Sharing Compelling Stories on Social Media

travelers-are-craving-fresh-content-their-way-by-dj-vallauriIf customer loyalty is stagnant, perhaps it’s because you’re putting out boring social media content. To be engaging to travelers, hoteliers need to be creative by using compelling stories — not just standard promotions or a rehash of weekly events — when posting on the major social channels. Developing content for each target audience — and in an appropriate format for each platform — is key to being “liked,” and the more people like you, the more likely your guests will be loyal.

While it is important to link website content directly to social media channels, including links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and others, hotel marketers must make certain that each platform is receiving the information — or story — differently because each has its own unique communications style. For example, the narrative you share with Facebook followers shouldn’t just be pushed out to your Twitter followers using an automated widget.  Doing so will clearly communicate to your Twitter followers that you are unauthentic and not worthy of their time and loyalty.  Each social media platform is different and users expect to be communicated to in the context of their social platform.

Think of the social media channels the way you would your personal social circles; when reflecting on a college experience, the stories you share with parents and grandparents are far different than those you share with friends and business associates. You pick and choose which stories are relevant — or how much information you share about the same story and how you deliver it — for each audience, otherwise, you could really end up embarrassed. The same holds true for online marketing.

Here are three key differences between Facebook and Twitter:

  1. Twitter reports that 92% of all activity and engagement with Tweets happens within the first hour of the post being made. Interactions on Facebook, however, can go on for days. This means Twitter users are compelled by real-time conversation, while Facebook followers are compelled by conversations that people get to in their own time.
  2. People make connections on Facebook to keep in touch. Connections on Twitter are more detached, allowing people to follow topics/people/conversations that are relevant or interesting to them.
  3. While content on Facebook is timeless, the information on Twitter is here and now. If you have instant news, Twitter is the place to post it. For content that is less focused on time and more directed towards entertainment, Facebook is a great medium.

There are many more differences between Facebook and Twitter, but the bottom line is that Facebook is more “evergreen” while Twitter focuses on immediate topics and trending conversations. Armed with this information, hotel marketers can customize their messaging accordingly. A happy hour promotion or last-minute deal is a perfect 140-character Tweet, while sharing a compelling story — or even a series of stories — about recent bridal fairs or the upcoming summer honeymoon season is more apropos on Facebook.

Sharing a story visually on YouTube with video content also will quickly convey a hotel’s unique experiences to online visitors, enticing travelers and further driving loyalty. A video embedded on the homepage of the hotel’s website and also uploaded to YouTube and Facebook can be what sets your property apart from other destinations. Video conveys visual and emotional touch points which are present in almost every travel offering, and that is what drives bookings. Video is an ideal way to tell a compelling story. Likewise, pictures too are important in storytelling. Recently Pinterest has outpaced Twitter as a sharing channel. It is the perfect place for hotel marketers to organize images and information into boards for specific categories, such as Weddings, Food, Beverage, Water Sports etc., to make it easier for consumers and meeting planners to find what interests them most and then act upon it.

You hotel’s compelling bridal season story may look something like this:

  • Twitter:  Getting married? See what’s trending in gowns, flowers, food, entertainment, cakes, cocktails and more at our May Bridal Fair!
  • Facebook:  Brides . . . there will be lots of exciting things happening this month at the fabulous XYZ Chicago Hotel! With more than 65 of Chicago’s well-known wedding purveyors and a runway show with gorgeous gowns, bridesmaids’ attire, accessories and entertainment options you won’t want to miss it! Only 20 tickets available for $10 each before Sunday! Order Today by clicking here! (Included in the post are photos of gowns, flowers, food, and cakes.)
  • Pinterest: Post pictures of gowns, flowers, food, cakes, table decor, DJs, specialty cocktails and more, with each image linked to the hotel website or event site.
  • YouTube: Post a video of the same event from the previous year on your hotel’s website, mobile web, Facebook page and YouTube prior and include interviews with excited Brides talking up the experience.

Make certain that when drafting social media content, it is written for your audience, not for you. Marketers will know if content is successful based on the number of likes, comments, shares and clicks you receive. Chances are, if your message was simple, memorable, fun, informative, amusing and inspiring, it will be enjoyable to your customers. The key to great social media marketing is remembering that even though you’re all about promoting your hotel or brand, your customer is not. Use whatever data analytics you have at your disposal to get to know your guests at a micro level, and then use that information to start a relevant, compelling conversation.