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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What Social Media Week Chicago 2014 session did you attend?

Nicole and Anna attended Advanced Brain Science Web Marketing and Social Media Tools to Get Your Marketing on Track to explore how brain science and web marketing work together to create successful online marketing strategies.

At this session…

Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media reviewed research, case studies, and specific web marketing tactics that work with natural, human behavioral tendencies.

  • Serial Position Effect: Users have higher attention and retention at the beginning and end of lists, menus, websites. Translation: place the good stuff at the beginning and the end to make sure it gets read.
  • Keep content short and simple. Write marketing content at an 8th grade reading level to ensure all users understand the message presented. 
  • Format content for scanners, not readers. Break large chunks of content into smaller sections that are easier to digest.
  • Use color contrasts for call to action. Create an invisible arrow showing your audience where to look. For example, if the girl is looking left in a picture, then the text should be on the left.
  • A case study presented at the session showed that Baskerville is the most credible font.

Hope Bertram of Digital Megaphone and Katy Lynch of Manifest Digital shared free and paid digital marketing tools that help increase traffic and customer engagement.

  • canva.com - allows you to visually enhance imagery for social media posts
  • followerwonk.com - analyzes your Twitter followers, compares them to selected competitors, and shows Twitter bios, interestss and location
  • fakers.statuspeople.com - shows how many fake, inactive, and good users are following your Twitter handle
  • imgflip.com - creates memes, gifs, and pie charts
  • piktochart.com - creates interactive infographics

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

Nicole: When writing blogs, it is most effective for your paragraphs to be 3-4 lines because your readers are most likely just scanning the information. This is something that your hotel should keep in mind when writing landing pages for your website.

Anna: There are several free social media tools, such as fakers.statuspeople.com and followerwonk.com, that can help you research which users your hotels should or should not follow. They are also beneficial tools for eliminating fake and inactive users that spam your hotel's newsfeed or interfere with genuine engagement.

How can a hotelier use brain science, web marketing tactics, and social media tools to produce a successful online marketing strategy?

Nicole: When writing content for your hotel, it’s important to understand how your target audience is reading and understanding the information. Most people have a short attention span, so your hotel's content will be more effective when it is short, simple, and direct. Your hotel's information will also be more effective when it is sent out at the right time and to the right people. Your hotel should be taking advantage of these free or inexpensive social media tools to engage with relevant followers and measure your social media campaigns.

Anna: These behavior tendencies and social media tools can help your hotel properly engage with followers, establish loyalty, and increase guest-retention.

Read more highlights from other Social Media Week Chicago 2014 sessions.

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All social media and internet startups continually refine their products and services to stay current and meet the ever-growing needs and demands of their users. Typically those refinements are aesthetic changes to the layout or added functionality within the current framework to enhance the user-experience. Foursquare's latest changes to their app are much more controversial; Foursquare is completely rebranding and altering the purpose of their current app while also introducing a second app called Swarm. At first glance, this massive overhaul to Foursquare's structure seems rather insane, but it may just be pure brilliance. In the paragraphs to follow, I will explore the difference between Foursquare and Swarm and provide insight into how your hotel should cope with the recent changes.

Why is Foursquare splitting into two apps?

Foursquare's Vice President, Noah Weiss, recently told The Verge that they conducted a study to see how users were interacting with Foursquare and discovered that only 5% of users were opening up the app to find both friends and restaurants. This data inspired them to split Foursquare into two apps, each with a different purpose - Foursquare for finding places in the user's vicinity and Swarm for finding friends via check-ins. By doing so, they simplified the experience for 95% of users, and the small margin of users who use the app for both functions will be able to easily switch back and forth between Foursquare and Swarm as long as they have both apps installed on their device.

 foursquare-vs-swarm

So, what exactly is Swarm and what changes can we expect to see?

  • Swarm is a one-stop-shop for checking-in at certain places (e.g. stores, restaurants, and landmarks) and finding friends who have checked-in somewhere nearby.
  • It allows users to broadcast a post to Swarm friends within their city, helping them facilitate plans with friends. Users can ask vague questions such as, "Beer?" or be more specific and tag a location such as, Anyone want to meet @Steve and me @thetavern at 7:30 for the Chicago Bears game?"
  • It features neighborhood sharing, which shows the user's Swarm friends what neighborhood they are in, even if the user hasn't checked in anywhere. This broad location-sharing feature can be toggled on and off by swiping across the profile picture on the top of the app.
  • It has a modified version of Foursquare's Mayorship guidelines. Users are now only in competition with their Swarm friends and not the entire world, making it more feasible to be crowned the Mayor of their most visited places.
  • Swarm replaces badges, which were intangible rewards users received for various activities, with stickers. Users now attach their own mood or category stickers when they check-in at places to virtually supplement their physical emotions or actions.

What implications does Foursquare's split have on your hotel's social strategy?

With the recent changes, users can no longer check-in to places on Foursquare, so if your hotel has used check-in functionality in the past, you (or your hotel's social media manager) should download the Swarm app immediately. You don't need to do anything else on property to set up your hotel's Swarm account other than downloading the app. Even though Foursquare and Swarm are separate apps, all information that is updated on Foursquare will automatically push through to Swarm. Therefore, you don't need to worry about having to update each app individually; the update process is very efficient for business owners. For example, updating your hotel's address on Foursquare will automatically update the address on Swarm. If your hotel does not currently have a Foursquare or Swarm account, simply set up a Foursquare account online and then download both apps.

Moving forward, it will be important to monitor user activity on both apps. Foursquare will now serve as a local search tool like Yelp. Users will be able to leave reviews about their experience and upload pictures. So, as with any online review site, it is imperative to actively monitor guest reviews on Foursquare and respond accordingly to both the positive and the negative comments. While users cannot leave feedback or reviews on Swarm, they will be checking-in to your hotel's location to let their friends know their whereabouts. If the user chooses to connect their Swarm account to other social media networks, like Twitter, it will share Swarm check-ins on the user's Twitter account. Just as your hotel monitored Twitter for Foursquare check-ins in the past, you should now monitor Swarm check-ins and initiate a one-on-one conversation to personalize users' experiences.


Although the apps will likely continue to evolve, I anticipate that you will spend more time managing your hotel's Foursquare presence than Swarm since that is where users are going to be leaving reviews, asking questions, and posting pictures. Your hotel should ensure that it has a strategy in place to monitor Foursquare regularly and take any necessary actions. Swarm should not require as much time and effort to maintain or monitor, as users will be interacting with nearby friends rather than exploring nearby places. But your hotel should make sure to encourage guests to use Swarm to check into the property because that will help extend your reach into their network of Swarm friends.

Will Swarm be a success?

While Swarm is still in its infancy, Foursquare has stated that over 75% of its users have already downloaded Swarm and are actively using both apps. As far as what the future holds for Foursquare, I will defer to what Will Smith first told Eminem when he began growing in popularity: "You will either be the biggest flop, or the biggest thing we've ever seen." While that may be a slight exaggeration as to the fate of both Foursquare and Swarm, it also may be spot on. If Foursquare is able to contend with Yelp in the local search market and Swarm goes toe to toe with the check-in features of Facebook, Foursquare and Swarm could both be heading for success.

While the fate of Foursquare and Swarm remains in the air, one thing is certain, all restaurants, hotels, and entertainment establishments would be remise not to utilize both apps to their full extent. Both apps serve an important purpose to consumers, so as long as consumers are searching for information, leaving reviews, and checking-in on both Foursquare and Swarm, business owners must ensure that users are finding correct and relevant information. Over the next few months as we begin to see how both apps mature and grow, we will be able to provide a more in-depth look into the opportunities for hotels on both apps, but for now we highly recommend downloading Swarm and seeing what all the buzz is about!

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Earlier this month, my colleague and I had the pleasure of attending WeddingWire World Chicago on behalf of Blue Magnet Interactive. The event intended to educate vendors about different strategies for successfully marketing their wedding business online. After a fun-filled day attending panel discussions and presentations by industry experts, we walked away armed with the latest trends and insightful tips for marketing your hotel's wedding business. In this blog, we'll share our key takeaways from WeddingWire's event, including facts and figures provided by the speakers, to ensure that you are well-equipped to market your hotel as an ideal venue for weddings and receptions.

Top 4 takeaways from WeddingWire World Chicago

1. Implement a social media strategy. Today's potential wedding client is social.
2. Take wedding reviews seriously. Today's potential wedding client does their homework.
3. Ensure your website is mobile-optimized. Today's potential wedding client is mobile. 
4. Revamp marketing materials and contracts to be inclusive of same-sex couples. Today's potential wedding client is attuned to social issues and perceptions.

wedding wire chicago

 

Social Media: As a wedding vendor, why should you implement a social media strategy?

Did you know that 1 out of every 4 minutes spent online is specifically spent on a social networking site? Today's engaged couple is extremely social, and typically begins the research phase of selecting a wedding reception site by browsing your social media pages and looking for things like pictures, reviews and the vendor's personality. The speakers offered countless tips for sharing wedding content on social media to help generate more engagement and sell your services as a wedding vendor.

Some of our favorite recommendations that can be applied to your hotel's social strategy include:

  • Sell your area and features. If a highlight of your hotel is the stunning view of the bay from the rooms on the top floor, ask your followers a no-brainer question. For example, ask: What view do you want to wake up to after your special day?
  • Ask open ended questions. It's easy to answer yes or no, so challenge your followers to engage with your hotel by asking a question that elicits an emotion. For example, ask: Where do you want your first dance to be, and why?
  • Get specific. Find out the key elements that your guests look for when planning their wedding so you can tailor your content to their interests. For example, ask: What is the top thing you need to make your wedding a success?
  • Utilize thank you cards and photos from previous weddings. Ask the couple if you can "show them off" on your social channels to give your followers a better visual of what they can expect at their own wedding. Showing remnants from a happy couple's wedding will resonate with followers more so than images from a staged photo shoot.

Online Reviews: Why should your hotel develop an online wedding review strategy?

If you haven't been encouraging your previous clients to share their experience through a review yet, this needs to be one of your top priorities! In fact, 95% of engaged couples use online reviews to select wedding vendors. In addition, younger generations are very inclined to read reviews; If your hotel does not have a positive reputation on various online review sites, it will probably struggle to attract any millennial shoppers.

Some key tips to ensure your hotel acquires valuable wedding reviews or testimonials include:

  • Give your clients a reason to write a review. Did you do something extraordinary to make their big day special? Did you exceed their expectations? What makes your location unique versus other places they could have held their wedding or reception?
  • Where can people find reviews of weddings at your hotel? Do you utilize a service like WeddingWire to specifically collect reviews on weddings and receptions at your hotel? Are you getting reviews on Facebook? Google+? Through email? One way to help with collecting reviews is to ask guests who mail or email you a review if they could share what they wrote on your preferred review site. Be sure to send them a link to your hotel's listing when you ask!
  • Capture the essence of your hotel's wedding venue with video reviews. Do you have a wedding planner who really connects with the couple on their wedding day? Ask the couple if it would be alright to catch them in a happy moment and ask them a fun question. This way, the couple doesn't have to worry about writing something later, and you can actually capture the experience you are trying to sell.

Mobile Strategy: Why must your hotel have a mobile-optimized website (or at the very least, a mobile-optimized micro-site specifically for weddings)?

81% of people leave a website when they have a bad mobile experience. A bad experience is typically a result of the website not being properly optimized for mobile users. While Blue Magnet Interactive has strongly encouraged hotel websites to be mobile-optimized since the beginning of the "mobile trend," it was pretty astonishing to hear this statistic at WeddingWire World!

Hotels that use email marketing to promote their wedding space need to be especially aware of mobile optimization because 65% of people open emails on their phone. The industry pros at the WeddingWire event recommended checking that the emails you send out are mobile-optimized, providing content that is to the point, and ensuring that the email itself is free of overwhelming amounts of text and images. More so, the links embedded in your email campaigns are likely pointing to your website, so if a user comes straight from a mobile-optimized email to a website that is not mobile-optimized, you are more likely to lose that potential client.

One of the speakers shared an interesting perspective regards to websites, pointing out that: "You don't get business from your website but rather through your website." We felt this was important because your website doesn't necessarily yield direct business; often times it's the information you provide on your website, and the experience you provide guests that generates client interest. They see the information on your website and then decide to connect with you, whether it be through your website's contact form, by phone, or through email. At Blue Magnet, we know that a hotel's website is specifically designed to help answer any questions a potential client or engaged couple may have, and often is an important resource towards the beginning of the shopping phase; so, by the time a client is ready to book a wedding at your hotel they've gained the necessary information through your website and are ready to contact you to move onto the next step.

LGBTQ Community: Does your hotel's marketing material and contracts contain inclusive language? How should your hotel be connecting with same-sex couples?

Kathryn Hamm from Gayweddings.com gave an outstanding overview of the growth the LGBTQ community has seen over the years and why vendors should be connecting with this segment now more than ever before. To start, Hamm mentioned that 77% of people under the age of 30 support gay marriage, meaning, acceptance is continuously growing. Additionally, she explained that 46% of same sex marriages wed in the couple's home state. The remainder of same sex couples travel, usually due to the restrictions of their home state. Therefore, if your hotel is located in a state that currently allows gay marriage, you should be actively marketing your wedding space to target the LGBTQ community, as there are likely more out-of-state wedding shoppers..

Kathryn also reminded the audience to avoid "vendor awkwardness." Believe it or not, one of the biggest concerns that LGBTQ couples face when planning their wedding is not due to cost, but rather anxiety: "When I call, is the vendor going to hang up on me?" To avoid vendor awkwardness and assure all clients that their queries will be well-received make sure your hotel markets itself as being inclusive and accepting.

A few ways you can ensure your hotel's marketing materials are inclusive of all couples include reviewing your:

  • Wedding Photos - Are the photos on your website and marketing materials only showing a traditional wedding, with a bride and groom? Add some wedding photos featuring all types of couples to show that your venue is not exclusive. This allows all engaged couples to truly envision their wedding or reception at your hotel.
  • Marketing Materials & Contracts - What type of language are you using across your website, marketing materials and contracts? Does it still use presumptuous language like "bride and groom?" Replace any instances of exclusivity with more inclusive terms like "engaged couple" or "partner".
  • Your Resource List - Do the professionals that you work with support gay marriage? Make sure your recommended and preferred vendors also support the LGBTQ community so you don't accidentally send a client astray.

Based on the changes happening across the country, particularly in Congress, Hamm left us all with one final question: Will your business be ready to support same-sex marriages by June 2015?

Overall, we gained some great insight into the wedding industry and learned several helpful tips to help hotels market their wedding space more effectively, all while having an awesome time mingling and networking! To learn more about WeddingWire World Chicago, be sure to search the hashtag #WWWorld. We welcome your questions and feedback so be sure to connect with us on Twitter @Blue_Magnet!

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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 you have thought about going on a diet before, you have probably done some initial research to determine the right diet plan for you. And, like most people who finally decide to pull the trigger on a diet, you were probably hoping to find something that promises to deliver fast results … as in, yesterday. While you were investigating these self-proclaimed miracle diet products or meal plans, you probably noticed how easy the ads always make it look. They all claim “Just eat or drink [this] twice-a-day and never diet again” or “ban [this] from your diet forever and drop 10 pounds”. Just like these popular dieting fads, there are always new buzz words, trends, or social media sites emerging in online marketing that immediately catch hoteliers’ eyes and seem to be the “answer” that they have been searching for. They get laser-focused on that one new “it” thing. They pour all of their resources into that one marketing channel, whether it is SEO, Pinterest, or something else they have read about, and they expect a quick-fix. They expect, or at least hope, that their hotel will immediately begin ranking #1 on Google for hundreds of keywords, and their hotel will be at 100% occupancy every night. But of course, that’s not realistic, and deep down they know it.

Why doesn’t a fad diet/marketing strategy produce ideal results in the long run? Because these strategies are not focusing on the big picture and long term investment. My mom has always preached “everything is okay in moderation” and “haste makes waste”, and I think she is on to something here. (Yes, mom, you were right.) I have tried several short-lived diets, and I have even succumbed to a torturous juice cleanse in the past, and I always lose the weight only to gain it back as soon as I start eating a normal diet again. I have witnessed similar mishaps in the online marketing world. Everyone starts talking about the importance of linkbuilding. And then an SEO gets the bright idea to try to produce a miracle by cheating the system. They begin implementing some spammy linkbuilding tactics to speed up the results – what marketers refer to as “black hat SEO”. They go out and solicit any site and every site for free links back to the hotel’s website, most of which are completely irrelevant to the hotel. While the hotel may reap some benefits and rank well in Google for a few days or weeks, it won’t be long before Google catches wind of the gimmick and penalizes the hotel for failing to adhere to standard guidelines. What happens when Google slaps you on the wrist? The blackhat SEO plan backfires, the hotel drops several pages in Google’s rankings, guests can’t find the hotel’s website organically, and online bookings plunge rapidly. At Blue Magnet Interactive, we strive to create a holistic, multi-channel online marketing strategy for every hotel that we partner with because all of the various marketing components are always much more effective and produce much better results when working in tandem. Our team always follows best practices, even though that often requires more time and resources, because doing online marketing correctly the first time is a much better long term investment for the hotel.

Creating a diet/multi-channel marketing strategy that works for your hotel

It all boils down to finding the healthiest marketing mix for your particular hotel – a marketing mix that will help your hotel achieve its specific goals. When it comes to dieting, everyone has their own goals, whether it is losing weight, getting toned, or running a marathon. Everyone also has their own dietary requirements depending on their health, lifestyle, and fitness regimen. If you run 10 miles a day, you might aim for a larger carbohydrate intake than the person sitting next to you. While it is important for every hotel to have a strategy in place for its website content, SEO, social media, paid advertising, and email marketing; the actual strategy and investment in each strategy should differ from hotel to hotel. In order to determine what multi-channel marketing strategy is going to be most effective for your hotel, your hotel team needs to assess its current marketing strategy, establish realistic goals, and determine areas of improvement that are of utmost priority. If your hotel does not have a beautiful wedding space and scenic room views, you may find that you can cut Pinterest out of your marketing budget. If you realize that your hotel has been spending $1000 on a paid search campaign but your hotel doesn’t have a user-friendly website with informative content, you may realize that it’s best to halt your paid media spend and invest in a website redesign and content refresh before paying for more traffic. Once you have determined your marketing goals and needs, you can work with your hotel marketing team to put a multi-channel strategy in place for the next several months – knowing that it is going to take some time before your hotel is sold out every night. But if you continue to follow best practices and invest in a healthy strategy, you’ll get there in due time! You have to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run – no one expects you to be running a marathon tomorrow. As with dieting, you will continue to “weigh-in” regularly and refine your hotel’s online marketing strategy.

Presentation Deck

We were honored to be invited to attend and present at a hotel management company’s leadership conference in Annapolis, Maryland this past week. Our presentation deck below uses this dieting/marketing analogy to visually depict how Blue Magnet Interactive approaches a multi-channel marketing strategy to maximize your hotel’s online visibility and drive online revenue.

When creating your hotel’s marketing plan, it’s important to examine the journey a consumer takes when traveling, because, at a high level, it is very similar for all consumers. They begin dreaming about taking a trip. They start doing their research and planning. Eventually they book their hotel, flight, rental car, etc. They travel to their destination and have an experience. Whether it’s a good experience or a bad experience, they will likely share their vacation stories and photos with friends, family, and anonymous strangers, which will then inspire the next person to begin dreaming about a much-needed vacation. For a hotel to successfully master a multi-channel strategy, they need to optimize all of the various channels that consumers interact with during any of these stages of travel. The deck below gives multiple examples that show how a hotel can diversify their channel marketing and optimize each channel with consistent, informative, and unique content in order to deliver the best possible experience, both online and offline.



Is your hotel on a diet? If you need help determining the best online marketing strategy for your hotel, please contact us. 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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In case you missed our hotel mobile strategy workshop at the Online Revealed Canada Conference this year, we're sharing our deck so you can ensure your hotel is properly optimized on mobile!

ORC2014 Mobile Strategy Session Description:

With so many people using their smartphones and tablets on-the-go, it’s vital for hoteliers to be targeting a mobile audience in each stage of travel – from planning to booking to experiencing. Does your hotel have a mobile-friendly website and is it providing an optimal user-experience? Is your hotel effectively capturing nearby searchers looking for a last minute room? Is your hotel team proactively encouraging your guests to share their positive experiences on Facebook? If your hotel does not have a mobile-strategy in place, than you may be losing potential guests to your mobile-savvy competitors. In this session, Blue Magnet Interactive will walk you through the necessary mobile channels that your hotel needs to be optimizing to increase bookings and drive more revenue in 2014!

 

 

Want to Get Started?

Be sure to download Blue Magnet Intearctive's Mobile Strategy Checklist to kickstart your hotel's mobile strategy!

If you have any questions (and can ask it in 140 characters or less), tweet us at @Blue_Magnet. For those of you that struggle with the art of brevity, you can contact us here.

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If you're anything like me, you may occasionally find yourself Googling acronyms you overhear colleagues, clients, friends, or even your little nephew say in order to decode their seemingly cryptic code. In the fast paced digital world we're all living in, shortened phrases can save us time… when we know what they mean. Unfortunately, we don't always know what they mean and oftentimes they vary across industries and professions. In the hotel marketing world, it's not uncommon to overhear some conversation along the lines of: "Will you log out of the CMS then check the CTRs of our latest PPC campaign and update the KPI report by EOD? Please, and thanks!" You stand there for a second, puzzled. She wants her to do what?!

In this post, we'll uncover the mystery behind some of the most commonly used digital marketing acronyms to help hoteliers make sense of our hotel online marketing jargon.

Website Terms

CMS: Content Management System
Hotel Marketer Context: "Can you provide us with the login to your hotel website's CMS?"

Content Management Systems are web-based tools that allow you, as a website administrator, to easily update your site's content without needing to be intimately familiar with HTML coding. A CMS helps you arrange how your website will look, determine what it will say, and point to where your links will lead. The beauty of a CMS is that it takes care of much of the "behind the scenes" work that non-technical website admins might otherwise spend hours attempting to figure out. At Blue Magnet Interactive, we build our clients' websites on open source CMSs like Joomla or Wordpress, which provide user-friendly interfaces and allow clients to have more control over their hotel's website in the long run.

UX: User Experience
Hotel Marketer Context: "We're designing your hotel's new standalone site to have a cleaner layout and overall improved UX."

Remember the last time you visited a website that took so long to load that you gave up on your search? Or when you landed on a homepage that was so cluttered with text and flashing images that your eyes didn't know where to look first? Or, my favorite, when the website's text is in such a searingly bright color that you can barely make out the words on the page? These are all examples of poor user experience. Since websites are meant to be marketing tools that help generate sales, your hotel's website should be designed in the most user friendly way possible.

Wondering what makes a website user friendly? In two simple words: site architecture. A site with a good UX usually has a fast page load time, logical link structure, clean layout, and no 404 errors. To put it bluntly, if your guests aren't thinking about how impossible it is to book a room on your website, your site is probably providing a good user experience!

Advertising Terms

CTR: Click-Through Rate
Hotel Marketer Context: "Your hotel's latest e-newsletter had a 14% CTR when we featured the holiday package. That's the highest rate we've seen so far!"

ctr meme

In layman's terms: CTR = total people who clicked your content / total people who saw your content

In advertising terms: CTR = total clicks / total reach

Example: 750 people clicked your Facebook ad / 25,000 people saw your Facebook ad = 3% CTR

Click-through rates ultimately indicate how compelling your content is. Was it compelling enough to get a visitor to click the button, link, or ad? As a hotelier, you may have heard your marketing specialist refer to CTR when reviewing your hotel's email marketing campaign (what was the CTR of the link to your website?), assessing your hotel's Expedia TravelAd reports (what was the CTR of shoppers actually clicking the ad they were exposed to?), or when reporting how well your hotel's Facebook ad performed (what was the CTR of Facebook users who saw the ad and actually clicked the link to "like" your page?). The more relevant and interesting your content is to your audience, the higher the click-through rate will be.

Strategic marketers have gotten very creative with ways to increase their campaigns' CTRs. In reference to website links, one of the smartest marketers I know once said, "Where there's traffic, there's hope." The higher the CTR, the more website traffic, the better and the chances you'll sell your hotel rooms! See where I'm going with this?

PPC: Pay Per Click
Hotel Marketer Context: "If April is a high need period for your hotel, we can set up a PPC campaign targeting mobile searches to bring in more website traffic."

Pay Per Click is an advertising model that we talk about mainly when referring to online ads. These types of ads show up as "sponsored" results on search engine result pages. We use PPC advertising to capture the attention of customers who would likely otherwise click on the first organic search result they see. The beauty of PPC is that advertisers only pay for desired actions taken by their audience rather than paying for an advertisement's total exposure.

*BONUS acronym* "CPC" stands for "cost per click" and is an advertising metric often referenced in conjunction with PPC campaigns. For example, while running a PPC ad campaign, you may find that your average CPC is $0.35. In other words, you are paying $0.35 each time someone clicks your ad. PPC advertisements should be highly targeted using keywords and demographic metrics. More on PPC tips for your hotel here.

Search Engines Terms

SEM: Search Engine Marketing
Hotel Marketer Context: "This month we're focusing on our SEM efforts by identifying more link building opportunities for your property."

Here's a topic all of us at BMI could go on and on (and on and on) about, but instead, I'll kindly give you the short summary. Search Engine Marketing refers to a whole slew of online tactics we use to improve a website's overall ranking in search results. Specifically with hotel marketing, our SEM efforts combine search engine optimization (and all that SEO entails), local listings, social media, link building, and PPC advertising (aren't you glad you already understand that acronym?!).

SERP: Search Engine Results Page
Hotel Marketer Context: "After updating the meta content for your hotel's website, the site is now ranking 3 positions higher on Google's SERP!"

(Pronounced like "Slurp" but without the "L". Try it. It's kind of fun to say.) I'm willing to bet that you already know more about SERPs than you think. Any time you enter a search term or phrase into Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine, the information and links to related websites that the search engine returns on your screen make up SERPs. Some of the key components you'll see on SERPs include organic search results, sponsored search results, social search results, rich snippets of information that Google thinks you'll be interested in, and Google's "carousel" of location based results.

Local Search Terms

NAP: Name, Address, Phone
Hotel Marketer Context: "We're auditing all of your hotel's local listings to make sure your hotel's NAP is consistent throughout the internet."

NAP (also sometimes called NAP-W or NAP-U ["W" stands for "Website", or "U" for "URL"]) refers to your hotel's online identity. In the messy, unpredictable world of local listings, the more consistently your hotel's NAP appears across listings, the more trusted your hotel will be in the eyes of search engines (and guests). So, for example, you don't want use your hotel's 1-800 number in one listing while using its local number in another. Also, be careful not to abbreviate addresses in some listings (St. vs. Street) while fully spelling them out in others. While Google is pretty darn smart, it can be easily confused by conflicting NAPs. Bottom line: to ensure your hotel avoids an identity crisis and establishes authority in search results, NAP consistency is key!

Social Media Terms

RT: Re-tweet
Hotel Marketer Context: "Last month your hotel's Twitter account had 15 RTs which led to an overall increase in website referral traffic from Twitter."

Re-tweets are one of the most important Twitter metrics for measuring successful patterns of audience engagement. RTs are essentially social re-shares of your message to a new audience that was otherwise out of your reach. For example, let's say your hotel wants to drive room sales so you tweet a special discount code. Your followers will see your discount code, and, if the deal is juicy enough, one of your followers may RT your message to his network of followers. This ripple effect will allow your message to be seen by not only your followers, but also by the followers of anyone who RT-ed your message. The more RTs your tweets get, the wider the reach and exposure your message will receive. Ensure your tweets are informative, compelling, or humorous to increase your chances of getting a RT.

AWDLY: Are We Done Learning Yet?

There are hundreds of other digital marketing related acronyms out there, but by understanding some of these more commonly used terms, you'll be able to better understand your hotel marketer's reports and recommendations.

If you're ever unsure of what a digital marketing acronym stands for, tweet us at @blue_magnet and we'll do our best to explain it to you in 140 characters or less!

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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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