The New Reality of Facebook Marketing.
By Josiah Mackenzie
Friday, 11th September 2009
Over the past few months, I've seen hotels creatively use Facebook to successfully attract new guests and connect with past ones.

This has led me to recommend a new situational approach to using Facebook: what works for some hospitality companies may not work for others.

It seems you must have clear goals for being on the site before you can succeed.

The Pros & Cons of using Facebook

  • It can serve as a rich media sharing platform for collecting and distributing photos and video of special events at your hotel
  • You can extend your page functionality through various applications
  • It can serve as a good social media hub, sharing content from various sites around the web
  • The new enhanced wall feature encourages interactivity and creates a sort of "lifestream" around your hotel
  • Event promotion seems to be something that works very well – considering how people tend to use Facebook
  • You can rally people around a cause
  • Access to statistics has improved over the past few months, making it easier to track metrics
  • Your potential guests may not be using it
  • Your guests may not want to use it to interact with a hotel
  • People may even get annoyed by receiving marketing messages from a hotel on Facebook
"I thought Beverly Hilton was an old girlfriend, but then realized I'd been friended by a hotel. #HiltonFail" @simmonet

But perhaps the most powerful argument I hear against using Facebook is that is doesn't reach people in the decision making stage of the travel planning process. This is something you must consider carefully if you are starting a brand-new Internet marketing campaign with limited resources. You may get a higher return on investment by focusing on online reputation building and search marketing.

Should your hotel have a Facebook presence?

Here are some questions to ask yourself

Who is our target market? Yes, the fastest growing demographic is users above 35 — and maybe even women over 55. But I recommend using tools such as Quantcast to see if the people that you want to reach are actually using this site.

Could this help our search marketing efforts? Most likely, it will.  Facebook pages sit  outside the secure firewall — allowing search engines to crawl their content. Given the good relationship that Facebook has with Google, there's an excellent chance that your page will appear highly in search results.

Do we have upcoming events that we want to promote? Some of the best Facebook marketing campaigns that I've seen are centered around event promotion. If your hotel or restaurant regularly has special events this is a great place to get the word out.

Do we have photos and video that we can share? Facebook is becoming more and more centered around media. The more content you can upload to your page, the more interactive it will feel.

Do we have enough time to create an effective presence here? With so many social media options, it's important not to lose focus. If you have the resources to effectively promote your hotel on Facebook, go for it. Otherwise, you may want to wait until you have more time or support for producing your page.

What is our long-term strategy? If you acquire 5,000 fans: what will happen then? It's easy to get caught up with meaningless statistics in social media. Avoid this by having a real business strategy for participating in a site like Facebook.

Alternatives to Facebook

If you asked yourself the above questions, and decided that Facebook isn't for you, here are some smart alternatives that may give you a better return on investment:

Blogs. Publishing a blog – either about your hotel or about your destination – has the potential to bring long-term traffic to your hotel website. By being accessible outside the network, you can reach more people. It also can serve many of the same media sharing functions that work well on Facebook.

Flickr & YouTube. Sharing rich media seems to be one of the most effective uses of Facebook. But sharing your photos and videos on these popular websites allows them to be viewed by people who may not be members of a closed social network. Again, this gives search marketing benefits, and increases your overall Web visibility.

Take a look at how other hotels are using Facebook.

One of the best ways to get marketing inspiration – and help you decide whether you should be using Facebook as a marketing channel – is to look at how other hotels are using this platform.

A few months ago, I analyzed five different types of hotel Facebook pages on Guillaume's blog. You can also see this list of hotels on Facebook…or read HotelChatter stories about Facebook.

What do you think: what is the best criteria for choosing Facebook as a hotel marketing tactic?

Original article: www.hotelmarketingstrategies.com/facebook-reality

About the author
This blog is written by Josiah Mackenzie, who enjoys exploring the relationship between emerging technology and the hospitality industry. 

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