Your management team should cultivate an encouraging environment and set guidelines on what type of information is beneficial to share.

In fact, your team members that are active on social media are likely already checking into the hotel on Facebook, posting about upcoming events, and sharing their day to day experiences. Therefore, it is imperative that you provide your team with proper social media training and tools to facilitate involvement. Train your hotel team on best practices, common terminology, and how they can best assist in establishing your online community.

In this Slideshare, Blue Magnet Interactive highlights why team involvement is important for your hotel, how your property can foster their participation, and what your team can be doing to help your hotel reach its social media goals.


If your want to improve your hotel's social media strategy, please contact us to learn about our social media marketing services. Tweet your questions or comments to @Blue_Magnet.

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If we can learn anything from Facebook, it is that change is inevitable. While it can be overwhelming to log in and notice that nothing looks the way it did five minutes ago, often times these changes are for the best! Facebook's latest round of updates should be influential in your admin's content strategy, will improve your organization within the Ads Manager, and can result in more efficient and cost-effective campaigns. Check out what is new on Facebook in the last couple of months and why this matters to your hotel!

Facebook Update #1: Facebook's Pages to Watch provides more information

What's new: Facebook has finally made the Pages to Watch Section on the admin panel more robust. Previously, this section only showed a high-level glimpse of your page's growth compared to up to five other pages of your choosing. Now located within Facebook Insights, you can compare more metrics to gauge the performance of your hotel’s page and your posts.

FB Changes - Pages to Watch

Pages to Watch can be found under See Insights, at the bottom of the Overview section.

 

Why your hotel should care: You can measure the frequency and engagement of your hotel’s Facebook posts against your competitors'. If your competitors are continually gaining more page likes than your page and have higher engagement (more shares, likes, and comments), is it because they are posting more times each week? Keep this in mind as you create your upcoming content calendar so you can continue to improve your hotel’s Facebook engagement as well. If one of your competitors is consistently outperforming the other hotels in your comp set, take a look at their Facebook timeline to get a feel for what type of content they are sharing and what their strategy is. Is the hotel using better images in their posts? Is their content more relevant to their target audience? Are they constantly running promotions or giveaways? Make note of what works well for other hotels and adjust your hotel's posting strategy accordingly!

Facebook Update #2: Facebook Campaigns changes the ad structure

What's new: Previously, Facebook’s campaign structure within the Ads Manager consisted of two levels: campaigns and ads. The new campaign structure consists of three levels: campaigns, ad sets, and ads. Each ad set has its own budget and schedule, and target audience.

FB Changes - Ads Before  After

Why your hotel should care: The new campaign structure is especially helpful for promoting different events, targeting different groups of people based on interests, tailoring ad copy to each audience, and allocating your budget accordingly.

For example, imagine you are a Chicago hotel and your Facebook Ad budget for April is $50. Your hotel’s overarching advertising objective for the month is to build awareness about your property and gain quality Facebook fans that are likely to travel to Chicago within the next year. You decide to target two upcoming Chicago events that will likely capture your target audience: Chicago Half Marathon and Chicago Bears home games (since the Bears schedule is set to be released mid-April, fans of the Bears' opponents are likely to start planning which games they are attending at Soldier Field). Under Facebook’s new campaign structure, your hotel’s April campaign would consist of two ad sets: (1) Chicago Half Marathon and (2) NFL fans. Each ad set would consist of its own target audience and budget. The Chicago Half Marathon Ad Set targets Facebook users who live in the United States, are interested in running, and like pages similar to "Nike". Your hotel is dedicating $30 of your total Facebook ad budget to Half Marathon ad set. The NFL fans ad set targets people who like the NFL, ESPN, are fans of teams that the Chicago Bears are playing at home this season, and live in Green Bay, WI and Minneapolis, MN. Your hotel is dedicating $20 of total ad spend to the NFL ad set. The new Facebook campaign structure then allows you to create multiple ads within the ad set so your hotel can target by users’ interests, relationship status, location, etc. You can tailor each ad with unique copy to ensure it resonates with the intended audience and control the amount of money you want to spend on each ad.

Overall, this means a more organized process for hotel's that are running multiple ads and the ability to target niche communities more effectively.

Facebook Update #3: Facebook Ads provides more effective targeting options

What's new: Facebook has simplified their ad targeting options based on four main categories: location, demographics, interests, and behavior. Location targeting is more accommodating; Advertisers can now create a campaign including or excluding any combination of zip codes, counties, cities, or states. You will also notice that Facebook has said goodbye to hashtag and keyword targeting and is now concentrating on targeting the overall interests users have vocalized. This means you can choose to target one subject such as "hockey" and Facebook will show your ad to users who have liked or expressed interest in topics related to hockey.

In even more exciting news, Facebook's Partner Categories is now being integrated into the Ads Create Tool under Audience > Behaviors. Partner Categories allows marketers to target people based on their activity outside of Facebook, such as recent purchase behavior, the types of products or services they buy (home goods, cars, etc.), and the device they use to purchase. Before this Facebook ad update, advertisers had to go into Facebook's Power Editor to utilize this awesome feature, now it is integrated into ads to create a more efficient targeting process. You can read more specifics, and see what Facebook has to say about these updates via Facebook for Business News.

FB Changes - Behaviors

Partner Categories can be found in Behaviors within the Audience section.

 

Why your hotel should care: Some of the highlights to the Facebook ad updates include more values for relationship statuses (i.e. civil unions) and enhanced targeting capabilities, so you can now narrow down your audience to be as specific as "people engaged within the last 3 months." Demographics now include information such as workplace and job title - watch out LinkedIn...

This new, streamlined Facebook ad targeting will ultimately result in more efficient, cost-effective campaigns and, in turn, your hotel can get directly in front of the types of people that are likely to book rooms.

Facebook Update #4: Facebook redesigns page layout

What's new: Your hotel’s Facebook page will soon have a similar layout to that of your personal Facebook profile. Your hotel’s timeline (which consists of the page's posts) will appear on the right column of your hotel’s page and the left column will include all of your hotel’s business information (map, hours, website, likes, page tabs, etc.). Currently, all of the business information is at the very top of your page's timeline.

In true Facebook fashion, certain page administrators have been invited to join the waitlist for the new layout, but Facebook has not released an official timeline stating when this change will roll out to everyone.

Why your hotel should care: With this new page layout, Facebook is (seemingly) giving less prominence to page tabs. Page tabs will still be included on the business page, but tabs will no longer have thumbnail images, so they won’t stand out as much on the new layout. At Blue Magnet, we typically optimize hotels’ Facebook page tabs with calls-to-actions, like a Book Now app, Plan a Meeting app,  TripAdvisor review app, or custom-built iFrame for giveaways and promotions. So, if your hotel is hosting a social media giveaway or has a booking widget app integrated on its Facebook page, it will be a good idea to highlight this information within your hotel’s Facebook posts as well to increase its visibility.

FB Changes - Old Page

Example of old Facebook page layout. Note the prominent page tabs and the size of the property's rating.

 

 

 

FB Changes - New Page

Example of new Facebook page layout. The page tabs no longer have images supporting them at the top of the page (there will be images for these page tabs further down your timeline in the left-hand column). In the new layout, the star rating is larger and more prominent.

Check out Facebook’s example of the new page layout here.

Facebook Update #5: Facebook's Newsfeed clean up

What's new: Facebook is making an effort to get rid of posts and stories in the newsfeed that come across as spammy to users. Facebook has broken down the types of posts and content that will be penalized as a part of this process:

  1. Like Baiting: A post that asks people to do any given action, such as liking or sharing in effort to increase the post's reach (i.e. "What is your favorite city to visit? 'Like' for Chicago, 'Share' for Los Angeles, or 'Comment' for New York!).
  2. Frequently Circulated Content: Content, photos, or videos that are shared again and again and again. This doesn't mean you should stop sharing posts from other page's and interesting content, but this is a good reminder to not just share a popular story for the sake of sharing it because "everyone else is doing it”. Make sure the content you share has relevancy to your brand and its mission.
  3. Spammy Links: Stories in the News feed that don't accurately describe where they are linking out to are considered spammy links. Don't try to trick someone into visiting your hotel’s website, an ad, or a special offer. When sharing a link on your hotel’s Facebook page, make it clear where users are going when they click.

Why your hotel should care: If your hotel has a good Facebook content strategy in place, you won't be affected by these clean up initiatives. However, it is always important to keep best practices in mind when creating your Facebook content calendars and brainstorming social media promotions. Smaller scale giveaways asking fans to "like" or "share" a picture where one randomly selected person will win a one-night stay at your hotel will no longer be an efficient way to boost page engagement. Also, be sure to keep your hotel’s content refreshing. If you have a special offer that you are trying to promote, don't keep sharing the same image over and over again alongside the offer details. Instead, try using different visuals and mix up the copy every time you post about the offer.

Additionally, don't feel obligated to link out to your hotel website in each and every status update. Only post links that are relevant to the content your hotel is publishing. When you are posting a link, make the link destination clear so users know where they are going to end up when they click on it. After all, this will ensure you are receiving quality traffic to your hotel’s website, which will result in a higher conversion rate. If you think you are being sly by getting Facebook fans to unknowingly click a link to your website, you will likely see a high bounce rate, meaning the user didn’t want to end up there.

We’d love to hear your opinion! What do you think of Facebook's page redesign? Are you finding it easier to organize your hotel's Campaigns with the new layout in Ads Manager? Tweet us @blue_magnet with your comments or questions!

 

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*Update (Feb 21, 2014 at 10:00am): You can now go back into your hotel's Facebook page subcategories and add 'Hotel' without it changing to 'Hotel Mooshaus.'

Did you wake up this morning, log on to Facebook, and realize that your hotel decided to change its name to Hotel Mooshaus? Well you're not alone! All hotel Facebook pages have been edited to include a bizarre update on their hotel’s information - the subcategory 'Hotel' has mysteriously changed to 'Hotel Mooshaus'.

About Section with Hotel Mooshaus subcategory

What exactly is Hotel Mooshaus?

We're still trying to figure that out. As of now, if you click on the Hotel Mooshaus subcategory it will take you to a mysterious Topic page. At time of writing, 13,019 people like Hotel Mooshaus on Facebook:

Facebook Mooshaus page

Don't have moose at your hotel? How can you fix your hotel’s Facebook page?

Right now, Blue Magnet has a support ticket open with Facebook to fix this issue on our clients’ Facebook pages. Plus, with Mooshaus trending on Twitter, it's bound to get picked up by Facebook's support staff pretty quickly.

mooshaus-trend-twitter

In the meantime, you can temporarily fix your hotel’s page on your own by removing the 'Hotel Mooshaus' subcategory from the Facebook page categories until their support staff fixes the issue.

  1. Go into your About section
  2. Click to Edit your Page Info
  3. Under 'Subcategories' hit 'Edit' and hit the 'X' on Hotel Mooshaus:

 remove-mooshaus

You don't have to edit your main category - it should still be listed as 'Local Business: Hotel':

Keep as Local Business: Hotel

Will this happen again?

It's possible. Facebook pages within the 'hotel' subcategory have been hacked before, which is why it's always a great idea to check your Facebook page’s 'About' section from time to time. The most recent Facebook hack that affected hotels specifically was a mysterious 'APPhotel.com' subcategory, which has since been removed.

Apphotel example

When can you go back and add 'Hotel' as a subcategory again?

I find this amoosingWe'll keep you updated on our conversations with Facebook and let you know when the issue has been corrected. But, for now, we definitely recommend removing 'Hotel Mooshaus' as a subcategory to avoid any confusion!

 

 

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Facebook Tenth Birthday

At Blue Magnet Interactive, we love Facebook. Without the social giant and its enormous marketing potential, we might be out of a job! Okay, maybe not - but we felt it was only appropriate to commemorate Facebook on its 10th birthday with a classic Top 10 list.

Our talented Account Manager’s compiled their top 10 tips for hotels to effectively utilize Facebook’s prowess and stand out from their competitors!

1. Respond to all wall posts and comments, whether they are positive or negative. Hoteliers should have a similar response system in place on Facebook as they do on TripAdvisor. When a fan leaves positive feedback on your Facebook wall, “like” the post or leave a sincere comment on behalf of the hotel to acknowledge that it was received. When a fan leaves a nasty comment, respond publicly so that your other fans know that the hotel takes these issues seriously and try to take the conversation offline as seamlessly as possible.

~ Andrea Mann, Senior Brand Strategist

2. Don’t post just to post. Content that you share with your followers should be relevant to your property. Think about the pages you “like” on Facebook, why you like them, and the content you're likely to share and engage with on those pages. Your fans are invested in your page to hear about your special offers and promotions, learn about the area, and hear about other applicable hotel news and events. Just because a certain topic or hashtag is trending doesn’t mean that yoru hotel needs to comment on the subject. If you can’t twist “Justin Bieber’s mug shot” to relate to your brand, it’s pointless chatter (and we’re not sure you’d want to anyways).

~ Stephanie Hilger, Account Manager

FB-Birthday Humanize

3. Humanize your brand. Customer service is often one of the strongest assets of a property, and you can’t give great customer service without an incredible staff. Small features that show your customers how much the hotel management values its staff will go a long way. “Staff picks” for favorite area restaurants or bars, “happy anniversary” posts for team members that have loyally been employed at your hotel for a long period of time, etc. They call this “social” media for a reason. Don’t ever hesitate to put a face to your brand! 

~ Michelle Laing, Account Manager

4. Do your guests know that you are on Facebook? Utilize on-property flyers and place them at the front desk, at your on-site restaurant, on tables in the breakfast area and create key-card packet inserts. Encourage guests to like and review your hotel on Facebook, especially since Facebook reviews are beginning to play an integral part of your Facebook page’s experience!

~ Kelsey Nupnau, Account Manager

5. Take advantage of the Facebook Insights. This useful tool is free for your hotel's business page, and it will help you discover things like the best time to post, the most popular content, and audience demographics. With this added information, you can craft better posts tailored to your specific audience and boost your page’s engagement.

~ Tim Dale, Account Manager

FB-Birthday ShortSweet

6.  Keep it short and sweet. Increasingly, people are accessing Facebook through their mobile devices.  While scrolling through their Newsfeeds waiting at the bus stop or in line at Starbucks, they may not want to take the time to read a wordy paragraph. Writing your hotel's Facebook posts with Twitter’s length (140 characters or less) in mind can help encourage fans to read your posts. 

~ Caroline Scanlon, Associate Account Manager

7. Use your camera! If there is something going on at the hotel - a staff fundraiser, a special event in the bar or just a beautiful day outside, TAKE A PICTURE! Your Facebook fans are following your page because they enjoyed their time at your hotel or are planning to visit your hotel. Give them a snapshot of what’s going on both on property and in the area. Photos that are unique to a hotel tend to outperform generic posts on Facebook pages. A generic post with clip art hearts that says “Happy Valentine’s Day” is not going to give your hotel personality like a photo of your front desk staff smiling with a box of chocolates in hand!

~ Abby Heft, Senior Account Manager

 

8. Stay local. Utilize local-area publications, community-focused websites, CVB’s and more to find the most relevant, local content for your followers. From free yoga classes to the top 10 places to enjoy fried chicken in your town, fans will appreciate these localized tidbits. Guests are often asking your front desk staff  ‘where do the locals go?’ - so take that question and run with it on Facebook! There are lots of great resources at your fingertips to help answer that question.

~ Amanda Diamond, Account Manager

FB-Birthday Fans

9. Treat your fans like the special fans they are! As you grow your network of fans on Facebook, instill loyalty by offering exclusive deals and insider information. Announce special events to fans first, provide a special coupon for fans to redeem on property, or promote a unique fan rate discount only available through your Facebook page. By giving fans exclusive information and deals, you build loyalty and actively engage users who continue to listen to what your hotel has to say. Plus, these Facebook strategies are also a great way for your hotel to bring in incremental revenue and sell rooms for last minute need-dates. 

~ Kim Armour, Director of Client Services

10. Just because Facebook is a great marketing tool, doesn't mean every post should be a commercial for your hotel. Yes, guests want to know when you have an awesome new special or that you just renovated all of your suites, but they don't want to see the same posts about how you have "the best amenities around" over and over. Your page will never see a lot of likes or engagement if you're consistently posting "salesy" content in the hopes of driving bookings. Doing so will most likely have the opposite effect and end up turning fans away.

~ Chris Dean, Account Manager

Cheers, Facebook! Here's to many more years of liking, commenting, and sharing!

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These days, it seems like just about everyone is on Facebook - curious parents, tech-savvy and not-so-tech-savvy grandparents, and kids who probably weren't even walking on their own two feet when Facebook was invented. I even know a couple of dogs and a cat with Facebook profiles, although I'm not convinced that they set up their profiles themselves. Facebook has now reached 1.19 billion monthly active users! Add in the 15 million+ brand pages and you can see why it's easy for your hotel's Facebook posts to get lost in the frenzy of likes, shares, and posts that are endlessly pouring into users' Newsfeeds. So, how do you get Facebook users to notice your hotel's Facebook posts and engage with them? There are a number of ways to make your hotel's Facebook posts stand out amidst the competition. Adding compelling visuals, shortening your posts, and targeting select times of day to publish your posts are some of the simplest ways to encourage your fans to engage with your hotel's page.

1. Use A Powerful Photo


With 1 in 6 people using Facebook exclusively on mobile, it's important to think about what content people will notice as they quickly scroll through their newsfeeds while waiting in line at Starbucks or on their morning commute to the office. Undoubtedly, pictures are more eye-catching than wordy posts. Images typically take up more space on the screen, and the brain also tends to process images more quickly than words. A picture tells a story in a glance and can usually be universally understood, while words require more time to read and process. Plus, understanding lengthy posts can be negatively impacted by language-barriers. As social media becomes more instantaneous with the advent of each new platform (from Twitter to Snapchat, to Vine) people are growing more impatient and less willing to take the time to read. So, it's probably not a surprise to learn that photo posts on Facebook receive 39% more engagement than plain text, videos, or links; however posting just any old picture isn't necessarily going to foster that much of an increase in engagement. A quality, engagement-provoking photo needs to have some sort of substance to it and preferably draw on a human emotion. Looking at Parade Magazine's "10 of the Most Liked Photos From 2012", each photo evokes some type of emotion from happiness to pride to nostalgia. The screenshot below provides guests with interesting information about the hotel's hometown and incorporates a visual of a tasty ice cream cone, which will appeal to nearly everyone.

                                                                        facebook-engagement

 

As a hotelier, you have the opportunity to evoke your fan's emotions with photos taken on property. A number of travel inspiring photo opportunities can be found on your hotel property. For example, a fabulous view from a room or a delicious looking dish from your hotel's restaurant. Photos of your hotel's staff appreciation party or a sales team member of the month can also spark high engagement on Facebook because they allow Facebook fans to see the human side of your hotel and forge an emotional connection. As Meghan Biro says in her Forbes article "5 Warnings for Leaders: Brand Humanization is Not a Social Media Fad", "These stories make your business interesting and compelling to consumers, employees, and investors...If you let people bring their humanity to your brand, they'll also bring your brand into their networks. That's a form of reach money can't buy." This screenshot below tells a beauitful story about the incredible team working at the lodge, which guests may not have been aware of otherwise.

 

                               facebook-staff

2. Keep It Short & Sweet


I've been told that you have six seconds to grab and hold someone's attention on the Internet. On social media, six seconds is probably a generous amount of time. Don't make Facebook users work to figure out what you're posting about - give them all the information they need in one packet of information. As people are scrolling through their Newsfeed, they're only going to stop for something that really interests them. A visual can convey so much without words, which is why using a photo is imperative, but oftentimes photos do need further explanation. Facebook allows page status updates to contain photos with nearly as many words as you like, but there is a positive correlation between shorter posts and high engagement, as demonstrated below.


The chart below, from Belle Beth Cooper's blog post on Buffer, shows the amount of likes and comments per post, depending on post length. it is clear that posts from 0-70 characters are receiving many more likes and a few more comments than every other post length. In a close second are the 70-140 character posts, but beyond that the number of likes a post receives drops off significantly. While the number of comments received may hold steady throughout most of the chart, the large posts (231+ characters) have about half as many.

 

                                    facebook-responsechart

One easy way to cut down on your character count without losing important content is to use a link shortener like goo.gl or bit.ly. These programs take long URLs and shorten them. They are also customizable, so your link can act as a descriptor of the page it will direct to.


For example, here is the link to a Colorado Springs pet-friendly hotel page:

 

 facebook-longurl

 

But when put into bit.ly and customized accordingly, the link can be shortened down to this:

 

 facebook-shorturl

 

The link is still informative, but it is now much shorter, saving you precious characters in your Facebook posts. As an added bonus, these link shortening tools will track how many people actually clicked your link as well as what day and time they clicked it.

 

                                                         facebook-bitly

 

While it is important to keep your hotel's posts short to maximize your engagement, it's also important to make sure that the posts have substance to them. A Facebook page that posts nothing but fluff can end up looking spammy and cause fans to unfollow the page. With your hotel's page, you have the opportunity to provide its Facebook fans with an insider's look at your local area by posting informative content or sharing upcoming events. As many of your hotel's fans are likely from out of town, they probably aren't aware that the restaurant down the street has the best pizza in town, that the annual Pumpkin Festival is happening this weekend, or that the local aquarium is free every Tuesday. Try to think of your hotel's Facebook page as a local guide for hotel guests - sharing valuable knowledge and expertise that will resonate with its fans.

3. Timing Is Everything


It's important to keep in mind that your hotel's fans are probably not using Facebook 24/7. Certain times of day will prompt more engagement than others. It's also important to note that a Facebook post's lifespan is pretty short- 50% of engagement happens in just an hour and a half. Check your hotel's Facebook Page Insights to get an idea of what times of day the majority of your fans are on Facebook. Catering your hotel's content to those times of day will help increase interactions including likes, comments, and shares. Insights can also give you an idea of what day of the week your posts receive the most interaction. This knowledge allows you to schedule your hotel's most important posts for days when its fans are most likely to see it and engage.

 

                                                        facebook-insights

The above screenshot was taken from Facebook Insights and shows what times of day a particular hotel's fans are using Facebook. Obviously, posting between 2 and 6 AM would not be a good choice for this hotel, but posting somewhere from 7 to 11 PM would be smart to ensure the post receives a high reach. There are two notable spikes around 7PM and 10PM that demonstrate the absolute best times to post for this particular hotel. Oftentimes, it takes several minutes for a post to filter its way into someone's Newsfeed, so it may prove beneficial to post slightly (15-20 minutes) before the peak times.

4. Pin It To The Top Of Your Timeline

Facebook's pinning feature is helpful for short-term specials or anything else you want to be sure your hotel's fans see. Instead of having the post get pushed down with every subsequent post, a pinned post remains consistently at the top of your hotel's timeline, giving the post a longer shelf-life. Fans will understand that the content is still relevant, even though it might be a few days old. Say you launch a new special offer on your hotel's standalone website, and you want to start driving traffic to it. You can create a post announcing the promotion and pin it to the top of your hotel's Facebook page. This way, even if someone visits the page days later, the first thing they will see is the post announcing the new special offer, which will bring it to their attention and maybe even encourage them to click for more information.

Pinning is simple -- click the downward pointing arrow in the top right-hand corner of the post and select "Pin to Top," the first option listed in the drop-down menu (see screenshot below). Pinning is especially helpful for special promotions running for a set length of time. Just be sure to remember to unpin the post when you no longer want it at the top, otherwise it will stay there for a full week.

                                                                                    facebook-pinning

How Will These 4 Facebook Tips Benefit Your Hotel?

While it may be a challenge to track your hotel's ROI from Facebook, it is still very important for your hotel's online visibility to have an active and engaging Facebook page. Facebook allows you to promote your hotel and your area to potential guests on a channel where they are already spending their time. Following these four techniques will help extend the reach and improve the engagement on your Facebook posts. With a powerful photo and small amounts of text, you increase the chances that a Facebook user will stop to read (and like, comment, or share) your hotel's post, further building their relationship with your hotel. Facebook posts with high levels of engagement also linger in users' Newsfeeds longer than unpopular posts, thanks to Facebook's story bumping. It is important to post relevant and interesting information because it leads to high engagement, which, in turn, ensures that your hotel is reaching as many of its fans as possible. Facebook is a great tool for hotels to use to maintain their relationships with guests, even when they are not visiting. That strengthened connection will help your hotel to remain top-of-mind, so when your fan does decide to take a trip down the road, they'll remember to stay at your hotel.

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A hashtag (#) is a symbol that is being used across social media channels to organize, search, as well as expand the reach of different content. On June 12, 2013, the hashtag invaded Facebook. The pressure to stay relevant and the desire to fit in forced Facebook to succumb to the ever-popular hashtag. Since it originated on Twitter, I am inclined to compare the success of hashtags on Twitter to that of Facebook. Although a valiant effort, Facebook has not had the same success seamlessly integrating hashtags into their content as Twitter has had - at least thus far.

#LikeABoss

Why should you incorporate hashtags into your social media content? On Twitter, users incoroprate hashtags to categorize their tweets, create searchable terms, and form a sense of community around a particular topic. Below are 5 enticing reasons to appreciate the use of hashtags on Twitter:

  1. Organizing Topics- As seen in this screenshot below of the Twitter search result for #WaltDisneyWorld, hashtags make it easy to search for specific keywords or organize conversations surrounding a relevant topic. Grouping these phrases or terms is highly beneficial for brands targeting specific markets because they are able to include relevant hashtags in posts to expand their reach into a specific target market. #WaltDisneyWorld Search
  2. Creating Searchable Content- Since hashtags create clickable words, users are able to easily search for conversations related to a specific keyword or topic, allowing people to engage in online conversations with friends or strangers alike across the world. For example, if a guest was looking to stay at The Emily Morgan Hotel, they could search #EmilyMorganHotel to find out what other guests at the hotel have been saying on Twitter before deciding to book a room.
  3. Fostering a Sense of Community- Due to the fact that conversations are able to flow effortlessly around the globe, a sense of community is formed based on specific hashtags that are created for different events, experiences, or contests. These shared hashtags can include anything from phrases and locations to brands and performers. The example below is a conversation on Twitter that is utilizing #DuPageChat. This hashtag was used to discuss town happenings in DuPage County, upcoming events in the area, and residents’ questions in an effort to bring the community together.            #DuPageChat Twitter Search
  4. Expanding Reach- One of the greatest advantages of social media is its global reach. Using the hashtag effectively can broaden your reach because you are able to converse with people across the world who are discussing similar topics in a matter of seconds! As a hotelier, utilizing hashtags can bring in new business too! By monitoring location based hashtags such as #disneyhotel, hotels are able to reach people who are not brand loyal but know the area in which they are looking to travel. This is the perfect opportunity for a hotel to reach out to someone looking for a #disneyhotel and offer a 140 character sales pitch as to why they should stay at this particular hotel for their Disney vacation.
  5. Providing Customer Service- The hashtag is a great way for hotels to connect with their customers or audience. By monitoring hashtags that include your brand name, hotels are able to provide speedy customer service and respond to any questions or comments guests might have. For instance, if a guest tweets to the hotel asking if he or she will be able to watch a certain TV station in the guest room, the hotel can respond quickly with the information, providing stellar guest services!

#WhatWentWrong?

Ideally, the benefits of using hashtags on Twitter should roll over to Facebook seamlessly, but thus far, I do not think the hashtag has had the same impact on Facebook as it does on Twitter. Although the components of what makes a hashtag so beneficial that I outlined above still play a pivotal role across social channels, Facebook has had a difficult time successfully integrating the hashtag into it's platform. Here are some reasons why I think the hashtag is destined to be doomed on Facebook:

  1. Different Demographics - Twitter and Facebook are not attracting the same audience, as seen below in the infograph from Buffer. Facebook holds 67% of all social media users and has a much larger age range, while Twitter has 16% and holds a steady age range. Although the majority of both social media sites’ users range from ages 18-29, Facebook has notably more users in the 50-64 and 65+ than Twitter. This makes an impact when using a hashtag because the older generation does not typically adapt to technology as quickly as 18-29 year olds do. Terminology like twit instead of tweet, or calling it The Facebook (haven’t they seen The Social Network?! JT nixed the “The”!), doesn't seem to bode well to the future of the hashtag on the social networking mecca.socialmediademographics
  2. Misuse Can Lead to a Spammy Experience - As noted in my first point, it is easy for Facebook users to misuse hashtags. The improper use of the hashtag could lead to excessive hashtags in a post, irrelevant hashtags, or a combination of both. Since Facebook already has complaints of too much spam, the hashtag has the potential to inflate that issue. This will not only get annoying fast, but will also make Facebook look like a spammy mess, and no Facebook user wants that. Take for example this post from Berjaya Hotels & Resorts where 19 hashtags were used!
     Berjaya Hotels Excessive Hashtags In Facebook Posts
  3. Not Mobile-Friendly - When Facebook rolled out the hashtag early June, a couple of important features were missing - hashtags were not clickable in the comment sections (the centerpiece of the Facebook conversation platform) and no hashtags were clickable or searchable on mobile devices. Although they recently rolled out clickable hashtags in the comment section, hashtags are still not clickable or searchable on mobile devices. One of the benefits of a hashtag is that it provides users with relevant, timely information, and with more than 140 million Americans using smart phones to access social media, not having the ability to click and search hashtags on a phone totally negates this benefit for a large percentage of Facebook’s users. Facebook has mentioned that they hope to implement clickable mobile hashtags soon, but as of now, the lack of mobile compatability is still a major drawback for Facebook.*
     W Hotels Facebook Hashtag Search
  4. Privacy Settings Getting in the Way - The final straw in this crumbling attempt to execute hashtags on Facebook is Facebook’s privacy settings. When used on Facebook, hashtags will conform to the privacy settings that a user has set on his or her Facebook account. This means if you compose a status update about an “#AwesomeHotel” and your privacy settings limit your conversations to be viewed by only your friends, then only your friends are going to see that post, regardless of your hashtag usage. This takes away another main attraction of the hashtag, its global presence and ability to foster a community. If only a user’s friends can see their post about an “#AwesomeHotel,” your hotel will never even know that the guest wrote about the #AwesomeHotel on Facebook. Facebook’s complex privacy settings block any chance for the hashtag to have the impact on Facebook that it has on other sites. Although Twitter has similar privacy settings, people are less likely to implement them because of the nature of the social network. Facebook users tend to set strict privacy settings intentionally so they can communicate with family, friends, and acquaintances. It also doesn't help Facebook's case that users have compalined pretty loudly in the past about the lack of privacy on the social networking site. On Twitter, 64% of young adults have public profiles, 24% private, and 12% are unaware which type of profile they have. Twitter’s default setting is a public profile.

#AWorkInProgress

Facebook put forth a gallant effort to stay trendy by implementing the use of the hashtag. Unfortunately, I think that Facebook’s efforts thus far have fallen short on this trending topic. With the great probability of misuse, the lack of presence on mobile devices, and the rigorous privacy settings getting in the way of tracking information freely, the odds are against Facebook. Hashtags just don’t translate as well to the nature of Facebook as they do to the Twitter-verse. Facebook is a network for people to connect with acquaintances and friends, while Twitter is more commonly used for sharing news or conversing online with faceless strangers. However, if Facebook is able to adapt their strategy and integrate the hashtag successfully, meaning it becomes mobile-friendly and the older generation begins to understand the benefit and use of a hashtag, then Facebook may have the potential to allow users to categorize, sort, and filter their posts much more efficiently. That said, it is my opinion that Facebook should stick to what they know works well for the over 1.1 billion users they currently have, and that is not hashtags. It seems other Facebook users may share my sentiments on the hashtag - one user even began a public backlash with the invention of this Facebook page named "This is not Twitter. Hashtag's don't work here".

facebook-hashtag-facebookpage

 

*Update - Facebook has finally added some basic functionality on the mobile platform. Hashtags are now clickable on mobile devices, but users are still not able to proactively search for a particular hashtag. 

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Times are changing - the pound sign is now a hashtag, tweets aren't just for birds, and brands want things shared more than a kindergarten teacher. This past week, the Blue Magnet Interactive team set off to explore several educational seminars hosted by Chicago's Social Media Week to stay on the forefront of the everchanging online social landscape. Our online marketing team is eager to share how their key takeaways from these sessions can translate into successful hotel social media marketing campaigns.

What Social Media Week Chicago 2013 session did you attend?

Brittany, Stephanie, and Tim attended Content Marketing That Wins: Making Brands, Readers AND Google Happy to explore high-quality content that will strengthen your brand, give the consumers what they want, and look enticing to search engines.

At this session…

Brittany: The social media and online landscape allows organizations to communicate with individuals on a new, exciting level. But, rather than crafting valuable and engaging social media content, many brands just throw nonsense into the social realm that is completely irrelevant to their brand or audience. As a brand, creating great content comes from understanding who your audience is, assessing what the readers want from the company, managing what action your brand wants readers to take, utilizing the assets that you have, and understanding how the readers talk about the brand or product when they think the brand isn’t listening.

Tim: I think Brittany covered the session overview pretty well. As an industry, we need to reevaluate the content that we post to social media, recall what makes content great, and craft valuable, engaging content for our specific audiences. Great content builds trust, drives measurable consumer action, satisfies a brand’s needs, and is organized around a centralized idea

One of the most interesting things I learned at this session is…

Stephanie: Build a community that makes sense for your brand and demonstrate interest in your user's need to create a value exchange. Look at social media content from a long term perspective and not just a "tweet-based need”.

Brittany: Based on the questions and feedback from individuals in the audience, determining a client-approved ROI for social media marketing and content creation is still difficult for all social media marketers. Attribution modeling is key to how we review social media analytics and performance, but it will certainly take time for this reporting to be more of a norm when working with clients in almost any industry.

Tim: The speakers brought up some really great content examples from the past and compared it to the typical social media content of today. While creativity is almost certain to drop off in social media because of the sheer volume of content, that doesn’t mean that the content should stray from your brand’s centralized idea. Great content is found at the intersection of what a brand can do for their consumers and what their consumers need from the brand. It spurs actions rather than bullying users into conversations.

So, how can a hotelier create winning social media content that drives engagement?

Stephanie: The ROI on social media is not straightforward; you should aim to measure the user’s entire journey. Track your guest from the beginning of the hotel shopping process to the end conversion when they book a room. For example, it’s likely that somebody started clicking around on your hotel’s Facebook page and had their "community experience," then spent  a few minutes on your hotel’s website to learn more information, and several days later when they needed to finalize their trip details, the Facebook fan returned to the site directly to book a room.

Brittany: A majority of people connect with a brand online because they actually want to follow the brands’ posts. Perhaps a fan enjoyed a past hotel stay, are planning a future vacation, are connected to the industry, etc. But, the point is that they sought out the brand or clicked on the content that is being advertised by the hotel. Therefore, it is critical for hotels to serve their audiences with the information they are looking to read. From hotel news to photography and travel advice, taking advantage of your hotel’s resources and crafting a useful, unique story or perspective is the key to social media marketing.

Tim: Social media is an opt-in channel. Therefore, it’s critical for brands to provide content that actually provides value to its users. A strong social media presence builds the brand equity for that specific hotel. The brand equity is an important part of that consumer journey and needs to be considered when discussing ROI.

Read more BMI highlights from other Social Media Week Chicago 2013 sessions.

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Times are changing - the pound sign is now a hashtag, tweets aren't just for birds, and brands want things shared more than a kindergarten teacher. This past week, the Blue Magnet Interactive team set off to explore several educational seminars hosted by Chicago's Social Media Week to stay on the forefront of the everchanging online social landscape. Our online marketing team is eager to share how their key takeaways from these sessions can translate into successful hotel social media marketing campaigns.

What Social Media Week Chicago 2013 session did you attend?

Stephanie attended Good Habits of Successful Social Media Managers to learn new strategies and best practices for delivering successful social media campaigns from other industry professionals.

Chicago Social Media Week 2013

At this session…

Sprout Social moderated a panel made up of social media managers from Divvy Bikes, Grub Hub, and Social Ogilvy. Each social media manager shared their opinions on various topics such as choosing what social networks your brand should be active on, various tools to measure social media performance, and tips for responding to negative comments.

One of the most interesting things I learned at this session is…

A great way to expand your social community organically is to team up with other brands that are relevant to your own. For example, a hotel might want to cross promote (on their social networks) with local vendors they often use for meetings, weddings, etc. This might come as a surprise to many social media managers, but a negative comment is not always a bad thing! It can often provide an opportunity to turn someone who is upset into an evangelist for your brand.

So, what is a best social media practice that the hotel industry should adopt?

Don't feel obligated to be on every social media channel! Before deciding what social networks to be active on, understand the strengths and weaknesses of each channel and how the user behavior differs. Every hotel’s strategy will differ depending on the market, target audience, and resources. So, the channels that work well for one hotel may not be necessary for another hotel.

Read more BMI highlights from other Social Media Week Chicago 2013 sessions.

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Times are changing - the pound sign is now a hashtag, tweets aren't just for birds, and brands want things shared more than a kindergarten teacher. This past week, the Blue Magnet Interactive team set off to explore several educational seminars hosted by Chicago's Social Media Week to stay on the forefront of the everchanging online social landscape. Our online marketing team is eager to share how their key takeaways from these sessions can translate into successful hotel social media marketing campaigns.

What Social Media Week Chicago 2013 session did you attend?

Kelsey, Matt, and Andrea attended Improving Social Media with SEO to glean insight from other marketing professionals on how to integrate SEO tactics into their social media strategy.

At this session…

Carolyn Shelby gave insider tips on how to optimize your online strategy by using SEO to effectively improve the reach of your social media campaigns. One of the key things Carolyn wanted to emphasize was to constantly use the words for which you want to be found. Whether you're posting a blog, a Facebook post, or even describing a Pinterest 'pin', you must consistently use the same primary keywords in all of your online marketing efforts. 

One of the most interesting things I learned at this session is…

Kelsey Nupnau: Google+, Facebook and Pinterest are the top three social media channels that signal cues to the various search engines.

Andrea Mann: When posting social media content on Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest, do not use ambiguous copy! Be descriptive and use the full search term with which you want to be associated. You should be able to take each important keyword out of context and still understand the premise. All social networks have search functionality built in, so by including your full keywords within the copy or description, you are increasing your brand's exposure for relevant searches on that social channel.

So, how can the hotel industry benefit from improving their social media strategy with SEO?

Kelsey Nupnau: If your hotel is allowed to use vanity email addresses based on your vanity (standalone) domain, use them rather than using a gmail or yahoo account. The more exposure you can give to your website's domain name, the better! Also, if your hotel has outstanding photography, get it on Pinterest and be sure to describe each picture well, use the word hotel, and link to a relevant page of your website in case someone wants to click-through to learn more information.

Andrea Mann: Hotels should reinforce their messaging online and offline to be consistent with how they want to be found by shoppers. A hotel marketing team should decide whether they want to brand themselves as the "hotel overlooking Navy Pier" versus the "hotel within walking distance to Navy Pier" and then remain uniform in all marketing efforts. If a hotel coordinates every message sent to shoppers through all of the various online channels, they will create a longer lasting impression and they can eventually impact the way people search for the hotel.

Read more BMI highlights from other Social Media Week Chicago 2013 sessions.

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