It’s doubtful any hotel owner in this day and age needs to be convinced of the importance of social media marketing (it isn’t 2004 anymore or even 2014). But acknowledging the need to be on social media platforms isn’t enough. You need to make sure you’re doing it right. Here are the most important social media dos and don’ts to get you started.
DO be consistent across accounts. This is (of course) essential for profile information like your address, phone number, and website URL, but it’s just as necessary for branding and messaging. Maintain common color schemes, profile pictures, and style to improve brand recognition and inspire credibility. That said, you can’t simply copy and paste each post across platforms. You need to adapt your content to the channel you’re using.
DON’T get passive. Creating an account and failing to post regularly is worse than having no account at all. Social media requires regular attention to be effective. It’s a conversation…so you have to engage. Make it easier on yourself by gathering guest data first and figuring out which platforms your customers frequent. You don’t have to be on every channel.
DO use analytics. Like any marketing strategy, you should constantly evaluate the performance of your content. Whether you utilize the features offered by social media platforms—like Facebook Insights—or third-party tools, analytics enable you to get the most out of your account. You can identify key demographics, highlight your most effective content, and determine the best time of day to post among other information.
DON’T forget to leave your mark. You spend a lot of time and energy on your social media pages, so don’t miss an opportunity to promote them. Include social media icons and handles on your website, newsletters, and other marketing collateral. You can even include them on signage around your property, for instance on a coaster.
DO include a call to action and booking links. You have your customers’ attention with your posts; now show them what you want them to do next. Facebook provides a button at the top of your page that can be linked directly to your booking engine—take advantage of it. And make sure your booking engine is mobile-friendly so customers can navigate it easily when they get there. Ninety-one percent of those on social media access it through mobile devices.
DON’T rely solely on organic reach. You may be able to catch an audience that way, but it’s significantly harder. If paid advertising makes you nervous, you don’t have to make a big, expensive commitment right away. Start slowly and keep an eye on your analytics to figure out what ads work best. You can even use retargeting ads to appeal to people who have already seen your content.
DO schedule. Use scheduling tools like Hootsuite to plan content in advance. This ensures that you’re not scrabbling at the last minute and that you don’t have any gaps. Seeing all your content in one place also helps you spot if you’re relying too much on one type of content, i.e., promotional posts.
DO be concise. People don’t visit their favorite brand’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter page to read an essay. They look for palatable content that gets to the point. Keep your posts and captions short and sweet, and your viewers are much more likely to engage.
DON’T always sell. Constant, overt advertisements annoy viewers and erode your credibility. This isn’t a shampoo commercial. Of course, you want to include some self-promotion (that’s the entire objective after all), but you need to mix it in with other content. A good rule of thumb is to limit promotional material to about 20 percent of all posts.
DO be a good listener and take advantage of UGC to enhance your reach and credibility. According to a 2019 survey, consumers are over twice as likely to claim that UGC (user generated content) is genuine compared to branded material. Implement social media campaigns with a unique hashtag to encourage users to share their content (like and share when they do) and don’t forget to ask for reviews.
DON’T neglect video. Short-form video is booming as an easy (and entertaining!) way for viewers to receive information. Ninety-one percent of consumers would like more online brand videos in 2023, and another 51 percent are likelier to share video than other kinds of content. You can create instructional videos, behind-the-scenes videos, or even a virtual reality tour of your property.
DO emphasize your unique selling proposition. There are a lot of white sand beaches on Instagram. What’s special about yours? Social media is crowded, and you have to be creative to stand out. This is where knowing your audience comes in useful; you can tailor your unique selling proposition to that audience. If you’re a family resort, talk about your kids’ club. If you’re a honeymoon resort, mention the champagne from your local vineyard. (Don’t say you’ll have champagne at the kids’ club. That’s the wrong kind of unique.)
DON’T post only about your hotel. Unless they’re on a business trip with a quick turn around, guests won’t spend their entire stay at your property. They’ve come to explore the area, so help them do that. Tell them what the local hotspots are and where to find good gelato. Talk about other businesses and share their posts; it’s useful content you don’t have to come up with yourself. And they may return the favor…
DO use quality images. People judge the quality of your property by the quality of your images; it’s another fast way for them to absorb information. Hire a professional to take some shots, or if that’s beyond the budget, at least make sure the oil stain in the parking lot gets cropped out.
DO encourage engagement. As already mentioned, social media is a dynamic and personal medium. You need to have a dialogue with your followers. Post content that encourages users to engage and make sure to respond and interact with them when they do. Many people have turned to social media for customer service (it’s more convenient than a phone call). If you can’t always get back to them right away, use an automated message with a time frame for when you will be able to respond.
DON’T ignore bad comments. Negative reviews are part of the hospitality game. Everyone gets them. To mitigate the repercussions, it’s essential you respond. Offer apologies and provide your direct contact information (in a private message) for further concerns and communication. It’ll earn your property a much stronger online reputation than simply ignoring or deleting them. Online reputation management software like Revinate and Birdeye helps to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Social media is a critical part of your marketing scope, and it will only continue to grow. Follow these fundamental best practices to make your social media accounts work for your business going forward.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published March 2018 and last updated September 2023.