My Facebook Fall from Grace

by Susan on March 14, 2014

WTF2I started getting itchy about Facebook last September.  I noticed that reach (how many people see a given post on Facebook) was declining for my hotel clients, and following the rules I had followed for years wasn’t making it better.  I had my own – possibly paranoid – theories about how Facebook was tweaking its magical formula that controls who sees what.  I guessed that Facebook was trying to force businesses to buy ads, and the change made me contemplate a major strategic shift.

I’ve always been a believer giving your hotel’s fans funny, interesting, and unusual content would result in Facebook’s Holy Trinity of Engagement:  Likes, Comments, and Shares.  The harder we worked on great content, the more fans would flock to a hotel’s business page.  In short, I trusted that following the commandments of Facebook marketing would allow the hotels I work with to reap great rewards in the hereafterAnd it did, for a long time.

When articles started to pop up confirming my concern, I realized I wasn’t imagining things.  Other marketers agreed that Facebook had made it harder for businesses to actually reach the audiences they worked hard to build.  The response ranged from acceptance to outrage to everything in between.  Facebook made a formal announcement on January 21.

Here’s the bottom line: Facebook manages who sees which posts using their “secret formula.”  They always have, and they’ve always made it harder on business pages.  A hotel had to keep its fans engaged in order to be seen on Facebook because the more an audience engaged with content, the more people would see it.

I’ve always advocated that hotels invest 50% – 75% of their social media resources in Facebook.  The Hive Marketing social media package placed a heavy emphasis on Facebook, and our results indicated that this was the best way for hotels to market socially.

Until now.

Now, unless you purchase paid advertisements on Facebook, only a small portion of your audience ever sees your content – no matter how good it is.  (In this article, Facebook makes the case for marketers to spend more on ads to make up for lost reach.)

So, how do we get around this?  How do we play nicely in the Facebook sandbox?

Hotels can no longer count on content marketing alone to produce results from social media. Here’s what you can do instead.

Step One: Answer these questions to determine whether you need to maintain or grow.

  1. Do you have 400+ guestrooms?
  2. Do you have amenities like golf or spa?
  3. Are you under construction?
  4. Have you recently changed flags or completed a major renovation?
  5. Are your owners particularly focused on social media, especially fan and follower counts?

If you answered “Yes” to one or more of these questions, your hotel’s social media strategy should be in Growth Mode.  Large hotels, hotels with multiple revenue streams, and hotels in transition have a lot to gain from investing in social media.

On the other hand, hotels that serve the suburban business niche, are well-established in their markets, and have fewer than 400 rooms need to maintain a social media presence.  Your hotel should be out there, but your social media strategy can stay in Maintenance Mode and be lower on your priority list.

Step Two: Set your strategy for growth or maintenance.

Growth Mode:

  • Post on Facebook and Twitter daily.
  • Hold contests or promotions.
  • Advertise on Facebook.
  • Create accounts on both Pinterest AND Instagram and post or pin daily.
  • Spend time each day checking your sites for customer service opportunities.
  • Review your stats on a frequent basis.

Maintenance Mode:

  • Post on Facebook and Twitter several times a week.
  • Set up either an Instagram account OR a Pinterest account (not both), and spend time each day posting or pinning fresh content.
  • Spend time each day checking your sites for customer service opportunities.

Step Three: Decide how much time you can devote to social media on property.

  • In Growth Mode, your hotel will need to devote between ten and 15 hours a week to social media.
  • In Maintenance Mode, your hotel needs to spend about five hours a week on it.

Step Four:  Determine who can best implement your strategy.

If you’ve got a hotel-based resource that can spend the time needed, you should invest in some training for that person and then get them busy.

If you don’t, consider outsourcing all or part of your social media work to us.

I offer a complimentary no-obligation consultation.  Call me at 404.964.5765 or email susan.barry@hive-marketing.com for a time to talk.  For training, strategy, and outsourcing packages, take a look at our Hotel Social Media Packages.

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