If Your Going it alone don't overwhelm yourself
Businesses are finally realizing that they need a great social media presence in order to keep generating new sales and to retain their current customers. How to do a social media plan is sometimes where most are confused or getting frustrated. We see most businesses just mainly promoting on their social media platforms, and or doing too many that they are so overwhelmed that they forget to keep one platform up to date which in turns can hurt their online image.
Now what you should do if you didn't get it done right in 2014 with social media is start over. I'm not saying starting over from scratch, but start over with 2015 being the year that your going to make this work for your business, and start telling your story online through social media. Follow these steps and you will be well on your way.
1. One Platform At A Time- If you are the business owner and you are the only one handling your social media you need to start one platform at at time to get the best optimization for your online presence. We strongly recommend that you start out with Facebook since it has the most active users. Don't worry we will continue to post new content on Social Media for the other platforms in the near future.
2. Proper Page on Facebook -Were going to assume you already have a business or fan page set up for your business on Facebook and not just using a regular friend profile. If you are using just a regular fan profile then you need to set up a business one asap, as Facebook will be taking businesses that are not using the proper format and closing those profiles out. If you don't know how to set up a business or fan page for your shop, store, or services keep watching our blog as we will post a video on how to get this done soon.
3. Look at your short description and long description. The short description you will want to tell people what your business is about in 150 characters. Make sure you enter your city and state in there so you will come up in local Facebook graph searches as your page builds popularity. Your long description you want to make sure you include location again and more on what your services and business will do for people in the first paragraph and then build on your key words in the 2nd paragraph and so on. Make sure you use up as most of this space as you possibly can. Tell people why you created this business just as much as what your business can do for them.
4. Hours Of Operation and Contact Information- Make sure you put your main website first in your description and make sure you put a phone number, and the hours that you operate your business in the proper fields. You don't want potential customers to visit your Facebook page and have no way of contacting you or finding you. Your main object is to make that sale right? They cant buy if they cant contact you.
5. Make a welcome/introduction video- Make a short video that introduces you, and describes your business. 30 seconds is enough, as you don't want to loose anybody during your video. Post this TO JUST YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE. You want this video to be watched on Facebook and through their system, as you will get more people on Facebook viewing this and if your video becomes popular so will your page. Make this your first post for 2015 or if you have already posted, just pretend like this is your first one.
6. Pictures of Staff- If you have employees take a really good face shot of them, and get a short bio on their interests, and what they do for your company and post one a week. So if you have 3 employees one day a week your going to post an employee picture with their bio and position with your company.
7. Pictures Pictures Pictures- What are you selling? What is your service? Can you show people in a picture? Posts with pictures have seemed to get the most views on Facebook then those posts that are just words.
8. What can you offer- Are there questions out there in the general public that fits your niche? If so think of one or two a week and answer them on Facebook. People will start noticing that your the go to person in your business, and your page will get more likes and build popularity.
9. Post Regularly But Not Too Much- A good rule of thumb when your using social media for marketing your business, is especially with Facebook you don't want to post too much, as people will start un liking your page because your clogging up their news feed. We strongly recommend that a business posts at least 3 - 7 Posts a week. This could be one post a day or one post every two days. This will keep your page looking active, and more people will want to read your message.
So go ahead and get started on this, and in the very near future we will write about other platforms, and how you can utilize them to get more out of Social media marketing for your business.
If you feel that you don't have time for social media but you want to have a social media presence for your services, you can always outsource to us at the fraction of the cost it would be to hire a part time employee or intern. Email our Senior Marketing consultant today firstname.lastname@example.org Our services are very affordable for small businesses, and we only use the proper techniques that search engines like, and no tricks. This will insure that your online presence shows up in searches, and don't get penalized by Google.
Old School Sales and Marketing Still Has It's Place
Why 86% of travelers book their hotels online, that leaves 14% that don't. When your talking about millions of travelers that's still a large number. Hotels that incorporate a good digital campaign but also has a sales staff to work on direct sales activities perform higher then those that just rely on their online booking channels.
The following if done along with digital marketing will help increase your occupancy, and revenues for 2015. You need to keep in mind there are still people out there that don't care for Facebook, don't know how to tweet, and still prefer phone calls and face to face interaction. Make sure you incorporate these things in your marketing plan if you already haven't.
1. Travel Agents- Why this seems to be a dying breed, they are still used today, and have regained some of their market share. When people call travel agents they are usually booking flight, hotel and rental cars at the same time. The ease of using a professional travel agent makes things more convenient even for baby boomers, who are the largest spenders in hotels. Do a quarterly mailing to the top 50 travel agents that are producing for your property. Make sure they are updated on any amenity changes, upgrades, services, and events going on in your area. During your shoulder and slow season offer them double commissions for stays that happen during these times. You will see a 5% to 10% increase in business from them over time after you start this.
2. News Papers- Scouring your local news paper and business journal for your area can have a load of leads in them if you are paying attention. People getting promoted, married, or even dying are leads for your hotel. The person at their job getting promoted could be the person that handles the spending for lodging or works closely to the person that makes those decisions. Send them a congratulations letter in the mail, and maybe even offer them a free night (Make sure this company does use hotels in the area before giving them a free night). Engagements announcements you can contact the couple by looking them up on Google, and ask them if they need a hotel for their big day for out of town guests. Funerals are never something that people budget for as far as going to them. So if your property offers a bereavement rate, you need to make sure all the funeral homes in your area have this information. Ask them to recommend, leave your items in lobby, and even ask if you could be linked on their website. Build a relationship with these businesses. Local Events can sometimes be announced in your local news paper and could be something you didn't even know about that could be bringing a large number of rooms to your area. Haven't you been sitting there and fill up all of a sudden, and wonder what was going on in your area? We have all been there, but if we know about it sooner, we can use good revenue management practices and get more revenue.
3. Business To Business Sales Calls- Getting yourself or your sales team out talking to area local businesses is still a great way to increase your hotels occupancy. Why most hotels are being completely ran my the general manager and no sales team, your general manager can make time to make at least 10 sales calls a week. Getting in front of the businesses that can use your hotel or recommend people to stay at your hotel is still a number 1 way to increase your corporate travel. Remember most hotels are stopping this, or the sales team is too young and not completely trained on this good ole technique. So you will get great results by implementing this into your property's marketing plan. Send one of your best front desk agents if you don't have time to do this. Send them out with business cards, rack cards or brochures on your property so they can hand these out to the decision makers.
4.Construction Business- Face it the economy in most places are doing really good, and when this happens growth happens. There are probably plenty of construction projects slated for your area in 2015 and could be going on right now. These types of projects bring in people from out of town. I don't care where you live and if the General contractor says they are all local. Most of the time when our economy booms like this, construction companies can be short handed and will sub contract some of the work out to out of town companies. So have your sales staff, GM, or Front desk agent take some flyers with your information and special rate for construction along with a couple dozen of donuts to the site and talk to the foreman. Believe it or not the donuts will be the key to the foreman keeping and handing out your information, instead of throwing it in the trash.
Start working on these four items now, and make a hit list on what businesses to call on, who is going to read the daily paper every day for leads, and who is going to go out and make these sales calls. If you work really hard at both digital marketing, and old school sales practices you will see a great growth in your occupancy, and even rates. If you build a high demand for your property you will be able to raise rates on your transient business.
Keep watching our blog for more ways to increase your hotels occupancy in 2015.
Read our past blog post about Digital Marketing for Hotels in 2015
Online Presence is important now then it ever was
Online presence in order to drive bookings to your hotel is more important then it ever was going into 2015. The majority of hotel reservations are not done online. Its never going to go away and hoteliers must embrace this major culture change. Social Media, Websites, Blogs, OTA's, Review Sites, Bookmarking sites, etc is the nature off the beast to gain your share of online bookings. Online Travel Agency websites such as Hotels.com, Expedia and Priceline are already leading the charge with digital marketing and keeps gaining more share of reservations in the United States hotel market, which is taking money out of your pocket.
Don't get me wrong OTA's have their place in our business but its to fill distressed rooms, it was never intended for them to be our number 1 booking source. Your own website should be doing that. This is why you need to start focusing more on your online and social media presence starting today. Because in order to drive more bookings to your hotel through your own reservations or franchise CRS where it does not cost you as much to get a booking, you need to embrace this and lead the way with it in your area.
Its also far more complex ed then posting a special, or a package. However its not as difficult as many would think. It all really depends on your own knowledge and your staffs knowledge on technically using the various social media platforms to create digital content for your lodge or hotel. Because we are going to tell you the ground work that you need to do, in order to launch or revamp your current digital marketing campaign.
Getting Started On Your Hotels Digital Marketing
First thing you want to do is a refresh of your image. You want to get new pictures of your hotel and have them uploaded on all channels. Guests that make online reservations can visit your website up to 22 times before making a decision to book one of your rooms. So the idea is to make them want to visit less and book with you sooner. They want to see what they are purchasing, and they want to know your story. What does your hotel have to offer that will set you apart from any other hotel in the area.
Tell your story on your social media pages, and if you don't have time to do all of them, focus on Facebook since it has the most active daily users. Do not get caught in the habit of posting about your great rates, and that you offer a clean room. I would sure hope any hotelier reading this has clean rooms. If not get those up to par before you start promoting and selling your property online, because negative online reviews can kill your online presence very fast. Back on subject, you want to paint a picture and take that future guest on a quick tour of your property. Remember social media means social so tell them about your staff, who was promoted, feature your team by posting a picture of a team member each week with a short bio of their interests.
Is your hotel close to a large event center, or a flower shop, funeral home, major businesses, factory's? These are major room occupancy drivers so make sure you include images, and content about them, so when people look at these businesses they will also see that your hotel is nearby.
Local Events in the area that draw large room nights should also be included on your website, and you should also create content around these events, and then let people know your offering them a special for participating in these events by giving them a special rate or a mere 10 percent off. This will help you show up in more searches and gaining your audiences attention.
Don't skimp on the pictures, and make sure the person you designate to do this for you is creating new content at least 5 times a week. This will be a few blog posts, articles to online travel directories, and or posting some great guests experiences on Facebook. A 30 second video of your hotel also is a powerful punch with more people watching video on their mobile devices, you want to make sure you can be found on all platforms, and you want the guests viewing your online presence to be more opt to book with you faster during the decision process.
Keep in mind producing new digital content can be time consuming, and also takes a little bit of time to be indexed and found by the search engines. Its like planting a garden, so you want to get started now, so by the time your busy season rolls around, you are getting more bookings, and even better rates.
Content Is Still King FOr Online Marketing
That's only if you do it the right way. With Google making major changes in their search product, the day of putting a few words on a page and publishing it to the internet are soon to be long gone. Google and other search engines such as Bing have said they want to give people a more enhanced and real search experience. They are cutting out the clutter by penalizing sites that have duplicate content, and domains that have multiple pages that are cookie cut with the same information but maybe written a different way. Did you also know that using guest bloggers could also get your site in trouble with Google?
What many people are so inclined to do is try to fool the search engine with loading up key words, and key word phrases, and the posts really have no real value. We're in a day and age where we want value in anything we do or purchase so why should search be any different? Google wants to make sure that when people search they get the authority sites on the topic they are searching for. There have been some lash back as when they rolled out a Panda update earlier this year, small businesses seen a dramatic decrease in their traffic and online sales. However Google realized that this was wrong and that a site with a lot of traffic doesn't necessarily mean its the authority site for a certain topic and started to really fine tune its algorithm to read how we would to find out if the information is of any value. This all goes back to what we have told people before is that you don't necessarily want to write for search engines, but write for your readers. One of the major ways that Google can tell if a post or a site is an authority is through social media. How many times a site or a blog posts from that site is liked, shared, and on what various platforms. So keeping your readers happy, and engaged will pay off for you in the long run in generating viral traffic to your site, and it will also attract the people that want to buy from you.
Link Building The Right Way Or The Wrong Way
Another bad technique that a lot of people are still using and that is link building. Not all link building is bad, but most techniques that were used last year or a few years ago, are not the proper way to be done now. If you end up doing your link building the wrong way or a way that Google may think your spamming you run a higher risk of getting your site penalized and find out that you will get buried in search or not show up at all.
Link building by comment posting on other blogs don't really give you much of a trigger any more unless you are really giving a valid opinion about the post, and also leaving a comment on a blog that has something to do with your business or niche. What so many people are still doing, and we see it on our blog is that people will leave a short comment like "Good Read" or "Great Article" and then poof they are gone. Search engines are much more smarter then that and when these comments are read, they are tossed to the way side with out giving out a ranking signal. If they find too many then it will automatically start noticing and then your site will be ranked lower because these kind of comments are considered spam. If you want to do this properly read the article and leave a good thought out post about the content and why you liked it. This is also time consuming, but if you read 2 to 5 posts from other people and then leave a real thought provoking comment or a well thought out one, over time these kind of back links will help you in getting organic traffic.
One major thing you do not want to do with link building is pay for back links. Trust me Google will find out, and most of the time the back links you get are to spammy sites which have no true content, but advertising and why they might boost you up in search rankings, once this hits the system you will see that you will back further. Kind of like taking 2 steps forward and getting knocked 3 steps back. Its just not worth it.
If you put a lot of time into your website you definitely don't want all of your hard work to go to waste by taking a short cut. If you don't have time to do this then it might be best for you to hire an online marketing agency to help you with your SEO. Some marketing agencies will have packages of their services to save you money and give you more value by packaging SEO with Social Media services, blogging, website design and anything else that will help keep and grow your website traffic.
If you are interested in getting a quote on SEO services email me at email@example.com for your free quote.
Another form of link building that people heavily used is called guest posting. Getting other people to post their blogs to your website, or vice versa. Google made a big change to this last year in 2014 and we strongly recommend that you do not do it period! Most guest blogging, or article marketing posts are spinned content that someone else wrote. Google realized this and has placed it in one of their many changes last summer and has taken down many sites due to this policy. It was just getting to the point that most guest posts, articles that were on article directory sites were not really new fresh content, but re used content that is already out there just written differently. There are marketing companies out there that still promote this as the best way to get your site up in the searches and it works for a month or two, until their site is crawled and then boom, they either get knocked to the last page, or again the site wont show up at all.
There have been numerous changes from search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo that smaller ones are starting to follow suit as well. So the best thing for you to do, in order to keep your business healthy on the internet is to keep producing fresh, new quality content for your customers and readers. It really is that simple as far as content goes. Why there are other technical things involved in SEO, the main thing will always be great content.