Comment: A summer social media roundup

Regular Hotelier columnist Martin Kubler discusses the secrets to keeping social media momentum going, even in the GGC's quiet summer months

Martin Kubler is the founder of Iconsulthotels and the CEO of sps:affinity.
Martin Kubler is the founder of Iconsulthotels and the CEO of sps:affinity.

We’re always being told that social media is a 24/7/365 affair, but with summer temperatures at their highest and many of us enjoying our holidays abroad, social media activities can drop down a few notches.

It’s a good time to take a social breather and do a little housekeeping and “behind the scenes” organising. Here’s a little, hospitality-centric, roundup of the latest changes and opportunities:

Facebook is preparing for yet another major change which is going to considerably impact the reach of business pages. A little while ago, the world’s largest social network announced that it would start to actively prioritise posts from user’s friends in timelines over content from business pages. In other words, even if you run a very active and engaged Facebook page for your hotel or restaurant, you will see the reach of your posts drop further. For businesses, it appears to spell the end of Facebook as a “free” marketing and audience engagement tool and to further accelerate its move to a paid advertising channel.

As if this wasn’t challenging enough, Instagram, which over the past few years has steadily risen in importance for hotels trying to engage their audiences, also recently implemented what is, perhaps, the biggest change since the start of the service in 2010. The picture-sharing network introduced a Facebook-style algorithm, which means that posts will no longer be shown in chronological order in users’ timelines, but filtered by quality and engagement. High quality, popular posts will be shown to more users in your network than other posts and Instagram will take user behavior and preferences into account when displaying posts. It’s not all bad news, though, because the picture-centric platform also announced that it will roll out detailed analytics over the next few months and introduce better tools for businesses, including improved handling of comments and expanded business profiles. The new business profiles are said to include a Facebook-style “Contact” button, business categories, and direct links to a business’ map location from the profile page.

Facebook, too, has some good news for business users. Zuckerberg & Co earlier this year rolled out a “multilingual composer” to let companies share posts with diverse audiences in many languages, automatically serving individual users the posts in their preferred language. This new feature is particularly useful for hotels wishing to target their main markets in their mother tongues. Perhaps even more interesting is the continuous enhancement of Facebook’s “Live” feature, which is growing in popularity by the minute. In India, Facebook is about to start trials of “offline” videos, i.e. allowing users to download videos from the platform to their own devices and watch them over and over again.

Snapchat recently took the interesting decision to allow its users to edit previously uploaded snaps, upload pictures from their photo libraries, and create permanent “Memories”, which — unlike previously — do not disappear after a certain time. In other words, Snapchat is becoming more like, say, Instagram. The platform is growing popular with older audiences, so the changes should be good news for hotels looking to create more Snapchat content, because they’re no longer limited to “live” updates only.

Not really known for its social media activities, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn a little while ago, which may herald much more sophisticated integrations of LinkedIn into the various Microsoft Office products. Most of us are using Microsoft Outlook or Word to communicate with guests and it’ll be interesting to see if the new partnership is going to yield more ways to tap into useful customer data while sending them emails or documents.

Twitter hasn’t grown as fast as other social networks recently and decided to introduce a number of changes to woo back users. Going forward, the platform is rolling out changes to its character limitations. Videos, pictures, and usernames will now no longer count towards the 140 characters limit and neither will tweets you’re quoting. As a result, you should be able to compose new tweets faster and with more content.

Whatever you do: Keep it social!

Five things to try — get ready for a social autumn

1. Check your profiles & about texts: Check that all descriptions and links are up-to-date and perhaps take the time to also update your profile and banner images if you haven’t done so for a while.

2. Get rid of inactive & spam connections: Spam followers and inactive users negatively impact engagement levels, so use free tools like Crowdfire or ManageFlitter to quickly unfollow low-quality and inactive accounts.

3. Make sure you’re secure: Make sure all your accounts are safe by removing administrators and editors who are no longer part of your team and also check the app permissions for services like Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. If you discover apps connected to your social platforms which you do not immediately recognise or which have stopped working, remove the permissions.

4. Test new platforms and tools: Facebook “Live”, for example, is a great new tool, but it does require some getting used to, so run tests now; you’ve got time to fine-tune matters before the busier autumn months.

5. Plan ahead: Now is the time to take an in-depth look at your hotel’s or restaurant’s social media goals and performance for 2016 so far and to plan strategies and content themes for the autumn and winter. Taking time to analyse, benchmark, and plan, always pays off in the long run.

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