If your only goal for being on Facebook is to increase sales, then you’re very likely to fail. That’s because Facebook is not a direct-marketing tool but rather an indirect-marketing tool. In other words, your top priority is to build relationships that ultimately lead to future bookings. This can be accomplished by publishing useful content that your target audience wants and needs.
Follow the “80-20 rule,” where at least 80 percent of your content is non-self-promotional, and just 20 percent (or less) is self-promotional. No one will want to hang out with you on Facebook if you only talk about yourself or publish content that reads like a marketing brochure. Instead, be real, honest, and personable. Your hotel brand should tell a story on Facebook, not bore people to death.
2. Customize Your Facebook Page
Invest in a great Facebook Page design that effectively communicates your brand promise, message, and image. Visitors to your page should feel as though they’re being welcomed into your hotel, albeit online.
There are a number of tools that offer free and affordable Facebook page customization, including Pagemodo, TabSite, and ShortStack. For the more technically savvy, the Wildfire iFrames app is another option.
3. Use Apps, Tools, and Plugins
Of course, you can advertise your hotel through Facebook Ads, and you should always monitor your Facebook Page’s performance using Facebook Insights. However, you should also use Facebook apps and plugins for promotional purposes across your marketing channels. For example, each of the apps and plugins listed below can help you promote your hotel directly on Facebook, or as an integrated element of your cross-promotional strategy:
- Eventbrite for Pages App: This is perfect for promoting events at your hotel. You can even manage RSVPs and ticket sales.
- Promotions App: Launch marketing promotions directly from your Facebook page.
- Contests App: Hold branded contests from your Facebook page.
- Facebook Social Plugins: Add the Facebook Like button and Like box to your hotel website.
4. Get Visitors Involved
If you’re the only one publishing content to your Facebook Page, it’s going to get very boring. The best Facebook Pages are highly interactive, so encourage your visitors to publish comments, click the Like button, tag people in photos, and share pictures and videos from their visits to your hotel.
Remember, every time someone publishes a positive image, video, or comment on your Facebook Page, that activity is also published on his or her personal Facebook profile. Those unsolicited testimonials provide free exposure for your hotel and can be a powerful motivation for people to check out Facebook Page in more detail.
5. Turn Your Facebook Page Into a Sales Tool
As long as you follow the 80-20 rule mentioned above, you can spend some time publishing promotional content on your hotel’s Facebook Page without annoying your community. The trick is to make sure the promotional information you publish adds value.
Consider publishing discount announcements and special offers and deals. For example, the Facebook Deals app easily integrates with your hotel’s Facebook Page as well as with Facebook Places for local promotions. You can also offer exclusive content or promotions for people who Like your Facebook Page. This is a great way to increase Likes to your page, while rewarding your audience at the same time.
More and more hotels are integrating booking engines directly into their Facebook Pages. Other hotels guarantee the lowest prices and offer price matching to guests who make reservations through Facebook. While this type of room booking is still in the early-adopter phase, you can bet it’s going to grow by leaps and bounds in the near future.
Millions of travelers use Facebook every day, and your hotel needs to be there, too. Follow the tips listed above to position your hotel for long-term Facebook marketing success.
Susan Gunelius: Susan Gunelius is a 20-year marketing veteran and President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She has authored nine books about social media, content marketing, branding, copywriting, and blogging, and she is a marketing columnist for Forbes.com and Entrepreneur.com. Susan speaks about marketing, branding, and social media at events around the world and is often interviewed about marketing topics by television, online, print, and radio media organizations.