Now that people can connect to the internet almost anywhere they go, more and more of your guests will want your Wi-Fi password simply to upload photos to Instagram of themselves having a great time at your B&B, or to write a tweet that ends with #BestHoliday
With so many people on social media, it’s no surprise that brands want to jump right into the middle of the conversations happening on there for promotional opportunities. Once you have a solid fan base, your social media page can be a great way to keep in contact with guests who have stayed with you, as well as give you the chance to publicise your business to new customers.
1. What are the benefits?
Before delving into how to grow a social media following for your business, it’s good to know what the benefits are. For starters, it’s a great way to meet potential customers! Someone might see your establishment pop up on a friend’s newsfeed, and then head over to your page where they can get to know you and your business better.
You can also give existing fans and customers better experiences, from answering a question in a matter of moments, to enticing them to visit your B&B; this might involve organising a competition and asking them to take part online.
2. Which social media platforms should I spend my time on?
With so many socials out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Our advice is to pick a minimum of two and update them regularly. Which platform you chose is entirely up to you! Try and get a feel for the ones you feel more comfortable with and which suit your business needs the most. A Facebook page is a good bet, as you can put everything all in one place, such as directions, a map, your menu and contact information. Instagram is great for sharing photos of your property, which is great for prospective guests to see images of your property before deciding to book. Twitter is a useful platform for keeping in touch with brands and local businesses, replying to customer queries and following updates in your local area.
3. How to get the word out
When setting up social media profiles from scratch, how can you begin to reach out to the right people and channel their initial interest into actual engagement?
It can be easier than you might think to create a fan base on social media. For starters, it’s definitely an advantage to get a few initial followers to help get the ball rolling. Ask friends, family and staff to like your Facebook page, or follow you on Twitter and Instagram. If you have an email newsletter, or any other method to keep in touch with your guests, why not include your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram handle in your next email newsletter and ask them to click on the link and follow you? Be sure to include your social media pages on your business cards and any other marketing materials, too!
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4. Follow industry names & influencers
People can often miss a trick by not following travel industry influencers, such as bloggers, photographers and tourism organisations. These people are employed to report on trends in the travel industry, so they’re always on the lookout for new and interesting properties and destinations to stay at, write about, photograph or recommend to others. In particular, follow your local tourism board, as they want to boost local tourism and will be happy to offer publicity to help local businesses like yours.
5. Photography is a must
Once you’ve got your first few followers (congratulations!), you can begin to encourage them to get to know your business better, as well as increase your fan base. To do this, you’ll need to start creating engaging and shareable content for social media profiles. Photos are a great place to start, showcasing the beauty of your establishment and the area around it, or even a selection of mouth-watering dishes from your menu.
Adding photos to your Facebook posts has been proven to encourage more users to like or share your posts. This means that when someone shares your photo, all of their friends will see it too. If other users see your business and its surroundings in all their glory, their friends might see the photos and decide that they’d like to come and see it for themselves! If you need help, read our guide on how to market your B&B with quality photos.
6. Ask your followers a question
You can also directly encourage users to engage with you, for example by posing questions such as: “If you could add one dish to our menu, what would it be?” When a user replies, you can then reply to them and thank them for their input. This helps users to build trust with your brand, and recreate a human interaction in an online setting.
7. Use appropriate hashtags
On Twitter and Instagram especially, hashtags are a good way of making a topic searchable online. Using #B&B and your location with your posts might help guests find your content and it may encourage them to book with you. Some trending topics could apply to you, and so you can use the hashtag to join a national or even global conversation, which could raise your profile to potential guests or tourism organisations.
8. Competition time!
Another good idea is to set up competitions on your social media profiles. This could be anything you like – a half price weekend stay perhaps? The prize of the competition is completely up to you – you’ll have to gauge the price of the prize against how many entries you think you’ll receive. For example, do you offer the expensive prize of a two-night stay to lure in as many entries as you can? Or do you offer 50% off afternoon tea, as an inexpensive option? Offer your prize and ask people to share to enter, which will raise awareness for your brand among your followers and maybe even your followers’ followers. Then award the prize and make a big deal about it online so people know it really happened!
To sum up, social media is a great way to put your guesthouse in front of more and more people every day, from both the UK and further afield. It’s also the perfect place to get chatting to your guests before they arrive and keep in touch with them after they’ve had a great stay! So, be social media savvy and it might just pay off!
Managing the social media side of your business could take up a lot of your time, but eviivo can help you save time with our award-winning hotel booking software, designed to make life as easy as possible for independent hoteliers and property owners.