Achieving Virality in Social Media

By Michael Barbera CEO, Barbera Solutions | January 29, 2017

Virality is a social media marketer's dream. Achieving virality is a feat that few could claim. It is statistically more likely to be admitted to an Ivy League university, to win the lottery or to be struck by lightning than to go viral. Social media marketers continuously attempt to develop content that contains all of the essential attributes of historically viral posts. However, changing the default could increase the chances of virality and increase organic reach: set the honeypot.

Social media marketers spend the majority of their time designing content at their computer. Instead, they should work with the organization's interior designers, chefs, and event staff. Setting the honeypot is laying a trap, or bait. The bait is an item, a cuisine, a swan-shaped towel or any service the consumer could consider "going the extra mile." The swan-shaped towel, an art-like meal, and unique lobby art all create the cognitive desire to share the experience, and the most convenient method of sharing this experience is via social media.

Hospitality and food service are two extremely saturated industries with significantly low barriers to entry, and the most persuasive thing an individual could do is show that others are doing it too. If a follower of a guest views a post from their friend on social media, they are more than likely to search for that location when planning a visit to that geographic area. It is the oldest persuasive trick: peer pressure. However, the technical name is social proof.

Spending more time with interior designers or art curators does not require new purchases on the company account, recreating the wheel, or spying on competitors. Identifying unique items throughout the common areas, individual rooms, and restaurants and lounges is likely the best method of finding post-worthy articles. It is likely your organization already possesses these items. If these articles are not receiving much social media attention, a simple nudge might support a change. Move the items to an area, or into a position that may receive more traffic, or next to other items that receive the attention of social media.

To increase social proof, you should double the bait. Act like a guest during peak times, take photos of the items, overtly post them to social media. Verbally spell out the hashtag as you type it on your mobile device and move on to another article. These actions are likely to create curiosity and desire for belonging, which will likely increase the chances of onlookers searching for that same hashtag or posting a photo of that article. If another person posts a photo of these items, here's a breakdown of what we have created.

First, we created free marketing content with increased organic reach. The individual posting the content likely geotagged the location, which now creates another avenue for potential clients to find your business, and the most undervalued attribute: memory. You created an everlasting memory for the photo taker.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.