There’s no question that social media offers hotels and restaurants an unprecedented opportunity to engage with consumers. As noted in Facebook’s 2019 Topics & Trends report, many find inspiration for their next travel destination through scrolling through their Facebook and Instagram feeds. While Facebook may have faced some challenges as a company in 2018, it is still the most widely-used of the major social media platforms, and its user base is considered to be the most representative of the population as a whole. Instagram’s social community includes over a billion users globally, according to Statista, and is one of the most effective in engaging with customers. It’s a safe bet that your target audience of potential guests is using Facebook or Instagram.
Considering that these social platforms are changing rapidly in order to boost engagement among their users, there are some key trends that hotels and restaurants should watch.
Increase in Social Messaging
According to eMarketer, by the end of 2018, 78% of the world’s smartphone users will message every month. In addition, it is projected by the end of 2021, these numbers will reach to 96%. An astonishing fact is that 51% of those surveyed said that messaging had replaced every other form of social communication for them. Facebook Messenger provides an easy way for people to ask questions of businesses in the same platform where they already spend a good portion of their time. In 2018, our clients witnessed a steady increase in messages being sent to their Facebook page through Messenger. This means that hotels and restaurants must have someone keeping an eye on their Facebook Inbox (which is connected to Messenger) throughout the day. Consumers have come to expect a quick response so it’s important to show you care by connecting with them in real-time to answer any questions they may have.
Everyone has a Story
Facebook and Instagram Stories—vertically oriented photo slideshows or videos that are temporarily viewed and shared on social media—are capturing the attention of consumers and marketers. Last year Facebook’s chief product officer Chris Cox disclosed that, “The Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.” In fact, Facebook’s internal data reveals that stories are growing 15 times faster than feeds.
What does this mean for your business? Stories provide you with a new and engaging way to reach your followers. Facebook IQ research has found that people enjoy using stories to connect with businesses: 69% said brands using stories is a great way for people to get to know new products or services and 62% said they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories.
The Stories format is ideal for showing ‘behind the scenes’ footage or quick snippets of things happening at your hotel or restaurant on a day to day basis. You can make them even more interactive when you add polls or hashtags to the story. Utilizing these tools will help you highlight everything your hotel or restaurant has to offer in a unique, exciting way. Posting such content will put you ahead of the curve and help you stand out from what your competitors may be doing.
Guests Trust Peer-to-Peer Recommendations
Peer-to-peer recommendations were key in 2018 and will continue to be important to your business growth in 2019. Hootsuite’s 2018 social trends survey showed that two-thirds of consumers consider a company’s social media page as more believable than advertising. Consumers continue to trust a friend or peer’s recommendation—a person they consider to be like themselves—more than they trust a product or a brand’s representative.
While big-name social influencers have had their hey-day (and some still have major sway), more emphasis has been placed on smaller influencers and the recommendations of average people whom they trust. Recommendations are not considered authentic by consumers when they see that someone is being paid to do so. This is why it is important to seek out and promote content posted by your happy guests or restaurant patrons.
Navigating the social media landscape and keeping up with changes can be difficult. Keeping an eye on rising trends such as increased use of messaging, stories and recommendations can keep you ahead of the game and allow you to engage with potential guests.
Karen Nichols is the Global Marketing & Social Media Director at iResponze where she leads a team of social savvy experts, that includes several influencers in their own right. She is a seasoned marketer with over 20 years of experience building global brands and leading marketing programs in hospitality, retail, manufacturing, and non-profit sectors.
Created by hotel professionals, iResponze® was established to fill a need within the hospitality community to assist with online reviews, guest feedback & surveys, and to manage social media for hotel and restaurants. This partnership allows staff to focus on what they do best—deliver exceptional guest experiences. Check out our recent Facebook Series webinars available for on-demand viewing at www.iResponze.com.