Is social media just a costly business distraction?

An introduction:
For those that know me, you’ll have heard me wax lyrical about ‘content’, ‘messaging’ and how content needs to be interesting. And now, with the power of online, how the simple rules of marketing have been relegated to the bottom of the pile or even forgotten.

Social Media is one of those marketing channels that nearly every business thinks they need to be using, yet so few get it right or even begin to understand how it needs to fit into the bigger marketing picture.

In this new world – the world of online – it’s not often I bump into a social media provider that talks my language. I bumped into Andrea Hewer recently and she agreed to share her thoughts with me in the blog below. I hope you find it interesting and thought-provoking. If you’d like to know more, give either Andrea or myself a call.

Please note; Andrea specialises in the high-end hotel, restaurant and hospitality sector.

Is social media just a costly business distraction?

Does this ring true?

  • ‘It’s too much. Social media has become too big, too quickly.’
  • ‘I don’t get it and, barring a bit of toe dipping to stay in touch with family & friends, I definitely don’t want to be on it myself.’
  • ‘These are public forums for people saying bad stuff about my business, unchecked.’
  • ‘It’s questionable if it’s having any positive effect on my short term or long term business objectives and is proving to be an increasingly time-consuming distraction for my busy teams.’
  • ‘I understand that it’s the done thing to have presence on a couple of social media platforms but our following stats are weak and as part of our marketing mix, this is an expensive nice-to-have.’

If this mirrors the thinking in your business, then you are not alone and your social media is not being developed creatively or managed well. Sorry, it’s not about you, it’s about your end user, potentially thousands of past, present and future hotel guests, restaurant or inn goers who love your or your client’s place and who enjoy interacting and booking via social media. Time to revisit social strategy and kick in with some much more meaningful, trackable KPI’s.

Reload any social media strategy with silver bullets

On the face of it, the nurturing of online brand honeypots, brimming with brand fans, is so alluring. Many hospitality business owners who have prodded the beast awake though have been met with more of a squeak than the roar that they expected. Managing enticing, service-led accounts in-house, on a daily basis, is easier said than done, especially with marketing team members coming and going, and trendy agencies rarely do consistently deliver the ‘extension of brand excellence’ needed.

So, what are the answers?

  • Engage with the engagers. Attend to every social media mention of the business, negative or positive.
  • Never assume that extending a brand to social media is a simple job, deliverable by the office intern or someone’s son/daughter because they can work the tools.
  • Appoint proven, super-experienced, ‘emotionally intelligent’ (we hate that phrase too), highly organised operatives, well versed in broadcasting and responding live in a strong, pre-agreed brand tone of voice, day and night, 365 days a year.
  • Field booking enquiries well. Extend your amazing core service levels to social media with a tight online concierge framework, more strings to your social media managers’ bows. A community of ‘regulars’ will follow.
  • Start tracking monthly Reach and Engagement with notes on what’s working. Build on any successes. Test.
  • Don’t be seen too sell too hard. Just share what’s good about your good place and products in well-crafted words images and video and they will come.
  • Build communities organically by implementing follower and following management – reaching out and connecting.
  • Remember that social media, managed well, can be an enormous force for GOOD business development.

The most meaningful Social media KPI’s  (and Senior Management Madness)

Some social media growth and development issues do lie with Board and Senior Management’s KPI reporting and reviewing expectations. The obvious, ongoing rookie mistake is to focus solely and stubbornly on Following, kind of interesting but not as important or nearly as representative of success as other social media health stats. Any business’ top, trackable social KPI’s need to be:

  • Engagement (likes, comments, shares…)
  • Impressions (instances of content displayed)
  • Reach (unique users who may see several Impressions).

Some very healthy social media accounts (in terms of channelling web traffic and sparking ‘delight’) can have a low Following quantity and comparatively high Engagement numbers. If Engagement is low and flat-lining, content quality and frequency must be reviewed and adjusted until Engagement rates lift.

Another off-pat response to building more social success is to artificially increase Following by applying some ‘Competitions’. Think carefully about this. Yes, competitions can be dynamic in quickly building high volume of following (i.e. follow and share to be in with a chance of a freebie) and the inflated ‘perceived popularity’ may be seen to be a good thing on the surface but the result is over-estimated – ‘hollow follows’ from people who are out for WIN and FREE result in weak social communities, ready for a bargain. Instead, major on more brand-enhancing storytelling interspersed infrequently with clever offers. Genuine fans will then follow, albeit at a slower rate.

How are Engagement, Reach, Impressions (and Following) statistics monitored for all our social media accounts?

Andrea Hewer at Hewer Social majors on the high-end hospitality experience, providing all of the above and more, working autonomously but at the same time closely with brand ambassadors and PR/Marketing teams. Detailed, key statistics are provided monthly in a Group report showing % growth across Engagement, Reach, Impressions and Following, covering multiple social media platforms either for a single property (hotel, inn or tourist destination) or for a small group of hospitality businesses. Link tracking and Google analytics monitoring with the core marketing teams can then form an intelligent suite of ‘what’s hot and what’s not’ and throw light on the success of any adjacent PR & Marketing pushes.

So, returning to:

Social media is just a costly business distraction!

No, it’s a powerful, yet complex tool set that, when done well, can actively support and develop business.

Does this ring true?

Hopefully not after reading the above.

  • It’s too much. Social media has become too big, too quickly.’

There is a place for our business in this exciting and rapidly growing environment.

  • ‘I don’t get it and, barring a bit of toe dipping to stay in touch with family & friends, I definitely don’t want to be on it myself.’

I’m confident that our social media experts are doing a great job in spreading the word about our amazing place, products and people and fielding all the attracted interest in our business.

  • These are public forums for people saying bad stuff about my business, unchecked.

We have some very tight guest relations processes in place with our social media people so we pick up all negative mentions of our business and invariably convert the negatives to positives.

  • It’s questionable if it’s having any positive effect on my short term or long term business objectives and is proving to be an increasingly time-consuming distraction for my busy teams.

We definitely do see an uplift in offers and events interest, and overall sales and positive PR has been increasing. With supported and supportive employee groups focused on social media content contribution and community feedback, the cultural impact on our teams is very positive’.

  • I understand that it’s the done thing to have presence on a couple of social media platforms but our following stats are weak and as part of our marketing mix, this is an expensive nice-to-have.’

Social media’s a vital element of our Marketing mix. This is a healthy ‘must-have’ for our place and people!