Essential Hotel Social Media Marketing Ideas

Even with a small team, running the social media account for a boutique hotel can be a collaborative effort. It’s critically important that this endeavor is guided by a common set of hotel social media marketing ideas.

Optimizing your efforts is critically important. To make the best use of this vital marketing tool, your hotel social media campaigns should follow a clear strategy and set of guiding principles. In particular, it’s important to have a true sense of your brand’s style, express it through a consistent voice and be careful to maintain a high quality of content. You should also know how to adapt your message to different social media networks and strongly consider paid social media tools to reach the audience you want.

With this post, I’ll cover these hotel social media marketing ideas in some detail and walk you through examples to illustrate the critical points.

Find Your Style for Your Hotel’s Social Media Marketing

The monolithic hotel chains are selling a room-for-a-rate and throwing in a few amenities around the edges. As a boutique operator, you know that connecting with guests on an emotional level is your critical advantage. Find a way to help them have a memorable experience, and they’ll become evangelists for your business.

Sometimes an emotional connection can be established through an explicit gesture that is consciously received — handwritten notes and a small gift waiting for guests when they check in. More often, it’s subtle and subconscious — guests are on vacation (that always helps) in a place that just feels right. Little details like the art on the wall, out-of-the-ordinary room layouts or options in the mini-bar make sense because they complement your guest’s individual style.

Spring begins… #MercerSoHo Time to open these French doors

A post shared by Hotel (The Mercer) (@mercerhotelnyc) on

New York’s Mercer Hotel has figured out its SoHo style.

As an established boutique hotel, you’ve considered your brand’s personality, tone of voice, and culture. When planning or fine-tuning your hotel’s social media marketing ideas it’s essential to keep these top of mind.

Express That Style with a Voice

One of the most important hotel social media marketing ideas is that this type of connection with guests on a visceral, gut level should start before they book with you.

Easy enough, right? Well, the issue is that maintaining a voice is an every-post commitment, especially on Instagram. Depending on the medium, a potential follower is going to be able to easily see at least your nine most-recent photos and just one that stands out negatively can put them off following your hotel and cost you the opportunity to establish a long-term relationship.

Jade Mountain St. Lucia uses this Facebook post to express the idea that they offer luxury at the edge of tropical nature. Throughout their posts they set a style that is bright and colorful.

Type of Posts to Watch For:

Sticking to a voice can often mean doing what “feels right” but there are some red flags to watch out for:

  • Some self-promotion is fine, but if your post doesn’t focus on a benefit to the customer, it’s easy to take it too far.
  • Apply the same filter when cross-promoting community partners. Your Facebook followers would love to be introduced to the sheep farmer whose flock is integral to your restaurant’s cheese, because that is part of a memorable guest experience, especially if agri-tourism is part of your identity. They’re much less interested in finding out about the good work your graphic designer did on your business cards.
  • Distinguish between your personal and business voice. They will sometimes overlap, and social media done properly does depend on businesses injecting some human personality into their activities, but there is a line.

Remember, also, that every follower won’t see every post and you’ll notice repetition more sharply than they will. It’s easy for brand decision makers to forget that they see their own posts much differently (usually all at once when checking up on their page or stream) than their followers do (usually one at a time interspersed in their feed.)

Always choose an on-brand message that overlaps with a previous post instead of an off-brand one because you feel you need to break new ground.

If you like piña coladas… ?: @myseastory

A photo posted by The Raleigh Miami Beach (@theraleighhotel) on

The Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach posts poolside photos to Instagram quite regularly, and relaxation by their pool is a core part of their brand identity.

Use Only the Top 20% of Your Content Ideas, Trash the Other 80%

Businesses are held to a higher standard of quality on social media than individuals are. Your hotel doesn’t have baby photos for relatives to gush over, no one used to date your hotel and wants to keep tabs on what you’re up to, and none of your followers have signed on to stay on top of your weekend antics. The business-to-customer relationship is not why people sign up for social media accounts, but it can work.

The three things to focus on when making this call are quality, shared values and utility for the customer.

Elements of the Top 20% Rule

In more detail those mean:

  1. Quality: Is this photo we’re planning to post better than 80% of what’s on Instagram? Is it well-lit and does the composition make sense? Are we featuring something that is truly exceptional?
  2. Shared values: Does the content of the post match with the reasons we’ve asked our followers to join our tribe and spend their time and money with us? For instance, a luxury golf course might have just finished construction and opened nearby, but if your boutique hotel has a strong environmental mission and your guests tend to be interested in activities like yoga and meditation, the golf course news probably isn’t appropriate for your hotel’s social media feeds. True, some of your guests might be interested in a round of golf, but you should apply the 20% rule here and be sure that whatever you share is at the top of their list.
  3. Utility: What’s in it for me? You’ve just installed smart thermostats in guest rooms? Great, but make sure you share the news in a way that makes it clear why I should care. You’d love for me to sign up for your email newsletter or follow your Facebook page? Okay, but I’m going to need a better reason than “so we can stay in touch” and the incentive (this might be a contest prize, but it could also be useful content that helps me solve a problem) needs to beat the other 80% to work.

The Top 20% Rule in Action

Not everyone does it perfectly, but several boutique hotels have mastered the social media marketing idea behind the 20% rule.

La tradizione piemontese rivisitata dal nostro pasticcere: Sfera di bonet.⠀ #VillaCrespiExperience #relaisetchateaux

A photo posted by Relais Chateaux Villa Crespi (@villacrespi) on

For this photo on Instagram, Villa Crespi has used a professional-looking photo of a particularly attractive dessert.

It’s obvious from the engagement — they have a large, engaged following but 2,000 likes is well above average — that this post received the desired result.

Follow the Rules of the Particular Road You’re On

When putting together a hotel social media strategy, it might make sense for you to be on a few social media networks. In some cases, you’ll be able to repurpose ideas across different networks, but in many cases, it won’t be appropriate to send the same message more than once.

What Makes Social Networks Different?

There are a few individuals quirks that are important to keep in mind when planning your hotel social media marketing ideas for separate networks.

  • Instagram: Obviously, visual messages are essential here. But so is a laser-sharp focus on quality. Instagram’s new (as of mid-2016) algorithm means that if engagement (likes and comments) drops on your photos, the ones you post in the future may be shown to fewer of your followers. Doing things like promoting a new blog post, announcing a contest winner, or giving a local weather report are only very rarely appropriate fodder for Instagram, even though they might work on other networks. In all cases, the first and last questions should be “do we have a really great photo to deliver this message?”
  • Facebook: In line with Instagram, quality is also important on Facebook for similar reasons — if your posts attract relatively few likes, comments and shares, ones in the future will be shown to a declining portion of your followers. There is, though, a bit more latitude for humor, self-promotion and a variety of content on Facebook.
  • Twitter: Fast and to the point are the watch words for Twitter. The 140-character limit is an important factor in planning for this network, but there are strong tools (like images with text) that can work to tell a longer story. Also, Twitter streams are busy places so don’t be as concerned about repeating messages on Twitter as on other networks. Unlike Instagram, Twitter is the ideal place to promote your hotel blogging efforts.

A Twitter post from Cowley Manor in England, promoting their special Christmas event.

This is one of over a dozen Tweets that Cowley Manor posted about the same event — all connected with the #AVeryCowleyChristmas hashtag. That type of volume would have been out of place on Facebook and definitely on Instagram but can work well on Twitter.

Social Isn’t Free (Any More)

Gone are the halcyon days of 2005 – 2010 when all social media marketing needed was the commitment to sign up and stick with it for a few months to build a following. (And, honestly, the writing was on the wall back in ’05 when Apple was already one of Facebook’s biggest advertisers.)

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all in the business of attracting attention. And they do a frighteningly good job of getting us to give them our time.

Equally, companies who signed up for social media accounts and built a following by posting content and interacting (usually called organic social media marketing) came to see the value of being able to connect with past and potential customers. More companies signed up (for Facebook and Twitter in particular), and that meant an exponentially growing number of posts.

For a short while quality of organic social was the way to stand out, but in their interest of maximizing revenue, social media networks have now introduced a range of paid options.

Paid Social Media Marketing Ideas

There are a few specific hotel social media marketing ideas that are worth considering even though they cost money to implement.

  • Facebook offers the widest variety of campaigns and the most refined tools for tailoring them to reach a specific audience. A Page Likes campaign, set up to build your hotel’s follower count, is a popular first place to start.
  • Instagram is a great place to advertise a special promotion related to a one-time event. Even though it has a robust suite of tools (tied to Facebook’s) for targetting an audience, this is still an under-exploited idea.
  • A followers campaign on Twitter can be a good way to quickly build an audience in weeks or months instead of a year or more.

That is by no means an exhaustive list and as part of the process to develop a hotel social media campaign that works for your business, we’re happy to walk you through all of the options of a paid social media marketing campaign.

Implementing Hotel Social Media Marketing Ideas

Understanding the core hotel social media marketing ideas is an important first step for realizing a successful implementation. When planning and executing your hotel’s organic social media marketing it’s important to:

  1. Keep your hotel’s style at the forefront,
  2. Express it with a consistent voice,
  3. Only use an idea or piece of content if it’s clearly in the top 20%, and
  4. Tailor your message to a particular social network.

On top of your hotel’s organic activity, the fifth idea to consider is how paid social media marketing can play a role in achieving your goals.

We hope this has been a helpful resource in organizing and implementing social media marketing ideas at your hotel.

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