Is Social Media Overrated?
I answered that possibly a hotel can not afford to miss out on the opportunity and that it might be a “necessary evil”, similar to using OTA’s as a hotel’s billboard and when using such channels paying commissions for reservations.
That discussion brought me to the above question. I personally feel that like any tool, social media has its pros and cons. But how far stretches its relevance? Is it so that word of mouth can make or break a brand in the social media space? Is it so, that consumers have more power than ever, and that power grows with every follower, fan page and blog?
In my opinion, social media is just another way of connecting – a channel, which cannot replace the value of human interaction, so intrinsically important for the hospitality industry. Sure, social media in itself is powerful – it is significantly affecting the way we interact, but “social media” needs to be taken with a little nuance in approaching, while integrating with other tools and channels. So, it requires answering some basic questions, not any different of other marketing tool:
- “Who are you trying to reach”?
- “Is the channel appropriate for the segment”?
- “What are the objectives of your social media activities?”
When done correctly, social media allows hoteliers to target more effectively than ever before in reaching a greater, relevant population. Its viral capacity at a – in principle – lower cost than conventional media is a great benefit, besides offering the possibility of converting (potential) guests into loyal, vocal advocates. The instant feedback of social media allows for highly dynamic, interactive marketing campaigns and opportunity for improvement in servicing our guests.
In an earlier post I already referred, that there still a lot is in the dark with respect to a hotel’s ROI as we are still writing the book and little referencing material to benchmark. Having said this, when being clear on targeting, telling a hotel’s story, in actively listening and by constant measuring, I am confident that Social Media is a vital and effective part of any successful modern hospitality business.
Every day social media represents a larger and larger audience and it should be incorporated as a specific channel in a diverse marketing mix. I would argue that if anything, social media is underrated as a marketing tool and efforts can bring measurably positive results. Examples are out there, although not (yet?) in the hotel industry e.g. Ford, Old Spice and Starbuck’s just to name a few.
What do you feel? Share your thoughts and experiences here!