Social Media: How to Manage Social Media in 2012
Phil Benson considers the impact of social media platforms in 2012 and asks what hoteliers can do to manage their business reputation through social media.
One of the biggest trends that will keep on evolving and affecting business in 2012 is the use of social media platforms. Whether you are a fan of them or not, they now play a vital role in an increasing majority of marketing plans within the hospitality industry as Twitter and Facebook accounts are set up as a cheap alternative to promote a company, its facilities, events and what is has to offer.
The use of social media is undoubtedly a positive means of marketing a hotel and a highly cost-effective one. However, it can also have its own drawbacks, as social media sites are open to unhappy people that are able to post complaints on to a company’s Twitter or Facebook account, which prospective customers can see. The grievance might not even be about the hotel at all, but it is still a platform for people to grumble about things like their experience of the city where the hotel is based or flights being delayed. Either way, social media has the potential to attract negative publicity.
With mobile social media available across more and more locations, complaints can now be made real time, so it is even more important for hoteliers to be aware of problems and have someone monitor these internet sites at all times to be able to respond to any negativity coming their way.
How to Managing Social Media
How a social media account is managed will influence how comments are handled. Therefore, having a clear brand identity and personality will help responses to be made using the “correct tone” – and therefore help maintain a hotels reputation.
There are many monitoring tools on the market, such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite for Twitter, which enables hoteliers to see when someone has mentioned their account or hotel name. Google Alerts can also be set up for any other sites so an email is received every time they are mentioned. All complaints should be followed up offline where possible, so as not to get involved in tit-for-tat online arguments, which will only damage a hotels reputation further.
Channel Negative Feedback Away from Social Media
To counter the threat of people posting potentially harmful comments online, many companies are choosing to use online feedback systems to allow customers to voice their feelings. Surveys can be sent out via email after a guest has stayed asking them to give feedback about a variety of topics related to their stay. It is hoped that this method will allow customers to vent their complaints direct to the hotel, without searching for a platform outside of the company to make their negative feelings known.
Social Media: Here to Stay!
Social media also has an integral and important role to play in emerging travel trends. It was at the forefront of tourism marketing activity in 2011, engaging online audiences to offline events. Social media is being used to drive bookings and build loyalty through online loyalty programmes, concierge, customer service and booking tools, capitalising on the ‘friends/followers’ influence.
Hoteliers are now therefore, rethinking and expanding their marketing strategies to incorporate more ways to reach online audiences in a more intimate and personalised way.
As with all trends, there are positives and negatives, but the use of social media has become more widely accepted in all daily business. Therefore, it is important for hoteliers not be left behind by their competitors and to move with the times.