The Power of Visual Content and Image-based Social Networks

By Jennifer Dunphy Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Vayu Media | October 20, 2013

In the past few years there has been a paradigm shift in digital marketing to that of rich visual content. Rapid changes and advances in online communications, and the constant need to "keep up with the Joneses" encourages best practices to evolve and social networks to improve at an impressive rate. With so much to offer and so little time (and even less budget) to go around, hoteliers find themselves questioning the suitability of certain social networks for their hotels. Should you include YouTube, Pinterest & Instagram? Do you really need to be on each and every network? Would video marketing appeal to your guests? Which social networks are falling off the radar? And what are the hot trends these days? Considering that social media sharing is quickly becoming one of the most important factors in organic search engine rankings, you would be remiss to ignore the latest trends and how they may impact your hotel.

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In the current digital landscape, savvy marketers are utilizing social media in countless creative ways. However, many hotels and travel related businesses these days seem to be socially scatterbrained with no clear-cut social media plan being implemented. If any, these seem to be "spray and pray" strategies consisting of posting anything and everything and seeing what sticks. It is a fact that visual content will improve any businesses online strategy, so why are so many businesses hesitant to jump on the bandwagon? We are living in a "show me don't tell me" digital world. Pretty pictures and informative videos are the best. But you know who likes them even more than your guests? Marketers! Marketers who are embracing visual content are seeing huge returns in terms of more website visits, leads, and bookings.

Also revenue. With consumers' attention being pulled into dozens of different directions and bombarded by advertisements at every corner, it is essential for hotel marketers to embrace visual social media sites such as Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr and other image sharing sites. Visual social media marketing is here to stay, and it is making big bucks for the hotels that engage their current and potential guests.

Still not so sure that social media is worth your time? Here are a few facts that may entice you to join the visual content movement.

  • 90% of all information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. (Sources: 3M Corporation and Zabisco)
  • 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. (Source: Zabisco)
  • Pinterest generated more referral traffic for businesses than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined. (Source: Shareaholic)
  • Visual content drives engagement. In fact, just one month after the introduction of Facebook timeline for brands, visual content -- photos and videos -- saw a 65% increase in engagement. (Source: Simply Measured)
  • Posts with videos attract 3 times more inbound links than plain text posts. (Source: SEOmoz)
  • Viewers spend 100% more time on pages with videos on them. (Source: MarketingSherpa) , furthermore Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video. (Source:Internet Retailer)
  • Over 60 hours of videos are uploaded each minute on YouTube.com. (Source: YouTube)
  • 85% of the US internet audience watches videos online. The 25-34 age group watches the most online videos, and adult males spend 40% more time watching videos on the internet than females. (Sources: comScore and Nielsen)
  • Publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those who don't. (Source: AnsonAlex)
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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.