Why Social Media Belongs on the Balcony

By Balcony Media Group | On Mar. 24, 2013

We increased one of our client hotel’s Facebook fan base by 50%, from 1,122 likes on the day we started to 1,683 likes 55 days later. That boost, over the course of two months, is equivalent to the number of fans the hotel had garnered over the previous two years.

How did we do this? By running a contest in accordance with Facebook’s stringent guidelines, and by posting content that streams from the content development and media outreach we’re conducting for these clients.

And not only did the fans who joined for the contest (and did not win) stick around, but new ‘likes’ on the page continued to climb on top of the numbers of lingering contest participants. ‘Come for the contest, stay for the content.’ That was our strategy.

From start to finish we focused on the fans’ needs, and how the contest would benefit them. After the contest was over, we continued to talk in terms of what would interest visitors. We offered useful insights. We asked how we could help enhance their time in the destination.

These tactics work. The hotel is gaining 40 new fans per week, post-contest, compared to an average of 22 new fans per month before the contest.

So where is the intersection between running successful contests, holding onto fans and public relations?

These two elements – knowledge of the tools at hand and the ability to build lasting relationships – form the core of one the biggest questions the hospitality industry has had to answer in recent years: To whom should we give the responsibility of talking directly to customers on the planet’s most visible, widely-discussed outlets?

Put this way, it’s not a stretch to say this power is already vested in your PR branch. But maybe, after hearing for the nth time that ‘the rules have all been rewritten’ you’re not so sure. In other words, you’re thinking of trusting your IT, marketing or sales department to manage key communications activities.
Social media is your window display; not the cashier counter. Treating social media as a sales channel is one of the worst mistakes a property can make -- as bad as having hawker stalls set up in your spa.

We have a mantra in media outreach that is equally applicable to social media outreach: It’s more important to tell your reader what they want to hear, than it is to tell them what you want to say.

Public relations’ long-standing assumption that the customer is in control paves the way for fruitful online interactions. As any expert will tell you, the  discovery phase, though hard to quantify, is essential to the process. When it comes to using social media as a marketing tool, you’ll go further if you switch the focus from conversions to conversations.

If Balcony is your agency, you know we’re already holding conversations about your property in other arenas, real and virtual. We understand and have maybe even written your messaging. We create and collect the content you want people to know about. We understand the accountability that comes with the job, have helped refine your voice and have insight into your targets. Trained in reputation management? Check. Familiar with social media tools? Check. Experience in writing and communicating? In the bag.

Most importantly, we understand that the only way to build lasting relationships online is to remain sensitive to what your audience needs. We work hard to offer value; and the goal of all this is to be invited into the circle, which is so much more effective than trying to invade it.  

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