Category Archives: Social Media

Five Wishes for Hotels and Social Media in 2011

Brian Bagel, TIG’s Social Media Manager, has some tips for hoteliers to use in the social media space this year.

  1. Put your on-staff experts to work. Many hotels have a tremendous advantage in social media. People on their staff have a duty to be experts in certain subjects. Your concierge is an expert on your hotel’s surroundings. Your chef is a food expert. Your gardener’s job is to make things grow. Your decorator’s job is to make the environment warm and beautiful. People want to know about what they know! There are entire TV networks dedicated to this stuff. If you can get them to write a few sentences every month, you’ve got yourself some tremendous social media fodder.
  2. More social media only offers. Social media specific rate codes for your fans and followers still aren’t utilized to the extent that I think they should be. You want your social media following to think they’re getting something special from time to time. An extra 5 or 10% off on a room for certain periods can go a very long way. The discounts don’t need to be Groupon-level steep, but enough to show your biggest fans that you appreciate them.
  3. Someone to really take a big foursquare/Facebook Places leap. I’ve seen plenty of specials that offer people glasses of wine, food, and rewards points, but I haven’t seen anyone go all out yet. Why not try to get some buzz and give away free rooms for a larger number of check-ins? Or why haven’t brands really taken to the services and linked check-ins across multiple locations for super-offers like major retailers have? I’d love to see that and I’m sure frequent customers would as well.
  4. Cross promotion. Social media doesn’t live on an island. I’ve said this many times, and yet I still want to see more. Social media is best supplemented by online and offline collateral. People need to be made aware that your property has a social media presence. I’ve seen more and more commercials touting a Facebook page rather than a website. I think now is the time for hotels to get in that game.
  5. Fewer minutias. There was a time when a post like “it’s sunny today” went over like gangbusters. It was simple, felt personal, and kept a social presence active. I’m not saying that those kinds of posts are now bad, but there are too many of them. I’d love to see more depth. Tell me about an interesting event going on in the area that people from outside your location might not know about. Or tell me about an interesting sign you saw near your property, and post a photo. That’s the kind of content that has a better chance of getting shared and keeping your fans and followers engaged.
 Social is no longer something that can be ignored. And while it might not be perfect for every hotel, it is an important option for most. There are a number of benefits, including the rise in social media’s footprint in natural search results that can be taken advantage of with a little bit of effort and ingenuity. While many hotels have done an excellent job in social media, there’s no reason hospitality shouldn’t be a leader in the social space.

Hotels that can successfully navigate social media will find themselves ahead of their competition

Over a period of three month, NYC’s Seventh Art Media tracked the content performance of 75 hotel brands on Facebook to highlight social media strategies that deliver on brand impressions and those that don’t. The company identified six key factors for hotels and resorts to take into account in order to see a lasting marketing performance on Facebook.

Catch the full story at Seventh Art Media

Social Media As A Sales Tool

Many companies are starting to experiment with social media and how it can be integrated into their overall marketing strategy to support company goals and objectives.

In addition to creating and promoting a corporate presence on various social media Web sites, it also makes sense for sales professionals to become familiar with social media, and to use it for the benefit of their business. 

Getting involved in social media can offer value to sales professionals, without requiring hours of time.  In fact, there are a number of benefits to be gained by spending only minutes a week on popular social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.  

Take advantage of these six guidelines for engaging in social media as a sales tool:

1.  Connect with and make better use of your professional network. Sales is a relationship business, and professional social media sites (such as LinkedIn) provide an additional way for account executives to enhance their relationships with clients and prospects alike. 

Social media offers you another platform – beyond more traditional email and telephone conversations – for connecting with key contacts that you wish to reach out to and engage with further.  Not only will you learn more about them, but they can gain a better understanding of your expertise, your thought leadership and the value you have to offer.  Social media is also a useful way to obtain referrals and recommendations from your contacts, helping you grow your network.  

2.  Learn more about your prospects and clients. Social media also offers an excellent way to gather intelligence from your contacts.  Pay close attention to the professional profiles of your clients and prospects, looking for anything that can make you more successful in conversations with them. 

The intelligence that can be gleaned from a prospect’s or client’s profile can help to identify common ground and enhance the sales conversation.  For example, examine their previous experience – maybe they have worked at another company in the past that is a client of yours.  Or read more about their education, as you may find something you can use as a way to begin a conversation or make a connection.

Also, be mindful of the fact that your professional contacts – prospects, clients, other colleagues – are likely using social media sites to learn more about you and your company as well.  Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you are displaying a complete and professional profile.

3.  Identify decision-makers and other appropriate contacts within a company. Professional social media sites provide a wealth of information on organizations.  First, many people are connected to their colleagues.  By taking a closer look at the profiles of your clients and prospects, you may be able to fill in some of the blanks regarding decision makers within a company.

Company profiles also offer intelligence on key individuals within organizations.  These can help you identify the appropriate contact within a company, especially if your initial contact has left and you are having trouble getting in touch with anyone beyond the receptionist. 

4.  Gain new work-related insight. Groups, message boards and other social media sites are an excellent way to discuss relevant industry topics with likeminded professionals in group settings.  At its core, social media is a conversation, so identify groups that are relevant to your industry and expertise and participating in the discussion.

By joining a group or getting involved in other social media sites, you have the opportunity to learn from other professionals within your industry, contribute to discussions on topics that fit well within your area of expertise, and differentiate yourself and your company as a consultant and a thought leader. 

Consider focusing your efforts on making thoughtful contributions to the most relevant topics – you do not need to respond to every discussion within a group.  Ensure that your comments are adding value and presenting your company in a positive manner.

5.  Remember the basics of social media. While participating in social media can be beneficial to sales professionals, it is important to respect it as a communications platform.  Don’t abuse it as a way to push a sales pitch.   Remember that social media is a two-way conversation, and ensure that your actions are providing value.

6.  Offer guidelines for effective use. Sales and marketing management should consider holding training sessions or developing guidelines on how to effectively use social media as a sales tool.  In addition to providing guidelines on how to create accounts on relevant social media sites, you can offer examples of demonstrated best practices for utilizing social media resources for professional use.  It would also be valuable to emphasize the importance of spending the right balance of time on it, and demonstrating how it can be a powerful tool in the sales process. 

For businesses, social media offers an unprecedented opportunity to engage in conversations with their audiences – both customers and prospects.   Take advantage of social media tools to foster positive relationships with your clients and prospects, and to support your overall business goals.

Article by Angela Hribar

Girl Scouts Gone Viral

It’s likely that Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low would approve of her organization’s recent plunge into viral marketing. After all, Low used the then-newfangled telephone almost a century ago to declare her intention to start the Girl Scouts to a friend.

Like technology, cookie sales have been part of the organization since its early years. It’s a lucrative tradition: The cookies, including Thin Mints and Samoas, bring in $700 million in sales a year.

But cookie sales slipped about 1% last year, prompting the organization to look for new ways to get its message across to potential cookie buyers.

The result? The Girl Scouts posted a video on YouTube called “What can a cookie do?,” which has attracted about 24,000 hits since it was posted Jan. 19.

“We’re anxious to see how it works because it lets us get our message out in a cost-effective way,” Laurel Richie, chief marketing officer of the Girl Scouts of the USA, says. She also hopes the video will help engender trust among those viewing the ad. “There’s a greater engagement when a video is passed onto you, because it has the implicit endorsement of the person who passes it on,” Richie says.

The video focuses the connection between cookie purchases and how the girls use the funds to help their communities, learn business skills and build self-confidence. Its point: “Every cookie has a mission: to help girls do great things.”

While the video aims to get viewers to understand the philosophy behind cookie sales, it also directs viewers to a website where they can find a place to buy the treats.

Going Viral Is Good For Business

The goal of any business owner interested in creating a successful viral marketing campaigns is to identify individuals or outlets with high Social Networking Potential (read “How Ford Got Social Marketing Right“) and create viral messages that appeal to this segment of the population.

Notable examples of viral marketing are “Ponzi schemes”, “Pyramid schemes” and multi-level marketing (MLM).  Today, they have been replaced by the likes of The Big Word Project, Will it Blend and The Mike O’Meara Show.

At the height of B2C (Business to Consumer) it seemed as if every startup had a viral component to its strategy, or at least claimed to have one. However, relatively few marketing viruses achieve success on a scale similar to Hotmail, widely cited as the first example of modern-day viral marketing.

Viral Marketing Defined

According to Wikipedia, viral marketing refers to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or even text messages.

Elements of Viral Marketing

A viral message has the ability to be forwarded on the Internet. An effective viral marketing strategy:

  • Give away products or services
  • Provides for effortless transfer to others
  • Scales easily from small to large
  • Exploits common motivations and behaviors
  • Utilizes existing communication networks
  • Takes advantage of others’ resources

YouTube is a great example of viral marketing. Due to a combination of elements (from timelines to inherent humor to the manner in which the clip is distributed), certain video clips on YouTube end up as “Viral Videos.” The name is an allusion to the manner in which diseases spread–these videos, like a new strain of flu virus, start out being shared among a few people. But, also like the same flu virus, as each person who has been exposed to the video continues to pass a link to it along, the videos rack up view counts and end up viral-like phenomena.

Here are 34 ways to use YouTube (and other video hosting services) for business.

Different methods of Viral Marketing

E-mail: One of the easiest and simplest methods is email. It can be in the form of articles or advertisements which are sent to a large number of people based on your mailing list and if it results in forwarding the mail to other friends or known persons then viral marketing occurs.

Web forms: Various forms are available on the web and if your click on them, you are asked to fill in certain details that might include e-mail addresses. You are prompted to send something to your friend and if you willingly pass it to others, it is viral marketing.

Blogs: An effective viral marketing can be done through blogs. The links or information contained on a blog can often be copied to some other blogs and this increases the reach. With numerous blogs published on the Internet, you can expand exponentially.

Forums and Messages: Sending links through different messages or forums can be considered to be another type of viral marketing. A link that is present in a forum or chat room can often lead to greater links to your website than you might even expect.

Bookmarking: Allowing an easy process to your audience so that they can bookmark your website, can lead to expanding your network. If a visitor bookmarks your website, the potential of viral marketing gets enhanced.