We all know social media is a powerful tool to gain exposure and we use these channels as a great way of researching different hotels and venues. We’ve recently been asked our thoughts on what we feel Venues could be doing to enhance their online exposure within our industry…
What strategies have you seen work effectively to maximise online exposure for venues?
There are so many strategies and they all work effectively in their own way depending on their objective and target audience. B2C audiences will be driven by competitions. I’ve seen some campaigns where venues have encouraged followers to share their post with a chance to win a free night stay (or equivalent). This is a fantastic initiative to build up a follower base and engagement with your social channels as they’ll be wanting as many followers as possible as it’s of interest to a wide audience.
However, for their B2B audience this isn’t as an effective initiative as their messaging should be different to attract corporate meeting and event planners. They won’t be driven by competitions (where more often than not company policy won’t allow them to accept prizes), they’ll be more driven by business messaging including venue updates that’s going to make their day-to-day job easier in sourcing venues for their next meeting or event.
Which platforms do you feel benefit venues the most?
Different platforms benefit different venues depending on their overall objectives and their target audience. Social media is used very differently depending on whether you’re targeting a B2B or B2C audience. Instagram and Facebook are effective for a B2C market and is a great way of promoting special offers and competitions. On the other hand, if venues are wanting to promote their corporate meeting space, their target audience is more likely to be found on LinkedIn or Twitter where they’ll be doing their research and seeking advice.
Corporate meeting and event organisers will be connected with a professional network through LinkedIn as opposed to their ‘friends’ on Facebook. This network is a trusted community with similar interests and where they can support in meeting their business objectives.
From your experience which social media channel do you find the most useful in attracting new clients?
As an agent, our preferred channel for attracting new clients is LinkedIn. As individuals and as a business we’re able to connect with our existing clients and suppliers to build our own community. By sharing regular and relevant updates to our community will not only keep existing clients informed on our latest activity and if they comment or share on these updates, will reach a wider audience outside of our network.
This is not only a fantastic way in building brand awareness of the company, but also builds a strong reputation for our employees who share our content by demonstrating their knowledge and expertise within the industry.
LinkedIn groups is also an effective tool in building your brand awareness. By being able to post content directly into groups with a similar interest means your messages are targeted to a specific audience. The content in these groups shouldn’t be of a ‘sales’ message as that tends to put people off, people are interested more in advice/trends/human interest related articles. We recently published a post on ‘Life of an Event Manager’ into various LinkedIn groups and in one group received over 400 likes and comments. Because the nature of the article was of human interest, our audience related to it and therefore more inclined to engage with the post.
What can larger companies do to best support their venues at a national level?
You need to build confidence with your employees to be able to share their own updates effectively. We will always send a business message through our social channels and then encourage our employees to share this post with their own personal message to their own networks. As a relatively small company with all employees based in one office, it’s easier to control what individuals are posting, and support and guide them in what they should/shouldn’t be posting. We’ve built this confidence with our employees by providing social media training sessions and ongoing support from our marketing consultant to ensure our messaging supports the tone and language of the company but allowing their personality to come through.
However, Venues and Events International is not a national brand with multiple offices so easier to manage centrally. For venues with multiple properties I imagine this is much harder to control and will have a different approach to their social media messaging. At a group level they’ll want to ensure consistency in their messaging between their different hotels so to have group-controlled accounts will allow for this uniformity however this does limit the personality of the individual hotels to come through.
Personality is key to venues though, and they should be given the authority to manage their own accounts and I believe this can be achieved on a national level by having ‘social media champions’ in each of the locations. These champions can be given sufficient training and then the authority to manage their individual hotel/venue accounts. Social media should be used as a channel to promote the ‘here and now’. By having to send photos and content via their head office can delay in the speed of content going out and may miss opportunities engaging with their audience effectively.
What can venues do themselves to improve local exposure?
If given the authority to manage their own social accounts, venues can run local competitions and get involved with community events to show their support to the local area. They’ll also be able to promote special delegate rates for the B2B audience that are bespoke to them and target specific local agents or companies that will be interested in their offering.
What are the common mistakes you see regularly?
It’s not necessarily a mistake, more ‘missing a trick’. I’ve spoken a lot about importance of portraying the personality and individuality of venues and where they’re not given this authority does restrict what we as agents can do to promote them. We’re regularly holding events, going out on site inspections to hundreds of properties a year and we love to tweet about our experiences. When we can’t tag a particular property into our tweet, we feel we’re not able to give them the recognition they deserve and harder to promote to our own follower base as they can’t link straight through to the property to find out more themselves.