It was only a mere eight months ago that I was writing on such ‘novel concepts’ such as how best to market a hotel on Twitter. Well, it shocks me to say it, but Twitter is now a firmly ‘established’ entity in the online world and there’s nothing very avant-garde about it. Much like Facebook fan pages, the fair share of hotels have an online presence here and most people who want to be on Twitter are already using the application, and quite adroitly at that.
It’s a mature product, and as such, strategies have changed once more. Without that newcomer panache, Twitter users are far less ‘excitable’ than they were even six months ago. Just being active for the sake of activity is the status quo – water under a vast digital bridge – and it won’t sway consumers. So, how can hotels reinvigorate their online marketing campaign?
Here are four suggestions to keep your social media efforts alive and well, or help get you off the ground floor is you’re a late entrant to the Twitter game:
- Quality of Followers – Whenever someone evaluates a Twitter account, the first attribute they’ll likely look at is the number of followers. It’s a quantity that can be easily relayed up and down the management chain to track progress. There’s also the crowd theory aspect at play – people will only listen to you if others are already listening. First, keep in mind that getting followers is easy. If you dedicate yourself to following industry leaders and other travel personalities, a fair amount will follow you back. Rinse and repeat until you’re in the quadruple digits. Aside from increasing your followers from a pool of related users, you have look for quality followers – friends you actually talk with. These are the people who respond to your tweets and promote your material to their followers. Foster these Twitter relationships by replying to questions through public messages or reading your feed and retweeting interesting material to your followers. Make lists and form genuine relationships with these individuals. Twitter is, of course, just another avenue to find and connect with other people.
- Maintain Frequency – Quality trumps quantity, but much like the number of followers, your daily number is important. With so many tweets every hour and so many users generating content, you need frequency so that your followers will see your tweets when they login at various times throughout the day. Two or three tweets a week between Monday and Friday is the bare minimum to show that you are fully committed to using this online channel. Retweeting and quoting captivating messages from your quality followers will help fill the gaps. A good way to maintain frequency is to use Twitter management software to schedule your tweets for various times throughout the day. The key is to develop your message and be consistent with it.
- Vary Your Tweets – Maintaining frequency and constantly rolling out interesting material requires foresight and a certain amount of variety to keep your audience engaged. Inundating Twitter users with the same type and style of tweets is boring. Their eyes will glaze over. For example, if all your tweets adhere to the format of text-hashtags-link, then it all appears the same in consumers’ minds. Instead, thimblerig your words around with something like link-text-hashtags – subtle but it’ll make a difference. Thinking long-term, organize a release schedule so your interesting factoids can be interspersed with promotional material, public messages and retweets. Build anticipation to future events through direct announcements and by appealing to your cabal of loyal Twitter friends. Write a few ‘Did You Know?’ blog articles then leave some click-through style tweets for people to find your blog. Variety is critical because you don’t know exactly what will pique the interest of different people. As a hotel, some of your followers may be seeking deals or new offers, while others may be more entertainment focused. Cover all possible avenues and you’ll end up engaging the largest audience.
- Online Concierge – One of the best functions of Twitter is that the program is an easy, non-invasive way for people to contact you directly to inquire about your property. Treating this social media channel as an online concierge is a paramount virtue to uphold, because ultimately it’s all about customer satisfaction. Start by announcing your followers that you are available to answer their questions through Twitter. Remind your audience to connect with you prior to arriving at your property. Stay up to date on fun activities and seasonal events in your area. Reply with links to more in-depth resources. Make sure all your social media channels are integrated with each other and with Twitter so any curious users can easily locate your Facebook fan page, blog, or any other site which may help. When potential guests contact you, respond fully and promptly. They’ll remember your efforts and reward you in kind by talking about your property to their followers or to their friends in person.
(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published on eHotelier on November 28, 2011)