Designing Social Media to Achieve Virality

By Michael Barbera CEO, Barbera Solutions | March 26, 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 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.