There has been a lot of noise about Facebook lately, not just because of the Cambridge Analytics Scandal but also because of the new algorithm Facebook has rolled out. As a business owner it is important to understand both of these news stories, but here, I would like to give some guidance on the Algorithm and what you need to know to market your lodging better this season. The Analytics Scandal may have caused you to lose followers, but hopefully, those that chose to stay on Facebook will continue to appreciate your content. The algorithm change makes it harder to connect with your audience, but if you stay on top of the change, it could be beneficial in the end.
Lodging properties should be on Facebook as part of their direct booking strategy. Facebook is a social network that allows you to connect with your audience in a friendly and interactive way. The saying is – Facebook is for the friends you have, Twitter is for the friends you want. I chose this statement because it accurately depicts this select channel of social media. Each platform has a function and it is important to understand their strengths. Facebook was created to connect family and friends. The loveliness of friends and family is that they are loyal and will book direct. The more you can swing the pendulum to direct bookings the better your bottom line will be. It is important to understand that Facebook was not created to generate sales leads. Like all online platforms, Facebook has morphed into an advertising option. Facebook serves up a trillion Facebook ad views a month. Google has a larger reach of users, but it has lower ad views a month at 180 billion. Companies that can offer trillions and billions in views cannot be ignored by any business. A good Facebook presence would combine Facebook ads and great Facebook page content. The new algorithm that dictates what followers see has changed to make Facebook a more engaging platform. Business is rewarded for making content that encourages discussion. There are ways to do this, but first I want to point out the basics to your business page. If you aren’t already using the business page to its potential you are starting at a negative and moving into the algorithm and content discussion is fruitless.
- Update About Section. All of your business information should be up to date with an active link to your website.
- Customize the Facebook URL.
- Pin important posts to the top of the page
- Create company milestones. Create a timeline of your company’s accomplishments.
- Dynamic header and consistent branding. Make sure all your branding is consistent with your website. A dynamic header means it changes.The new thing is to add video instead of an image to the header. A good example of a video in the header is https://www.facebook.com/vinccihoteles/
- Call to Action Buttons The book now button must be installed and linked to your reservation platform. The Message button should also be activated and you should respond quickly. Check-in button is also important.
- Photos – Lots and lots of photos. Always optimize with text.
- Posts with good content and good photos. The first 18 words of a post is a meta title. A meta title gives search engines a description to search for. It is very important to optimize all text in Facebook.
- Create tabs on your business page. Have tabs for items such as YouTube, Twitter, offers, events, and community.
- If you have a business app, Facebook should be linked to it.
The above list is the basics, there are more sophisticated features such as messenger, payments and Facebook apps. I mention these because the Facebook algorithm change encourages you to utilize the more sophisticated tools. You will need to create a mixed basket of features to rise in the new Facebook algorithm. The mix of items you chose will have to encourage followers to engage with your posts and if you are a lodging, it would be ideal if they also book direct.
Items you will need to include in your new Facebook Strategy:
- Video – There are lots of apps out there now to help you create and edit video. One recommended app is VideoShop. Lodging properties should video the guest rooms, the property, the breakfast area and downtown. Fun videos can be made about breakfast items and area activities.
- Start to think about the types of people who are interested in your property. Do you own a historic house or is it cutting edge architecture? Try to connect with people who truly love what you have and cater to those with your posts. Is your property known for the breakfast specials? Make foodie videos and start conversations that foodies will engage with. Remember the content has to be written like you are starting a conversation with a friend that you have a common interest with. Sales driven posts are not encouraged. You are creating a common interest community that will hopefully appreciate your brand and then book directly.
- You can still use links to your website, but not as often. The links will have to be part of your mix with video and engaging posts.
- Respond. Respond to every comment on a post. Your fans will appreciate that you responded and your page will feel more alive.
- Get creative. Put audio and podcasts into the mix of posts.
These suggestions in combination with a Facebook ad campaign will help keep you relevant in the Facebook world. If your revenue strategy includes direct bookings, Facebook is an important part of that process. My suggestion is to make time each week for this endeavor, which can be fun for you, or you can hire a freelance assistant. Competing with the Online Travel Agents is a hard job. Online Travel Agents have many resources to get in front of your customer and sell your rooms faster than you can. But, one thing OTA’s do not have is the spirit of your brand that only your voice can bring to a Facebook post. With social media, you can showcase the spirit that makes you special. Harvest what makes you special, create engaging posts and people will want to book directly and experience your property.