The Secrets of Successful Social Media Marketing

By Robert King General Manager, Travel & Hospitality, ClickSquared | December 26, 2010

If you've been reading my articles regarding optimizing guest (and travel agent) communications, then you've probably noticed that there is no one "silver bullet" that does the trick. Rather, communications must be integrated and orchestrated for maximum impact: this is the essence of cross-channel marketing.

It's no different with social media marketing -- the "new frontier" for marketers today.

Just to be sure we're on the same page, social media marketing is the use of social networks, online communities, blogs, wikis or any other online collaborative media for marketing, sales, public relations and customer service. Usually when consumers think of social media, sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube spring to mind. These communities give people a way to connect on a more personal level, enabling them to create content to share with family, friends, co-workers and other like-minded individuals.

It's all about conversation, and the first and most important part of any good conversation is the ability to listen. For marketers, social media, at its essence, is primarily a listening post into customer sentiment.

The Evolution of Social Media Marketing

How is social media marketing different than other kinds of marketing? Traditionally, marketers have created marketing campaigns based on specific events, promotions, product launches, etc. They've been in the driver's seat – they decide the message, the medium, and the recipient. With social media marketing the marketer becomes a "facilitator". You engage in a "conversation" rather than deliver a monologue. While initially passive in this space, marketers are now active participants in the conversation and using community dynamics to their advantage.

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.