Last week we discussed why you should use social media to tell your hotel’s story. This week, we present some suggestions for how you can use storytelling to enhance your hotel’s reputation. Social media provides exceptional platforms and audiences for sharing stories, yet many hotels produce social media content that is similar – dull, unmemorable, and too salesy. You need to grab the attention of travel shoppers, persuade them to click for more, and convert them into guests – at the same time you strengthen the awareness of your brand. If you have good information online, people stay!
Social media is all about building relationships; people return to your sites because they are interested in your content, not always in what you are selling.
The power of images
‘Show don’t tell’ usually works best. The more visuals and images you use, the more effective your storytelling will be. When you post photos of your property, make them pop off the page so that the reader will be drawn in and want to see more.
Sometimes a good picture will tell your story much more effectively than using a long verbal description. Your guests will actually see your rooms and amenities and will read a few words chosen to enhance the photos. Include stories about your location, facilities, and events close by. If your prospective guests know what there is to do and see, it gives them a better picture with which to make their decision.
Social media is a particularly good way to encourage the kinds of stories that will spread your brand. Let’s look at a few social media sites and see how you can use them to tell your story.
Both you and your guests use Facebook. To tell your story:
- Show off your team by conducting a ‘Staff Member of the Week’ contest
- Either your guests or your staff can vote
- Post videos of staff cooking in the kitchen (that’s a fun one)
- Post entertaining comparisons – picture staff in uniform and ‘professionally serious’ at the front desk, and the same staff members having fun by competing in a run or other event off duty.
- Conduct competitions such as ‘best photo of the week’, or ‘your favourite special place in our hotel’
- Ask your guests to post photos – about their favourite experiences, their favourite food, or a significant event (birthday, anniversary) that staff made special.
- Tell your hotel’s story by using your location, with photos of local parks, theatres, museums, sports parks, and other special places nearby.
Use your imagination and find some of the endless ways to tell your story on Facebook. All of this will build engagement on your page by the Likes and Shares that you stimulate.
Twitter allows only 140 characters in a tweet, but you can still write a convincing message in a few words. Remember, you can be lighthearted, funny, or even dramatic, when you compose your tweets. Make sure to ‘share don’t sell’.
- Make current broadcasts and updates such as announcing that your lobby renovations are now complete, or it’s finally warm enough to open your outdoor pool
- Post the winner of a competition
- Publicize a special event nearby – and even post the results in real time
An example of a ‘share don’t sell’ package tweet could be “Can you keep a secret? We’re having a momma’s getaway this weekend.” Don’t forget to post an appealing photo!
Video is perhaps the most authentic medium – you cannot cheat and hide behind careful words, or stunning images. Video is also the most effective medium – YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world! You don’t need expensive equipment and a big filming crew to shoot your short YouTube videos. An iPhone, or a small hand-held video camera will provide you with a clip that is good enough for a YouTube posting. Make sure to open your own channel on YouTube; it is fast, and easy. Then whatever you post can easily be re-posted to your other channels – and shared.
Here are a few ways to stand out:
- Shoot short vignettes of guests all around the hotel
- Playing in the swimming pool
- Gathering in the lounge for a cocktail
- Eating in your dining room or lining up for a buffet.
- Take a panorama of your property, and a close up of your hotel’s name
- Provide a series of short videos of surrounding landmarks
- Let a staff person, or your concierge, develop some short walking tours of the area and provide a short commentary
- Show your guests and send them off on an enjoyable afternoon’s walk
Don’t forget to ask your guests to share your videos to their sites, and repost their videos to yours. This way, you get more of that vital engagement that the search engines are looking for.
We have told you all about Pinterest already in previous posts, but the recently redesigned platform cannot go unmentioned in this one either. You can pin photos to tell the story of your hotel – and when your guests pin, they show the story of where they are and what they are doing. It is all about people following you, so you will get more reaction if you use fresh content, rather than re-pinning others’ images. Plus, own images will lead to traffic to your website!
Note: You must remember to get the guests’ permission to post their images. While it is probably enough to get verbal permission, it is a better idea to have a short release form that they can sign, and you can file. Of course, when there is a crowd and faces are not recognizable, you do not need individual permissions.
Are you overwhelmed?
There’s a lot to know!
If you have not yet been using storytelling to its potential, think about how you might begin. You cannot do everything at once, so start by adding it to one platform and one medium at a time. Work with that for a while until you are comfortable, and then add another one. Unless you have endless resources, you will choose two or three sites and get to know them well. You will soon have guests returning to your social media sites repeatedly because they want to find out more of your hotel’s story. And that will also bring them back to your hotel again and again.
Final Action Tip
As a prompt to your guests, put a Facebook reminder card in their key packages, and if you have other social media channels, enclose the URLs for them as well.
Good luck, and may you and your guests have fun building your storytelling through social media!