Social Media: Balancing Content and Commerce Objectives
By Frederic Willm Director of Digital Marketing, Design Hotels AG | February 24, 2013
Co-authored by Toby McDonald CRM & Loyalty Manager, Design Hotels, and Dawid Grausch Social Media Manager, Design Hotels
Hospitality brands that decide to be present on social media need to set their strategic goals and objectives. Social media objectives can generally be broken down into two types – those concentrating on the 'business' outcomes: increasing sales, web traffic, conversion; and those focusing on the 'connection' outcomes: raising brand awareness, managing brand reputation, building trust.
Strict business or commerce objectives are not well suited to the social media world, where word of mouth and soft-sell works best, though they should not be ignored. The key to success is to first establish a relationship with current and potential customers – build brand trust & awareness, and then ease in offers. This process can take time and effort, but in the end the right mix of content and product-related messages (and factors like timing & targeting) will result in sales. The big question is – how do we find the right balance between the first and second group of objectives to successfully convert fans into customers?
Establishing relationships is essential to brand building
Social media offers multiple opportunities for hospitality brands to build relationships with their current and potential customers. Before deciding about being present on one or multiple platforms, brands need to determine what they expect of each platform, as well as define how the intended content & messages should be communicated. Seeing social media as just another online sales channel is a mistake.
Social media is primarily about relationships - hence "social" - and not advertising or sales; this means that that the core objective is establishing and maintaining relationships with potential and current customers to foster brand trust. Entertainment & interaction are key: consumers follow and interact with brands on social media because they can identify with and are interested in the content that is presented to them, be it images, music, videos, articles, discussions, etc. Maintaining a brand image (visual identity and language) that is consistent throughout all of the brand's channels is important herein. It certainly has to be more casual, but still represent the essence of a brand. This should form the very basis of any social media strategy.
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