According to eMarketer, roughly 90% of restaurants use social media as part of their marketing strategy. The hospitality industry has wisely gotten on board with the bountiful advertising tools and opportunities social media presents. However, the benefits of new media don't stop there. You can also leverage it to improve traffic, profits, and customer service. Here are six key steps to see measurable returns on social efforts.
1. Ramp Up Your Content
If you want to improve the results of your social media marketing campaign give potential guests a reason to follow, share and like by offering valuable content. Plenty of folks know the basics when it comes to restaurant and hotel choices, but it's your job to give them more possibilities. If you can show them how to lock down a better room or get a reservation at that busy restaurant, you're much more likely to convert them into paying customers.
2. Post a Customer Survey
Another simple and cost-effective way to improve customer service is to post a survey on social media. Whether it's through Facebook, Twitter, or another outlet, give customers a chance to respond and you can usually count on unbiased results. Just keep your surveys brief and to the point. Only ask the questions you truly want answered. Ifyou don't need demographic data, for example, don't waste your time on it.
3. Take Reservations on Twitter
Consider setting up your Twitter account to accept reservations. Since many folks are active on social media, this can be an effective way to fill seats. Just be sure to have staff members on-hand who can monitor the account, confirm reservations in a timely fashion, and avoid overbooking. These staff members may want to have a copy of call-in reservations nearby for easy reference.
4. Leverage Pinterest for Photo Ops
Posting pics of stellar hotel rooms or elegant dining facilities is an excellent way to build business, which is where Pinterest fits in perfectly. Make sure images are high quality and that they strengthen the brand. It never hurts to also include photos of senior staff members or even front line employees to add a personal touch.
5. Shoot Back-of-House Videos for Instagram, YouTube, or Vine
Giving your followers an inside glimpse of what really goes on in your back-of-house operations at a restaurant or hotel kitchen is another great way to increase business and endear yourself to potential customers. A behind-the-scenes peek will give guests confidence that food is being prepared in a sanitary environment and will put you ahead of the competition.
6. Respond to Each and Every Comment
No matter what kind of comments you get on your social media profiles -- good or bad -- be sure to respond to all of them. This is especially important for complaints. Try to satisfy each customer and let that effort show potential followers that you care about your clients. Monitor accounts on your own or put someone you trust in charge of handling comments.
It never hurts to check in on your competitors from time to time and glean some social media tactics they might be using to improve their revenues, traffic, and customer service. If you see a particularly effective idea, don't –completely copy it, but rather tweak it to meet your company’s needs and appeal to your own demographic.
Mark Barry is a marketing strategist who helps companies improve their social media marketing plan and drive targeted traffic.