With the beginning of a new year brings new marketing initiatives, and there's no better (and free) place to spread your hotel's messaging than on Twitter, but there's more to Twitter than just promotions. I get asked by hotels on a regular basis how to best keep up
But the social network has a distinct vernacular that can be confusing and intimidating. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned pro, here are nine best practices for making the most of your Twitter presence. 1. Build a following
. The best way to make an impact on Twitter is to increase your Twitter reach. SImply put, get more followers. This doesn't mean you should go out and buy a list of potential Twitter followers to up your reach. The result is often a bunch of uninterested people who don't have an infinity for your brand. Instead, go the quality route - reach out to customers who have tweeted about you, and communicate with media and industry professionals who understand the hotel space. 2. Speak your customers language
. No, I'm talking about investing in foreign translation services. Your tweets should be clear and simple, always with an engaging language. If there's a problem, address it. If there's a promotion, share it. If you like something, say so. The hotel Twitter account serves multiple purposes - a customer appreciation and interaction funnel, a customer service mechanism, and a promotional vehicle. Use them equally and be clear with each message. 3. Listen, and learn
. Think of Twitter as one of the most honest feedback tools at your disposal. Set up a feed that tracks all mentions of your hotel and brand, and make time each day to read what's being said. Tweets are real-time from real people, which means that what you read is direct from your customers and sometimes your media. Learn from them, respond to them, and be proactive in your communication. 4. Act fast
. When you see a Tweet-problem, respond to it. Today's customers are also your make-shift marketing team. This means when they post a message about you - good or bad - all of their followers will see it. Acting fast is the best way to nip the situation in the bud. Even if you don't have an answer for your guest, just letting them know you're working on the problem/question and will reach out privately is enough to manage the situation. Just make sure to follow up! 5. Emphasize the guest experience
. One of the best ways to promote your hotel is through rich media that emphasizes what the guest will experience during their stay. Tweet photos of guest rooms, restaurants, special amenities, the spa and even the friendly faces they'll meet upon entering. Make sure to encourage your guests to use Twitter during their stay and post their favorite photos, too. When you see them, retweet from the hotel's Twitter account.
Remember, Twitter is a communication tool. Activating hashtags and special promotions when guests are in house are a great way to keep up with what's happening at the hotel. Make sure to feed all necessary customer service questions to the right people and above all else, keep a positive attitude. This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
Melanie Nayer is a hotel reviewer and expert on luxury travel around the world. She has covered all aspects of hotels including corporate restructures, re-branding initiatives, historical aspects and the best of the best in luxury hotels around the world. Melanie writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com