Björn Tantau, a specialist in online marketing, heads the social media section of TRG – The Reach Group GmbH.
He is best known for his recent book on Google+, Google+: Starting and Strategies for successful marketing and increased reach. He was invited by the ITB to give travel industry's suppliers tips on how to minimize mistakes on social networking pages such as Facebook and Google+.
According to Tantau, surfers are generally impatient. They want to get as much information out of a site as possible, on their first click. Google+ and other social media sites require "trivial" information on their first page – a customer's first access point to information. However, the little space allowed for texts can often lead to miscommunication.Fail! How to succeed on Google+: Author and Online Marketing Expert Björn Tantau
As he puts it, "uninformative short-texts can be problematic for the travel industry provider since the competition is only one click away… The first details a consumer sees on a page needs to be as complete and convincing, with as few words as possible."
He gave industry specialists a checklist to go home with:Story telling
The first lines of the front page need to be short, concise and tell the customer what he is about to experience. Story telling is important and it can be done with a combination of short texts and pictures. It is a consumer's first impression about the supplier. If it is convincing, then the customer will click further for more details.
Since consumers like to complete the surfing process fast, Tantau encourages page owners to make sure that the imprint and website links are clearly visible – making the clicking experience easy. Sharing links: Linking external websites to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites is essential, since this is where all the action is. Thus each website needs and easy to find "LIKE" and "SHARE" buttons.
Sharing sites are an effective way to increasing public awareness and expanding a customer base. But it is important that shared links have a convincing and informative appearance when clicked on. Some "shares" show a long URL rather than a relevant text or clear picture. This is inacceptable, if a page owner is concerned his image and appearance, Tantau said. Also, when sharing external links, page owners should ensure that the links lead to sites relevant to their own enterprise.Fans
Acquiring fans is necessary in order to rise in the rankings and be found easily in internet searches. Page-user "shares" are the best way to reach new fans. However, community management of these fans is essential as well. Simply being "liked" is not enough. The page needs to be filled with life and interaction.Timing
Tantau emphasized that companies need to talk to their fans (i.e. do their story-telling) while these fans (i.e. customers) are logged onto the site, and not at odd hours. This increases a fan's chances of seeing it - as the posts will be marked at the top of a user's page. A page owner can best manage his community via continual interaction with his fans. Such interaction leads to site-credibility, which translates into better online rankings.Fan entries
Fan entries need to be responded to as quickly as possible. Quick reaction-times are essential. It is imperative that suppliers offset negative comments on their walls as quickly as possible, before others see it, if possible. Customers perceive a page owner's immediate response as good customer service. This, in turn, gets translated into increased customer loyalty.
More fans vs interaction rate: Fan population is less important than the interaction-rate with the fans themselves. Interaction means people are talking about something. A page in which nothing happens does not get spoken about, regardless of how many fans it may have. "Talking leads to an edge rate increase. That means a page owner's visibility ranks higher on a fan's timeline, making it more probably that a fan is going to read it. A posting alone does not help increase visibility, interaction does," Tantau said.
As far as acquiring fans goes, Tantau see's nothing wrong with begging for "Likes". He finds that it still works but warns that it could backfire, when people start reacting "allergically" to it. He does not see begging it as a future-based model.
Finally, Tantau warns hotels not to leave any blanks or ellipses in their online posts. "That is such a waste of precious space," he said. Social media sites do not offer a lot of space for posts so Tantau encourages page owners to take advantage of the little spaces available to them and fill them with clear and concise content. "Page owners get only one chance per post to make a lasting impression," Tantau concluded.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.
Roland Wildberg is Travel Writer and Correspondent based in Berlin, Germany. He started as an Editor for the National daily 'Die Welt' (tourism section), later on switched to a freelanced career and nowadays mainly publishes on the Web. Observing the hospitality industry always has fascinated him as it looks like the perfect combination of sleeping and writing – work-live-balance as its best.
Roland also heads the annual 4Hoteliers ITB Berlin news micro-site journalist and video/photo teams for the 5th consecutive year.