How to Leverage the Big Picture: A Snapshot of Visual Social Media.
By Megan Peterson
Sunday, 17th March 2013
Last month Amanda Webb, our director of online and social media, presented Sabre Hospitality Solutions customers with a webinar on Socializing Your Hotel - steps, tips and tricks to be on top of the current social media game and ways to leverage these to grow your business.

As a follow up to Amanda's session, Megan Peterson, who manages social media campaigns for our hotel customers, has provided the post below with a landscape shot of visual social media and ways in which hotels can work with trends in social media to increase loyalty and grow bookings.

A Snapshot of Visual Social Media

The old adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" is truer than ever when it comes to Social Media marketing. Images engage and inspire users, and they make the online experience with your brand richer. The increasing importance of visual Social Media is apparent on established networks as well as in emerging networks and trends.

Many of the latest developments in Social Media are about engaging with users visually. From Pinterest's rapid rise in the Social Media world to Instagram's ubiquity across mobile devices and now desktop, visual social networks are becoming an addictive way for users to connect.

Established Social Media platforms recognize the importance of visual Social Media too. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have all added cover photos to brand pages within the past year. These cover photos are an important tool to strengthen your brand and connect with users.

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Twitter has also recently released Vine, a mobile app that allows users to create short videos of up to six seconds. The videos have motion and sound, but can be previewed in full motion, and sound is only added once a user hits play. Vine falls between photos and videos, creating an engrossing visual experience for the increasingly fast-paced world of Social Media.

The trend toward visual engagement in Social Media isn't just a matter of hype; analytics back up the fact that visual posts perform best across networks.

Analyzing social media posts to see what type of content is effective at reaching your audience is a necessary part of establishing a strong social presence, and analytics on Facebook and Twitter consistently show that posts that contain photos get more interactions and reach than any other type of post, with videos generally coming in second.

Users may follow your brand on Social Media because they are interested in what you have to say, but they are even more interested in what you have to show.

The Big Picture for Your Hotel

Hotels can leverage the visual nature of Social Media by posting more visual content to their current Social Media profiles and setting up accounts on platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Vine if they have the resources to manage these accounts and keep content fresh. To maximize visual assets, a hotel should leverage its current relationships.

Leveraging partners – The partners a hotel works with to plan perfect meetings and events can also be valuable partners to help the property build out its Social Media presence.  Turn offline relationships with photographers, videographers, decorators and caterers into online relationships by following partners on Social Media platforms, and asking them to follow back. Let them know your hotel is interested in cross-promoting their services if they can provide photos or videos from events at your property.

Leveraging guests – Hotel guests are already taking fabulous photos of their vacations, and many of them are already sharing those photos on Social Media. Connect with them to get access to these photos and turn the property's social profiles into vivid networks that show off customers' memories and inspire followers. Encourage guests to connect with the hotel and share their vacation photos with on-property flyers, post-stay emails, and promotions, such as Facebook or Pinterest contests.

Getting the staff involved – Each member of the staff sees a unique snapshot of the hotel each day. Get them involved in taking photos of the hotel that show off interesting details, nice views in or around the hotel, or special moments. Staff members can send their photos to the marketing manager of the hotel, who can share the photos on different networks. Posting those photos gives different viewpoints of the hotel, and crediting the staff members paints a picture for customers who get to see the hotel in a personal way and feel connected to the people who make their hotel stays into brilliant experiences on and offline.

By leveraging these relationships and embracing the visual nature of social media, every hotel can make their Social Media profiles picture perfect.

Megan Peterson (megan.peterson@sabre.com) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, US and is Sabre Hospitality Solutions' social media manager.

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