Building Your Brand on Facebook - Part Three in a Five-part Series “A Hotelier's Guide to Social Media Marketing”

By Michael McKean CEO, The Knowland Group | March 06, 2011

By now, most hoteliers know that Facebook is not just a place for college kids to post pictures from last night's party. Today the social networking giant has been wholly embraced by everyone from young professionals to politicians and corporate CEOs to soccer moms. Its appeal as a marketing tool is obvious: With more than 500 million users from across the world, Facebook offers businesses the chance to instantly communicate with one of the largest and most diverse communities in existence. Best of all, this opportunity is available to any business, anywhere, free of charge.

Hotels need to take the time to build a meaningful presence on Facebook. This does not mean simply creating a fan page, adding a link to your web site, and checking back every couple of weeks or so. It does mean growing a loyal base of followers. Offering exclusive content. Throwing in a little personality. Adding value. Successful Facebook pages are a great way to start a conversation about your property and build your brand.

Attracting and keeping a fan base

The only sure way to build a large and loyal following on Facebook is to continually provide interesting content. This can take the form of a photo, a video, an insightful article, or a simple status update. The great thing about a hotel is there is always something new going on, so there's never a shortage of content to share. Here are a few tips to keep people coming back:

Treat your hotel's page like you would your own.

A simple rule to follow when posting to your hotel's Facebook page is to treat it the same way as posting to your personal page. That means keeping it short, and making it engaging and clickable. Be witty. Say something unique. Be the first to share an interesting article or tip. One way or another, you've got to give people a reason to be interested in what you're posting, and you've only got a limited time to do it.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.