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Generating inbound leads through Social media is key for your business and brand. Most hotels and restaurants these days do it, but not half as many do it properly.  Social media can not only be used to promote what your business has to offer, but it can also be used to promote what others think of your business and entice others to pay you a visit. Sound simple? You would think.

Not using social media to its full potential is equivalent to setting up your business in a busy high-street, with the blinds down and the open sign switched off. There are an awful lot of people walking past your business, a lot of them would be potentially interested in what you’re selling but unfortunately, they don’t quite know who you are, what you are selling or if you’re even open.

By using social media effectively you can almost guarantee an increase in business and an increase in revenue. Follow these simple tips below to help drive business to your door. If you fear you don’t have the time to concentrate on social media or you really don’t know where to start – give us a call!

1 – Decide which social media platform best suites your lifestyle.

If there’s one thing worse than not using social media, it’s using social media infrequently. 

Think of it like broadcasting a radio show, at the start your listener numbers are low but as your airtime increases, you begin to acquire significantly more listeners. Then, just as you have a captive audience waiting on your every word, you stop. Before too long your listeners will begin to tune out of your station and listen to someone else’s, and before you know it you’re back to square one.

2 – Don’t just choose the platform which is right for you; choose the platform which is right for your customers.

To put this bluntly, there’s no point in setting up a Snap Chat account for your hotel if the majority of your customers are retired 60-75 year olds. Think about your market segment and where they “hang out” - go where your customers already are, reducing the effort in them finding you.  Also, think about the type of content you intend to publish – for example: images of your beautiful Master Suites may be received far better on Pinterest than Twitter.

3 – Think about what attracts customers to your business, then replicate this online.

How often has someone made a special effort to visit your hotel, walk through the doors and congratulate you on turning over an extra £100k this year? Chances are, never. How often has someone booked a room with you on the basis you’ve just employed a new Reception Manager? I doubt it. 

The main goal for having any form of online presence is to drive customers and make sales. Think about the main reasons customers become customers and then share content which support these reasons. For example, if you’re offering 15% off bookings, share this online. If you’ve just renovated the Honeymoon Suite, share this online. If you’ve just been featured in the “Top 100 Hotels in the UK”, you guessed it, share this online!  Fluffy kittens and comical memes do generate a smile, but this is all they do.

4 – Don’t be scared of a little interaction.

Like most marketing, social media is a two way street made up of quality conversations and engaging topics. Imagine you’re at a wedding, nobody wants to engage in a conversation with the guy who does nothing but talk of himself and his accomplishments. On the other hand, the guy who shares nothing of himself, but instead just listens to your stories can become boring. Try to be the person who starts a good conversation, shares an opinion, asks for an opinion and allows others to share their similar experiences of the chosen topic.

From time to time we all make mistakes. When on social media, try to be transparent and authentic with all communications. You may be able to lie and get away with it face to face, but should you lie on social media, you may as well be lying to every single customer and potential customer you may ever have. The thing with Twitter is if you delete a negative tweet, the conversation will still continue, so it’s better to apologies than to ignore.

One extreme example - After President Obama mentioned his grandmother during the first presidential debate in October, 2012, a kitchen appliance manufacturer responded by posting the following tweet to its 24,000 followers: "Obamas gma [grandma] even knew it was going 2 b bad! She died 3 days b4 he became president. #nbcpo    

Their apology was – 

Hopefully you will never publish such a tweet to this degree (to such a person), but should you do it’s always best to be transparent and apologie for your mistakes – After all, we’re only human.

Remember, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but you can please some of the people some of the time.  Whatever you do, you’re bound to upset someone at some point, chances are they are just “trolls” looking to pick a fight with a brand, but if they are, just respond in the way you would respond if your Grandmother was watching – in other words, calm, collected and non-confrontational.

Don’t just ignore the comment, if anything, use this as an opportunity to practice your customer service skills in public - For example, if someone wrote to you saying “Your hotel was complete rubbish, your bed was hard and my view was terrible” a possible response could be, “Thank you for your feedback, we are always working to improve the service we deliver to our customers and would be interested in discussing your feedback further – Please email Support@[YOURHOTEL].COM”.  

If they are “trolls” [Source:Urban Dictionary - One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument] the chances are they will not follow through with your request – but if they are genuine unhappy customers, you’re about to engage in a conversation which could potentially improve your business.

5 – Business is out there, just listen for it.

My final point reminds me of an interesting book I once read by one of my favourite authors, David Kerpen. He starts by explaining how a trip to Las Vegas became sour when he was rudely told to wait in the hotel reception for a lengthy amount time before he could check into his room. Like any social-savvy person he took to Twitter to express his frustration for being made to wait, but unlike a social-savvy business, the hotel chose to ignore his tweet.  Instead, a hotel a little way down the road responded to him – not with the hard sell “Come and stay with us”, but instead tweeted something along the lines of “Sorry to hear you’re having a bad time, we hope you enjoy the rest of your stay in Las Vegas”.

This tweet stuck in Kerpen’s mind, so much so the next time he was in Las Vegas, he chose to stay with the hotel that tweeted him back. He also went on to recommend a large number of friends and family who were also staying in Las Vegas – in other words, one tweet by the hotel down the road generated thousands of Dollars worth of revenue.

You may not be a multi-million pound, $800 a night Las Vegas hotel, but the principle still applies to us all.  If we can listen for people expressing opinions relating to our business, highlighting a need we could fulfil or commenting on a topic relating to our industry, by taking 2 seconds to join the conversation we could potentially open ourselves up to a mass of new business. Remember, sales doesn’t always have to be salesy!

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