Last year I spoke with Lucie Hys, a real social media expert working in the hotel industry. Lucie is very passionate about what she does, and I have been a fan of her blog for a long while, so it was a real privilage that she agreed to talk to Hotel Insight. You can see the interview here:
I am a hotel marketer, social media nut, and a passionate blogger.
I work as a Social Media Specialist for a marketing agency called Travel Spike, that specializes in travel. My main role is to come up with a social media strategy that would bring my clients at the forefront of competitors on social media channels. I watch the current social media trends, track and analyze the campaigns’ results, run social media contests, research applications, organize tweetups. I also manage day-to-day operations, which means that I post updates to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms on behalf of my clients. As for blogging, I started my blog couple months back to share my knowledge about social media and travel. In my articles, I for example advise hotels on which social media mistakes they should avoid, how to find luxury consumers on social media, or how to correctly use Twitter and Facebook (to name a few).
Q You’re something of an expert in social media – how did you get into this field?
Interest, luck, and little bit of brains 🙂 Seriously, when I got my Business degree, I was thinking about a field that I would enjoy and where the competition was limited (I can’t deny my practical side). I’ve always enjoyed marketing, but traditional marketing is known to be a field full of people with tens of years of experience. Social media marketing, on the other hand, was just evolving, so there were very few people who could call themselves “experienced”. I applied on-line for the position of social media coordinator and got it. Ever since, I’ve been breathing social media night and day.
Q Which tools do you currently use for both work and personally?
That would be a really long list, but my favourite ones are definitely Hootsuite and Tweetdeck for overall management, link tracking, and scheduling; Listorious, Twellow, and WeFollow for finding important Twitter users; Revinate & Twitalyzer for analytics; Editgrid and BaseCamp for online collaboration.
Q Social media has been a hot topic in hotel marketing for the last few years. Some hotels are using Twitter, Facebook, blogging etc very well – others have started but failed very quickly. What would you say the key principles are to succeed in using social media effectively?
#1: Socialize. Engage. Interact. Respond. Many hotels use social media as a one-way marketing channel, pushing their special offers and copying their websites and marketing materials. However, social media is not a one-way street; it is about having a conversation, engaging. Do polls, ask questions, run contests, respond.
#2: Provide value. When people think you provide value, they are more likely to trust you, be loyal to you, and engage with you. In social media world, it means that you publish the content that the consumers find interesting and/or helpful (the local events, exclusive deals & events, behind-the-scenes pictures and videos to name a few).
#3: Have a professional in charge. Many hotels do not realize the importance and power of social media marketing, so they consequently devote little budget and effort to it. It is common for hotels to put interns with little or no experience in charge or make social media marketing 100th task on the priority list for current marketing personnel who many times don’t know anything about social media. However, it is important to realize 2 things. First, your social media accounts represent your brand in a same way your website does. Most consumers today will look at your Facebook, Twitter etc. to form an opinion about your company. Second, people are spending more time on Facebook than they do on Google or your website by that matter. For these and many more reasons, it is extremely important for a brand to create a professional presence on social media, which cannot be done without a social media professional on board.
Q Would you encourage hotels to start using social media if they are considering it? What should their first steps be?
100% yes. Benefits of social media marketing are numerous, but let’s at least touch on the most important ones. Unlike other marketing channels, social media can help you connect with your existing and potential customers first hand, which is a huge opportunity no company (not only hotels) should miss out on. Other very important benefits include significant increase in sales, website traffic, and customer loyalty. Recent study showed that two-thirds (67%) of consumers who follow brands on Twitter are more likely to buy those brands after becoming a follower, and 51% of Facebook fans are more likely to buy after becoming a fan (http://bit.ly/btKJEO). Social media is all about word-of-mouth marketing, which is one of the most effective and cheapest ways of marketing.
First step is definitely devising a social media strategy. Realize what market segment you want to target over social media and what you’re trying to achieve. Then think about the ways of reaching the goal. As mentioned in the previous question, hire an experienced social media marketer to oversee your social media efforts. If your budget is restricted, think about hiring a consultant or contractor instead of a full-time employee or marketing agency.
Q Twitter has become a very interesting tool for hotels – they can publicise their property, receive feedback and communicate with customers in a very new way. How do you recommend them to use this tool?
Twitter is slightly harder to learn than Facebook, so many marketers get discouraged and unfortunately use Twitter way less than Facebook. I say unfortunately, because Twitter has some very distinctive, important advantages that Facebook doesn’t (you can find more on this topic in my article: http://bit.ly/9d7doN).
Regarding the use, the most important principle is again to ”socialize”. Talk to others, comment on other people’s tweets, retweet, respond, FOLLOW others. Add value. Don’t spam others by sending promotional direct messages or tagging irrelevant users. One more note on following others. It is VERY important to follow new people, because it lets people know that you exist on Twitter. However, be wary that Twitter is not fond of mass following, so only follow maximum of about 100 people per day so that you do not get your account blocked.
Q How do you see social media evolving in marketing terms for companies in the future?
I would say the next step for the companies in terms of social media marketing would be making their websites more “social”. The websites have so far not been very interactive in nature but this is rapidly changing as social plug-ins and new applications gain in popularity. Certainly new social media platforms will appear and the existing ones will change their features. I think we will also see much more of location-based marketing in the future, as long as the privacy concerns are addressed.
Thanks to Lucie for sharing her thoughts with us, I am sure you’ll agree there are some great ideas here. Do check out her blog by clicking here. Today, Lucie posted a fantastic piece “5 things all hoteliers should know about social media“. Well worth a read.