As many of you are aware, digital marketing is a rapidly evolving space. To help hoteliers stay relevant and be a strong contender in the online marketing world, we’re publishing a series of articles on the nuances of digital marketing in 2016. If you missed the first article in the series, CLICK HERE to get up-to-speed on our first tip – how to pick the right places to market yourself.
But, once you’ve picked the right areas to focus on, what’s next? How do you make sure your profiles get found by search engines, and give your guests the right information about your property?
Develop an effective SEO strategy
It should come as no surprise that an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy is highly dependent on your hotel’s social media activity. An active social media presence is key to naturally gaining relevant links that will ultimately drive quality traffic to your site and increase conversions.
But, the two are in many ways co-dependent entities: Without an effective social media strategy, your SEO efforts will fail to yield any meaningful results. With that being said, don’t expect obtaining any sort of SEO benefits without also developing an effective social media strategy.
So how does a hotel incorporate SEO best practices into its social media strategy?
Optimize your profiles
Optimize your social media profiles, based on the areas that you chose to focus on when you picked the right places to market yourself. For example, you may have picked TripAdvisor, Google+, and Facebook.
Write your description
When you begin optimizing your hotel’s social media profiles on Facebook and Google+, make sure you acknowledge that Google does index all the content that is displayed on your hotel’s channel starting with the description under the About section.
It is important that you optimize your profile according to how your target audience searches. In the About section, add some rich details about your property and make sure to include keywords based on search queries that potential guests would type in to find you, and information that helps distinguish you from your competitors. For example, including information about opening times, seasonal activities, suitability for children or groups, etc. can help travelers select your attraction.
You could also write your hotel’s description based on what your guests are saying about your property online, and use those positive comments to play up your strengths. Along with optimizing your description, you should also make sure to customize your URL on every channel and keep your property’s name consistent across social platforms. The name of your property should be exactly the same, whether it’s TripAdvisor, Facebook, or Google+. This will help ensure that your page can easily be found in the moment someone needs a place to stay.
Upload photos and videos
Travelers want to know what to expect at your attraction. The more photos and videos on your listing, the more engaged they will be. Recent studies have shown that listings with at least one photo see 138% more traveler engagement and a 225% increase in likelihood of a booking inquiry. You should upload photos to show potential visitors what they can expect and impress them with all the fun to be had at your hotel.
Post on social media regularly
An effective SEO presence is highly dependent on your hotel’s social media activity. In other words, when someone is traveling to Southern California and searching for a hotel, an active social media presence will play an important role in driving traffic to your site and increase conversions/bookings.
This means you not only need to post regularly on your social profiles, but you also need to monitor them for guests and prospective guests who want to interact with you. Make sure you’re answering questions, addressing concerns, and simply saying thank you for reaching out.
Use appropriate hashtags
Incorporating appropriate hashtags into your social media posts is a must, to make your content relevant, trending, and searchable. Hashtags act like keywords that help your posts gain more exposure and visibility. The major social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram allow you to use hashtags to organically attract and gain new followers.
To find out what relevant hashtags to use, make sure to use the available tools provided on each social media channel. For example, on Facebook you can use the Graph Search to get some insight on what hashtags are the most popular. For Twitter, you can find out what hashtags are trending under the trending topics section.
When deciding which hashtags to use, make sure the hashtag you pick is relevant to the photo or video you are sharing. Also, if there is a discussion already surrounding an existing hashtag, you may want to retweet the comment to keep the conversation going. If your hotel is running a contest, this would be a great time to get creative and make up your own hashtag that is unique to your brand and encourage your audience to use it on their own feed. In this way, you can increase your hotel’s brand awareness.
Use visual storytelling
In order to create worthy content that is sharable, your social media marketing strategy should incorporate visual storytelling using highly relevant photos and videos. Appealing photos and videos not only entices prospective guests, but will also improve conversions. The 80/20 rule is a good one to keep in mind here: Make 80% of posts about the local area and 20% about the hotel itself. Users are more likely to get excited about what the area has to offer, so make sure you are highlighting your area’s best features on your social media channels.
Reach out proactively
Last but not least, participate in related communities on social media. Cultivate and build relationships with your guests that will help you organically gain new followers, fans, shares, and +1s. One great way to grow your audience is by running a contest and using a sponsored ad to promote it. Also, if you have a special offer running or if there’s a big event happening in the area, then you may want to reach out to relevant bloggers to inform them of your hotel’s story. This proactive way of finding out who your fans are can be a great way to turn these fans into brand ambassadors for your hotel. Proactively reaching out to your audience influences social sharing and allows you to gain more quality links, which increases your site’s domain authority with search engines like Google. Remember, the more user-generated content your social media encourages, the greater your brand presence and awareness.