NB: This is a guest article by Loren Gray of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) digital marketing board and director of ecommerce at Ocean Properties.
As social media and smartphones continue to dominate the landscape and people become more addicted to "checking in" and updating their status, the hospitality industry must continue to leverage these tools.
Audiences are spending greater portions of time on these platforms throughout the day, making it imperative that we look for ways to develop budget-friendly campaigns and marketing concepts that integrate social media with mobile communication tools.
Based on my experience in creating social media and mobile marketing campaigns aimed at growing traffic and awareness within our resorts and food and beverage outlets, I offer the following thoughts on location-based marketing tactics:
1. Understand your options.
As you well know, Facebook and Twitter are affordable and easy-to-use tools that provide quick, direct access to those who are already fans of your brand.
Similarly, Foursquare has also quickly become a mobile phenomenon as smartphone users check in and monitor where their friends have checked in.
While these are some of the more well-known tools, there are many more available, such as Yelp and Google Places that are equally effective.
2. Employ the right tactics.
With little to no budget, we have leveraged social media to grow our online engagement, resulting in better turnout at meet-ups and events and successful promotions.
This success was encouraged by the use of the right tactics. Below you’ll find samples of winning tactics that have grown our social media following:
- Finding potential Twitter followers for our local competitions and following them, with an auto-reply coupon or giveaway when they follow us back.
- Creating meet-up events (Meetup.com) for weekly promotions at participating properties.
- Developing a contest tab on the Facebook page to host challenges including one to see who takes his / her picture at the most participating locations within a certain time frame.
- Posting local trivia contests within the Facebook promotion page related to a featured property or sponsors for a weekly incentive giveaway.
- Developing geo-specific, interest-filtered Facebook pay-per-click advertising to direct target audiences to pages for a featured property.
- Encouraging discounts during promotions at properties for checking in via Foursquare, Twitter, Yelp, Google Places, TripAdvisor and Facebook Places.
- Texting localized notices of events and incentives to opted-in fans.
- Encouraging ratings and reviews on Yelp, Google Places and TripAdvisor during event participation via Foursquare, Twitter and text.
- Developing content for Facebook and Twitter that offers continuity for audiences and efficiency for staff.
- Creating weekly Foursquare specials and promotions with a heavy reward for first check-ins for all participating properties.
Finally, while social media by nature is about instant communication, it’s important to remember to start campaign messaging and engagement well in advance.
You want to give yourself time to solicit follower participation, incorporate key messages on all participating sites, and encourage a feeling of adopted ownership from those who contribute.
Quick Response (QR) Codes are also helping us through collateral, including table tents, menu inserts, signage and plastic cups, to drive additional traffic to our sites for recipes, promotions and giveaways.
Incentives are offered to all staff to help solicit guests to participate using the QR codes to sign up via text messaging for insights to other local events, thereby creating a reusable geo-specific database, as well as additional access to "follower only" promotional collateral and giveaways.
This gives the opportunity to tap Twitter followers to begin pre-party tweet-ups and give incentives to the next promotion.
Location and mobile-based marketing are, first and foremost, about inspiring dialog, creating advocates and awareness, and contributing to existing conversations on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.
These are not sales campaigns, and as such, should not be measured by ROI. While each brand must identify its own metrics for success, here are some recommendations for each platform:
- Facebook: Increased followers, contest participants, comments or posts; increased number of ‘likes’ by followers; local sponsor solicitations
- Twitter: Increased followers; increased interaction through re-tweets and mentions
- Foursquare: Increased followers and check ins
- Texting: Number of acquired opt-ins for texts and conversion of contacts to traditional email contacts
- Google Places, Yelp, TripAdvisor: Amount of additional reviews and tone of those reviews
This is a guest article by Loren Gray of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) digital marketing board and director of ecommerce at Ocean Properties.