This is the second mini-guide in our ‘Top Tips’ for specific industries series. You can find our first guide for spas here…
Social media marketing is an important part of any businesses’ online success. For hostels, social media can help to create a youthful and fun identity – important in an industry where your customers are typically aged between 18 – 35.
Just looking at Facebook alone, with 562 million users logging in daily, uploading 250 million photos and 2.7 billion ‘Likes’ every single day – it becomes clear that there is a huge potential for brands to tap into this community to enhance sales.
In this mini-guide for hostels, we’ll provide real, practical advice to help you ramp up your social media marketing activity to deliver real business benefits, such as increased traffic to your company website, increased sales, increased brand awareness and exposure, and improved SEO.
Why listen to us? Our social media marketing team manage Generator Hostels’ social media activity, and have achieved outstanding results over the past 6 months.
The 3 key areas we’ll focus are:
- Social media on your website
- Social media campaigns
- Social media channel management
Social media on your website
Why it’s important?
To fully leverage the power of social media, it’s imperative that your website and social media platforms work together seamlessly to promote your hostel and maximise your online exposure.
Furthermore, one of the greatest benefits of incorporating social media on your own website is that it greatly improves SEO.
Social media plays a big part in helping search engines to determine what content is valuable and important. Both Bing and Google confirmed last year that search results are positively affected by social signals such as tweets, likes and +1s, so not only do you need to ensure your website has all the appropriate sharing functionality – you also need to ensure the content on your website is unique, ‘shareable’ and regularly updated.
Quite simply – if you have interesting and relevant, unique content on your website, more people will share it on their social channels, driving additional traffic to your website, and more traffic means greater search results, better rankings and increased sales.
What you can do?
a. Gather reviews
One of the very best ways to ensure your website is regularly updated with unique content is to enable your online visitors and previous guests to add content directly to your website.
Generator Hostels encourage their customers to upload reviews and ratings directly on their website. Users are encouraged to also upload any photos and videos of their experience.
Encouraging your guests to share their experiences by uploading reviews and ratings will not only help improve the SEO of your website and drive additional traffic, but it will also increase sales.
Many studies have proven how customer reviews increase confidence and trust, helping to influence purchase decisions:
- Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted – nearly 12 times more – than descriptions that come from manufacturers (eMarketer, February 2010).
- 60% of consumers say they’re more likely to make a purchase from a website with ratings and reviews (Jupiter Research and iPerceptions).
- People put a great deal of stock in the opinions of others when looking to purchase a product or service. 90% of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust opinions of unknown users (Econsultancy, July 2009).
- 81% of people planning holidays have read consumer-written product or retailer reviews (Nielsen Online holiday survey, 2009).
- Customer reviews are an important research tool for online consumers, with 71% agreeing that consumer reviews make them more comfortable that they are buying the right product (Nielsen Online holiday survey, 2009).
b. Ensure your site includes sharing tools
So you’ve got all this excellent content on your website that potential customers want to see, what next? By ensuring your website has the relevant tools to enable for the quick and easy sharing of this content to your visitors’ favourite social channels, you will enhance your hostel’s online presence and encourage new audiences to visit your website.
A good reviews solution will prompt the user to share content to their individual social channels, thus driving their friends and family right back to your website. Find out more about our award-winning Social Reviews Application…
Social media campaigns
Why it’s important?
Social media is a powerful awareness and traffic driving tool which can help your hostel to reach new customers and encourage current customers to return to your hostel again and again.
Creative social media marketing campaigns help you to grab new audiences and make a meaningful connection with them by getting them to join your social communities.
Increasing your social communities gives you a chance to catch people when they’re most receptive – browsing their social media profiles for fun. You can get immediate customer feedback, boost sales and drive traffic, and as your community grows, so do your results.
What you can do?
a. Run competitions
Competitions are fantastic methods for boosting your social communities and capturing precious data. People love the chance to escape, so a holiday is a perfect prize, but before you go for the cheapest option, consider what would be most appealing to your audience: a lonely break for one person or a fun break for 2? A 1 night stay or a full weekend of fun filled adventures? If you can’t quite afford a big prize, remember, the more chances to win, the more likely a person will be to enter. Give away a number of smaller prizes (such as vouchers or products) as an alternative.
b. Run flash sales on your social channels
Urgency is a powerful tool. Running sales for a short amount of time motivates users to click and book straightaway, whilst a lengthier sale may lead to users noting the deal but ultimately forgetting it later on. Give the sale a little build up by teasing the sales announcement a few hours before. You’ll get interactions and shares which will only increase the amount of eyeballs on your social channel when you finally announce the sale. Push users through to a specialised discount page on your site to raise both your traffic and your sales in one go.
Some real life examples…
Social media channel management
Why it’s important?
It’s relatively easy to set up a social page for your hostel and then treat it as just another marketing channel. It’s a useful place to post marketing and sales links. But if you think that’s the only use for your page, you’re missing out on a customer service channel and potentially leaving your brand open to attack.
Social media is a conversation and your brand pages/profiles are where your customers may go to let you know their thoughts: positive or negative. It could be a piece of praise for your friendly, helpful staff, or an angry complaint for something they found unsatisfactory. Either way, your customer’s interactions on your social channel can be seen by anyone, so it’s a chance for you to answer complaints and change the negative into positive, whether that’s making an unhappy customer happy or simply being seen to be efficient and caring by your other fans.
What you can do?
a. Gather feedback, and act upon it
The only people who really know what your customers want are…your customers. Social media is immediate, and asking for feedback on your channel could get responses in minutes or even seconds. Involving your customers in your hostel, whether it’s asking them what type of music they want to hear in the hostel common area or holding a poll on what new cocktail to introduce in your bar, fosters a feeling of being valued and included.
Research shows that a Facebook fan is more likely to buy from a brand than a non-fan, so engaging your current fans even further can only help.
b. Turn negative comments into positive actions
If you’re in a customer service industry, complaints are inevitable. Opening your brand up to customers might seem like a frightening step, but the important thing to remember is that these conversations will happen, and it’s better for them to happen on your own community, where you can answer back, than elsewhere.
Develop a robust process for dealing with complaints on social media. Ensure you know exactly what to do and who to contact to get the complaint resolved as quickly as possible. Even if you’re left waiting an hour or so for information, you can still let the complainant know that their issue is being attended to with a friendly, professional message.
You may wish to take the conversation offline if it begins to get complicated, but always ensure it is ultimately resolved publically. Consider how it looks to other fans. A fan that sees you react to a customer’s complaint quickly and politely and also sees that it has been resolved will get a positive impression of your brand, which can help increase their loyalty and confidence in your brand.
c. Be helpful
Customers like to get their information from the source and will often ask you questions about your hostel, availability and special deals. You might question the need to answer these questions as the information will most likely be available on your website, but consider the time-saving nature of social media. If you can answer a customer’s query within a few seconds on Facebook rather than 5 – 10 minutes on the phone, you’ve saved both your time and theirs. Making the customer’s quest for information easier gives them more time & inclination to book with you.
Some real life examples…
In this example, Generator Hostels respond to a customer’s query regarding one of their locations.
Social media is personal and interactive – so it can really help your hostel to not only reach your target audience, but also to build deeper relationships that last longer and really set your brand apart from the competition.
Whether your hostel is known for its superb location, friendly staff, best price or for its bar – your past and prospective customers opinions and experiences play a vital role in the success of your hostel.
Contact us now to find out more about how we can help your hostel to generate profit from social media – +44(0)1179 055 195, firstname.lastname@example.org