TMD Partner Edition: 10 Tips for Optimizing Social Media at Hotels

Millennium Biltmore | Photo courtesy of Michael Locke, Flickr

Facebook, Twitter and TripAdvisor have become essential components of most hotel marketing plans. Improve your social media presence by implementing these tactics.

1. Develop a consistent publishing cadence

To foster an engaged community, it’s essential to share content on a regular basis. Create and adhere to a communications schedule for your social channels. Ideally, your posting cadence should include a few tweets each day, and at least one but no more than two Facebook posts daily. Focus tweets between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., the peak activity hours on Twitter. Don’t neglect the weekend – according to a study from Buddy Media, weekend posts get 69% higher interaction than weekday posts on Facebook. Mornings and evenings are popular on Instagram.

2. Showcase your hotel on Instagram

Instagram offers an opportunity to showcase your hotel through authentic images in real-time, capturing more intimate moments than stock photography. Be sure to share images not only of your hotel, but of other local gems. To maximize the reach of your Instagram content, tag photos with popular hashtags like #nofilter and #discoverLA. Be sure to search for mentions of your property on Instagram as well, and comment, like and share posts from other users to maximize reach and increase your follower count.

3. Monitor activity on property

Enhance the guest experience by monitoring social media activity of guests while on property. In particular, keep an eye on Foursquare and Facebook check-ins, tweets and Instagram photos.

Your guests’ social feedback can help you improve their stay in real time. For example, if a guest tweets that they enjoyed the chocolate chip cookies at your front desk, you can arrange for them to receive a cookie to take home at check-out. And if a guest expresses dissatisfaction with their stay, you can apologize and correct the errors on the spot. 

You can also search for mentions of local attractions, restaurants or neighborhood terms to find people talking about the area surrounding the hotel. Offer advice for what to do, see and visit to become a local go-to expert for visitors.

4. Develop a strategy for repurposing content

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel to create compelling social media content. Whenever possible, streamline your efforts by repurposing content from other marketing activities. For example, press coverage about your property can be shared via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Snippets from your web and newsletter content can also provide social media fodder. Be sure to tag the media outlet in your posts - any retweets, shares or comments from them could result in additional valuable exposure.

Create a process to share your social media content across multiple platforms. After sharing a photo via Instagram, tweet the link and share the photo on Facebook. When posting a video to YouTube, share the link via Facebook and Twitter. And when posting content to Facebook, consider shortening the copy for use as a tweet. Before doing so however, make sure that any content you post should make sense for the specific audience and nuances of each particular social media platform. 

5. Create a Pinterest account for your property

Pinterest is an essential platform to reach women, who are more likely than men to book travel. Create boards not only to showcase your property, but to showcase local gems and content that fits your target guest’s lifestyle. Potential board topics include things to do nearby, style, travel inspiration, weddings and images of your hotel. Be sure to use the new mapping feature to pin the locations of everything you include.

To build a community, focus on two-way engagement. Repin, like and comment on relevant pins from potential guests.

6. Develop an influencer program

Instead of exclusively hosting traditional media on your property, consider hosting social media influencers as well. A highly-engaged social media influencer can generate interest in your property by sharing content about their stay via their blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. When hosting an influential social media user on your property, be clear about your expectations beforehand and come to an agreement on how many posts, minimal, you'd like to see in exchange for taking care of their stay. Offer suggestions for what to do and see and assist them in arranging various experiences that they can then share on their social channels.

To identify and influencers, you can search for people with large follower counts in certain categories on WeFollow, or utilize Instagram tools like Statigram to search relevant hashtags and find people using them who may have a significant following. Often these people have relationships with other influencers in their industry or community that they can connect you with. You can develop a relationship with these potential ambassadors over time by engaging with them on social media – responding to tweets or retweeting, and liking or commenting on Pinterest pins and Facebook posts. Reaching out directly via email, if provided on their profiles or blogs, is also acceptable.

7. Incentivize on-property social sharing

Encourage your guests to share their experiences via social media. Offer discounts or freebies to guests who check in via social media or share content with your handle or hashtag. For example, you can offer a free drink at the hotel bar to guests who show the bartender proof that they’ve checked in.

Include the recognizable social channel logos and your social handles on property collateral, restaurant menus, in-room television channel and the hotel's voicemail recording in the form of a simple call-to-action.

Your web visitors and newsletter subscribers are also ideal candidates to serve as social media brand advocates. Include social media icons in your e-communications and on your website to drive guests and prospects to your social media channels. Encourage subscribers and web visitors to follow your social media properties by offering an incentive, like a sweepstakes or discount.

8. Develop a crisis communications plan

Your social media channels are your first line of defense in a crisis situation. When issues arise, consumers often share the news socially before news breaks via traditional media. All social channels should be monitored consistently – including evenings and weekends – to ensure that any issues are identified and addressed immediately. Designate trusted or trained person or persons to take weekend and evening shifts checking social media for any mentions; setting up app alerts on your mobile phone is the easiest way to catch anything as soon as it comes in.

Social media should be a key component of your property’s crisis communications plan. Make sure you have a process in place to work with your legal and marketing teams to create and disseminate crisis response messaging via social media. It is now one of the first, if not primary, places people turn to for news and information.

9. Reward your community

Encourage and thank your social community by offering exclusive rewards. Consider offering Facebook deals, Instagram giveaways or Foursquare check-in deals, or offer a specific promo code via social media. You can also drive email acquisition by creating a sweepstakes to win a stay at your property. If using Facebook, be sure to hold the sweepstakes on a dedicated Facebook tab to adhere to Facebook’s stringent terms and conditions. Using a third-party service like Woobox or Wildfire to host your sweepstakes will help to ensure your promotion meets Facebook’s guidelines.

10. Humanize your brand

Having a personal touch to the brand image helps customers and potential guests feel more connected to you. Share compelling or interesting behind-the-scenes images and stories - everything from what the chef is cooking up that day to the concierge who's been at the hotel for decades. By featuring other employees, multiple departments and a range of fun trivia and touching stories, you can engage and excite hotel staff as well as bring your followers into the hotel to help them appreciate their experience even more.

For More Information

The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board connects with locals, domestic travelers and international visitors through nearly 20 social media channels. The official Los Angeles Facebook page reaches a community of more than one million people with a shared passion for LA. You can also find LA Tourism on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. Join the conversation by tagging #discoverLA.

For more information or to discuss social media partnership opportunities with LA Tourism, contact our Vice President of Digital Marketing, Bill Karz ([email protected]).