The big guys already include social media as a major part of their marketing plan, but how can independent owners of small hotels and restaurants use it and still have time to run their business?
When I was running my little sandwich deli I was very inexperienced and naive. I had worked for a few bigger corporate owned hotels and restaurants so I never thought that one day I would have to rely on myself to advertise and market on my own. I was used to the company handling all of that for me. All I had to do was manage employees and guests.
But when you’re on your own, you’re in charge of every aspect of your business, including marketing.
A quick word.
You’re probably very familiar with the fact that social media is the preferred method of guests to communicate about their experiences at your hotel or restaurant.
The rule used to be one unhappy guest will tell eleven others while a happy guest will only tell three.
But now the unhappy guest has the potential to reach hundreds. So your presence and reputation inside of your business as well as within the social media world are extremely important, especially since you already know that small business owners feel every complaint in their heart and in their wallet.
The big guys can shake a complaint or two off, we can’t.
Marketing, in its simplest form, is basically just about making others aware of your business.
In the past this was done by word of mouth, grand openings, huge signs, press releases, handing out fliers, newspaper write-ups, etc. Each of these methods took time and money. But you never knew if this was going to work. You never knew if you should hold on to the little bit of money you have or use it to build your business’s reputation.
Then came social media. The reach, efficiency, and low cost of social media were quickly realized and jumped on by marketing agencies and divisions of the big boys.
The problem is, you have to use social media correctly.
So, how do hotels and restaurants use social media correctly?
This is perhaps one of the most difficult questions for me to answer.
To use it correctly takes time; time you may not have if you’re running a business, have a family or want to have some sort of life.
You need a marketing plan, you need to learn how to use the different types of social media to your advantage, and you need to take the time every day to engage with your fans.
Social media is all about the engagement. It’s all about posting content that your fans will want to see or comment on, and then responding to their comments. It’s about having a conversation or dialogue with your customers.
I’m going to go over some steps on how to get started with social media. This will give you an overview, and you can choose to spend more or less time with social media as you see fit.
First, sign up and start a profile.
Yup. Step one is as easy as that. It’s free to start a social profile for you or for your business. Here’s a quick list of the major social sites: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.
Every social site will have step by step instructions to walk you through getting started. They will also have extremely detailed help pages if you need them.
Take the time to form a plan.
Most think that social media is as simple as posting a few times a day or week about your business. But, if you want to see real results, you have to do more than that. You have to create an online personality that others will want to interact with.
That means you need to form a plan. That way you stay on track with the messages you send out regarding you and your business.
There are a few things to keep in mind while forming your social media plan:
Decide who will be responsible for social media.
Will you take charge, will you assign someone else, or multiple people? This is important for communication and to stay consistent across the board.
Remember, you’re talking to an audience.
But don’t talk about yourself all the time.
Your goal is to show that you are a knowledgeable and reliable source of information within your industry, so every message you post should be something your audience will be interested in. You’ll want to talk about things that happen in your community, not just what is happening within the walls of your business.
If you talk about yourself all the time, people will begin to ignore you.
Engage. Respond. Communicate. Apologize. Thank.
When you’re walking through your dining room or lobby and talking to guests you’re doing all of these. Do the same online.
You fans will have questions about your business or they’ll have complaints and other things to say. Just as if they were in front of you or speaking to you personally, they expect to be acknowledged online. Remember, this is a great way to handle customer service.
This is a chance to really get to know your guests, what they like and dislike, what they are doing, etc. It’s also a great way to gain new ideas for your business and to see what other businesses are doing.
Always remember to stay current.
Social media for hotels and restaurants is constantly developing. Everyday consumer tastes and habits change. Keep up with the trends to keep your business successful and on the forefront of your target audience’s mind.
Consider getting help from an expert.
Because social media is constantly changing it does require a certain level of attention that not all of us have, or want to dedicate to the medium. Luckily, because social media is so new and because it is a less costly way to communicate with an audience, there are more and more experts willing to work with your business to form a social media strategy and then help to maintain it.
Here is more information on getting help.
If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to reply to me in the comments section. I respond to all comments. You can also contact me directly.
Because social media is an ever-increasing part of our business, please share this on any social profiles you may already have or through email with your friends and colleagues. They’ll thank you.
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