Top social media marketing tips for the post-COVID consumer

Sep 15, 2021

Country-wide lockdowns and social distancing measures have thrust us into a digital-first world: as protocols and restrictions around the world rapidly change, more people are turning to social media to stay connected and informed on the latest news. Recent statistics show that 56% of consumers browse social media for products and services that relate to their needs, and the companies that maintain a strong social media presence gain the trust of 82% of customers. 

Social media has long been a cost-effective platform for marketing, offering operators the ability to highly target their reach. Now, with consumer reliance on social media accelerated by the pandemic, hoteliers have the perfect opportunity to increase their online presence, market themselves towards the changing demands of the post-COVID consumer and inform consumers of the property’s latest protocols and offerings.

Read on to learn five critical tips operators can use to increase their social media presence, increase conversions and come out stronger in their recovery efforts.

1- Strengthen your brand

Priorities and demands are rapidly evolving: although a strong desire for travel has emerged, consumers are more frequently concerned with a property’s safety and security measures. Additionally, the shared hardships of the pandemic have led to consumers placing more value on brand authenticity and social value than ever before; in a survey on post-pandemic consumer attitudes, a full one-third of consumers strongly agreed that they would reappraise their values and realign themselves with brands whose messages were similar and authentic.

To stay competitive, hotel brands will need to reflect the new consumer mindset online. Since previously planned content may no longer be relevant, this may include revisiting the content calendar and rethinking planned newsletter topics, blog posts, Facebook and Instagram content and the overarching message being conveyed.

2- Identify the post-pandemic audience

To better connect with an online audience, hotel brands must also take the take the time to get to know the post-COVID consumer in their specific segment.

With travelers being more cautious than before, many are seeking reassurance through direct hotel communications—which has led to an increase in direct channel bookings. When a hotel employs an easy-to-use direct booking solution, the data provided can be a valuable tool to understand what brand messages will help hoteliers best connect to their future guests. This can include a better understanding of guest demographics like location, reason for their travel, income and more.

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Using valuable guest analytics can help further hoteliers understand the emerging needs and interests of their customers; for more granular insight, created tailored email surveys can further help operators understand the current priorities, pain points and desires of their guests, and consider integrating your PMS with your CRM for more highly targeted data-driven messaging. Equipped with the information provided by powerful, industry-leading tools, hoteliers can rethink their brand messaging and better connect with today’s guests.

3- Create informative blogs

Inevitably, properties with a strong online presence are experiencing an influx of pandemic-related questions on their social media platforms. Guests want to know location-specific travel limitations, the procedures that are in place at a property and any additional information that may be vital to their travel plans.

For hoteliers, this is the perfect opportunity to address common guest concerns through blog content. By writing articles that cater to the doubts, fears, and questions related to the current situation from a compilation of frequently asked questions, hoteliers can alleviate common guest fears.

Not only can blogging offer hoteliers the ability to reassure guests and keep them informed on the current travel climate, but it can also improve SEO and drive a higher online presence. Keeping customers informed about the protocols the hotel has adopted to keep guests and staff safe, addressing any positive changes such as sustainability and community initiatives, and sharing new flexible cancellation policies and value-added promotions can serve as an additional factor that can drive hotel bookings and alleviate staff who are overwhelmed with common guest inquiries.

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4- Rethink the Approach to Instagram and Facebook

With Facebook and Instagram advertisements offering operators close control over their budgets and target audiences, social media campaigns are a low-cost, highly effective method to build online brand awareness. However, the users on each platform have vital demographic differences, and with this in mind, the advertisements that appeal to the platforms’ users are also different.

For example, Facebook has an older user base, and 52% of its users learn about hotels and other travel brands by looking at property pictures posted by their Facebook friends. With this in mind, operators should consider using photos that demonstrate their property’s visual appeal and available services in their advertisements to stand out. Additionally, adding photos and albums with relevant hashtags such as location, promotions, and amenities may also help persuade interested guests perusing a property’s Facebook page to book a stay.

Despite Facebook having broader scope, Instagram is better at targeting high volume engagement. With a higher ability to turn online followers into future guests, setting goals aimed at increasing a property’s Instagram base can allow hoteliers to tap into a reliable method to drive higher online conversion rates. This can be achieved by offering discounts and promotions online, using specific hashtags, hosting live events and more.

5- Experiment with new formats

Brands around the world are identifying new methods to engage online consumers; for hotels, many brands have created unique engagement opportunities for their guests and followers by highlighting unique aspects of their property, such as sharing special recipes from their restaurant menus, tips from property amenities like yoga and wellness and more. This has also included developing immersive content aimed at providing users with an online “travel” experience by uploading live videos and Virtual Reality experiences on Facebook and Instagram. Consider experimenting with different formats to reinspire potential guests with a unique, connected experience

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In addition to this, using Instagram and Facebook stories, which are only visible for 24 hours, are also increasingly popular methods to connect with guests; the temporary nature of these posts can make content feel more authentic and spontaneous. It also has an inherent ability to drive higher engagement: because it relays a sense of urgency, viewers are urged to act quickly and respond to the content while it’s still available, allowing operators to create stronger relationships with their consumers.  

As hotels navigate a new digital market, these unique posts should continue to play an integral role in a property’s social media strategy. By identifying posts that garner the most engagement, using guest data to target a property’s market, and crafting a brand message that best connects to guests, properties can create a social media strategy that can better engage with today’s guests.

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