Written by Amanda Dennis Wednesday, 13 October 2010 14:51
This summer, social networking site Facebook topped 500 million members. That’s slightly less than the entire population of North America.
According to its own press page, more than 30 billion pieces of content (including web links, blog posts, news stories, and photographs) are shared through the site each month and its members spend roughly 700 billion minutes there. The average Facebook user has 130 friends and is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events. And it’s not just the Y or Z Generations using Facebook. According to a study posted by Pingdom, a significant 61% of its users are over age 35, putting to rest the idea that Facebook is just for the youngest, most tech-savvy generations. Surprisingly, the average Facebook user is 38 years old.
With all of this activity, why are you having such a hard time getting people to “like” your business page? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Your posts are boring. And you’re doing all the talking. Get your customers involved and ensure they feel a part of your hotel community. The dictionary defines community as “a group of people with a common background or with shared interests within society.” Encourage your guests to post comments, pictures and videos of their stay at your hotel. A successful Facebook page listens to and actively engages its customer with organized, quality content and brand new, up-to-date information from not only its administrator but also its followers. How well do you know your customers? Are you asking them what they like, what they need, what they want?
2. You have a GPS in your car so you don’t get lost but you don’t have a social media roadmap. If you don’t have a map, electronic or otherwise, chances are you won’t make it to your destination, especially if it’s in an unfamiliar area. Social media works the same way. No plan and, before you know it, you’re lost. Every marketing plan should have a section dedicated to social media. Here, by outlining your objectives, you can coordinate your marketing efforts and cross-utilize the various social media applications that will work best for each of your targeted market segments. It is essential to know what you plan to do, how you plan to do it and, most important of all, why you are doing it in the first place. All many people know for sure is that they should be participating in social media because everyone else is. This reasoning didn’t work with your mom and it won’t work here.
3. Your promotions are just like everyone else’s. More than 75% of marketers plan on increasing their use of Facebook in 2010, according to the 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. There are more than 3 million active Facebook business pages. How do you get your promotions to stand out from all of the others? Avoid using Facebook simply to post all of the packages you have on your website. That’s generally a Romance package, Bed and Breakfast package, Shopping package (yawn). Give your followers special perks and discounts that they can’t get anywhere else. What about a free upgrade for the first 10 people that redeem the coupon? Take a look at a few of the more successful retail sites for some good ideas. Nationally, Starbucks and Margaritaville are two of my favorites. Locally, Tony’s Market has us all waiting for its Mid-Week Mania sale, only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
4. Guests have no reason to keep you in their primary news feed. Remember Field of Dreams and the whispered message to Kevin Costner, “If you build it, they will come.” They might come once, but will they stick around or make a repeat visit? Take a long, honest look at your business page. Are the posts lively, compelling, unique, timely? There’s nothing more deadly than a dull Facebook page. If you take photos of your followers attending events at your hotel, tag them. Most people have notifications that deploy an alert when they have been tagged in a photo album. Make the most of your page’s tab settings by distributing special offers and coupons or holding contests and sweepstakes (be sure to follow Facebook’s full terms and conditions). The idea of winning something, anything, is a great incentive to keep fans coming back for more, not to mention attracting new fans. Reward your loyal supporters and don’t forget to remind your users to like and share.
5. If you can’t commit, then you must omit. There’s a reason why the bookstores are filled with rows and rows of books about commitment, mainly about why people can’t commit. Your Facebook page is a daily commitment, so if you aren’t ready, don’t go there. According to Social Media Examiner, for most business pages there is a direct correlation between frequency of posts and number of followers. If you strive for one post per day, you’re on track to creating a successful page. Watch the activity on your page and post when your followers are most active, usually between mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Don’t know what to post? Mix it up with observations, tips, travel-related topics, breaking news and, without fail, open-ended questions to inspire observations from your followers.
If you want to be liked, you have to be likeable. Test various approaches to determine what works best with your fan base. Show your personality, be warm and inviting and have fun with your page. It will create that sense of community so essential to social networks.
Amanda Dennis is a sales and marketing consultant who has spent 30 years in the hospitality business. Want to be better liked? She can help you get there. Like her? Show her you care by going to http://www.ajdassoc.com and following her on Facebook and Twitter. Just click on the links.