You don’t need to be a large business to take advantage of the benefits that social media can bring you. Even the smallest bed & breakfasts or holiday cottage owner can reap the rewards of an effective social media strategy. This is because whilst traditional marketing methods can be expensive, social media marketing can be low cost (even free) and give you direct contact with both current and prospective customers. It’s a trade-off though. What you save in pounds you will need to invest in time.
Do Your Homework
Sorry – it’s back to school for a while, as behind every successful social media campaign is a great strategy.
Social media is all about connecting with your audience on an authentic level. To do that, you have to thoroughly understand your current and potential customers.
We recommend you start by defining your audience. What makes them visit you – a particular local attraction, beautiful walks, dogs welcome, wonderful family holidays. Don’t just say it out loud. Write down the details and find images that represent your target audience.
The next step is to formalise your message. Consider your defined target audience and decide on the key points you would like to tell them about your property and area.
You should then write down three key marketing messages you want to communicate to that audience.
Now that you’ve defined your audience and the message you want to deliver you now need to find out which social networks they prefer.
Social media channels are not created equal. Each one has a different primary audience and it’s important to understand the differences so your efforts are spent on the right channels. However, if you are just starting out, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram are three of the largest and most popular social media platforms and therefore are a must for any one.
Coordinate Your Social Channels
Don’t treat each social media platform as a stand-alone effort. If you do your success will be limited and you’ll feel as if you are constantly chasing your tail. Instead your networks should work together to help you achieve more bookings and efficient customer service.
Consider your website as your business base. Always coordinate your social media efforts to push people to your website where they can see your accommodation in a way that is controlled by you. Take a look at your website and ask yourself if it represents your image correctly.
Get a blog added to your website to establish your business’s voice and share information. It’s also a valuable opportunity to engage with your site visitors. (Don’t start an external blog – you want on that is part of your own website so that it benefits you – as Google and other search engines love fresh content, and the larger your site gets, the better. A blog is a great way to achieve this.
Integrate Social Media & Make Sharing Easy
You can optimise your website and blog for social media by adding a few easy elements to your design.
If you want visitors to follow your various social profiles, make sure you display social icons prominently in your header or sidebar, like these shown on Woodhead Cottage’s website. They should link directly to your profiles so your readers can follow you immediately.
Always include a call to action at the end of your blog posts asking readers to like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter (or whichever platforms you’ve decided are best for your audience).
Make sure you Integrate live social media feeds. This allows website visitors to see your recent activity and when your audience can see what you’re sharing, they are more likely to follow you.
Include social sharing buttons on your pages and posts to ensure that your content is easy for people to share.
Start An Email Newsletter
For those of you that haven’t already started an email newsletter, I would strongly recommend you start one up. They’re an important way to stay in front of current and prospective guests. What’s more, many of your site visitors that may have come and stayed with you via the likes of Booking.com, Latelettings.com can be encouraged to sign up and in the future will not need to book up through those channels – saving you £££’s in commission.
It’s important that your newsletter’s design displays social icons prominently and include a call to action inviting your audience to join your social media communities.
Continue to personalize your brand by always welcoming new followers and thanking them for sharing your content or offering a compliment.
Now that you’ve defined your target audience, you’ve worked out where to reach them and you’ve optimised your website and/or blog. It’s time to start getting social.
But before you do that we have one last important piece of advice – KEEP IT SMALL! Social media takes time and energy, which as busy accommodation owners I know will be in short supply. Therefore set yourself up for success by starting with a manageable load. We suggest you choose one or two platforms to start with and no more than 3. You will need to incorporate social media into your daily routine so put aside an hour a day to manage your accounts.
Remember Social Media success isn’t about chance, it’s about tactics and strategy.