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Advising the hotel industry how to increase their online revenue

Search Marketing or Display Ads: the Facebook case

Ok, forget what I said about display ads if it comes to Facebook!

I’ve just seen a blog today saying that Facebook is now the most popular social media site in the UK. Facebook has definitely made a lot of headway if it comes to advertising after much critique about their business model last year. On Econsultancy today the question is asked: Are marketers moving their Google search dollars to Facebook’s display ad business?

While this may be a bit over the top at the moment, the advantages of running display ad campaigns on Facebook are obvious. People voluntarily share information about themselves which enables marketers to target their ads much more precisely. Facebook has increased its market share and manages to engage its users more than other social media sites such as MySpace. Moreover, there is still less advertisers competing with you on Facebook than on Google AdWords and both systems are auction-based.

Research has shown, however that local advertisers are much more successful than large companies. The latter are often seenby Facebook users as being intrusive. People value information about local offers and events while they feel annoyed when they come across the same banner advertising on their community site – which they regard their private space – as they see everywhere else on the web.

For hotels, Facebook could therefore be a brilliant opportunity to advertise to the local market: meeting space, weddings, events and F&B, like those numerous Christmas parties and brunches and lunches coming up. Think about it!

Filed under: Display/Banner Marketing, Social Media Marketing, , , , , , , , , , ,

New: Google Sidewiki – Chance or Curse for Hotel Marketers?

Google has just launched it’s new product Sidewiki as part of the Google toolbar. With Sidewiki people can leave their comments on any website, page or part of the site’s content.
It has to be seen how popular the product will be, since one has to be using the Google toolbar and logged into their account in order to comment. However, it is certainly going to have an impact on hotel and tourism online marketing strategies.

Google Sidewiki

Google Sidewiki

Negative comments won’t be tucked away on community and special interest sites like Tripadvisor anymore but can be found alongside your brand or individual hotel website, exactly in the very spot where you are trying very hard to convert a website visitor into a booker. Sidewiki could also be open to abuse by competitors, of course.
Sounds like Sidewiki could become quite a curse for hotel and tourism marketers. But why not see it as a chance as well? After all, if your product convinces and people leave positive comments, this may just tip an undecided visitor over and make them book.

Like most things in life this innovation has advantages and disadvantages and you can see the glass as being half full or half empty. I think, Google Sidewiki is just another step towards the truly transparent and collaborative web. Use it wisely!

More information and download Google Sidewiki.

Filed under: Hotel Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, , , , ,

What is Online Reputation Management?

After SEO, SEM and other abbreviations you’ve had to learn in online marketing, here comes another one: ORP – Online Reputation Management. But what exactly does it mean?

Most people and companies now have profiles on many social media sites: Facebook, Trip Advisor, Twitter, YouTube to name but a few. Often, posts on those sites are being picked up by Google. For example, did you know that your Amazon wishlist can be found in Google and usually ranks quite high? Just google yourself and see. Having so much information about you or your business on the web can pose a problem. Disappointed customers, an angry ex-partner or friends can post blogs and photos that portray you or your business in a negative light. This week’s BBC fast:track programme talks about exactly that:

‘Over the past decade, travel review websites have become a primary source of travel information, especially as the web has grown. Rajan Datar investigates this trend and looks into their vulnerability to deception. Fake posts, biased reviews and intentionally negative comments to rivals have become common, as well as questions about the kind of people who post reviews. fast:track talks to industry professionals including a traditional guide writer and the Director of Trip Advisor.’

Watch video

ORP is the attempt to control hotel review sites, travel blogs and consumer-generated content in the modern world of Web 2.0. Some companies have been offering solutions for a while, e.g.: Hotel Protect by TIG Global.

The other option is doing ORP yourself, for example by setting up Google alerts or run Twitter searches but managing hundreds of profiles could be overwhelming.

It is still early days for many hotels or chains but with Web 2.0 becoming ever more important for the success of your online marketing, I am sure ORP will have to be an element of your marketing mix in future.

Filed under: Hotel Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, , , , , , , , , ,

Is Twitter trying to compete with Google?

Tweet this
Tweet this

Twitter has just launched a new home page with a prominent search feature:

New Twitter Home Page promoting search

New Twitter home page promoting search

Is Twitter trying to compete with Google?

There has been talk about Twitter as a search engine for a while and it is already used as such, for example by journalists and marketers, to discover the latest trends. While Google’s News results are pretty up-to-date, they are also mainstream, i.e. news provided by the big agencies and newspapers. Twitter, however, is a social media site and therefore shows what people in the street consider news. In that sense Twitter certainly offers something Google cannot provide at the moment and fills a niche.

Trends, i.e. topics that have been tweeted about most during the last 24 hours, are listed underneath the search box on the new home page. Both, the prominent search box and list of trends will probably attract new users when they find topics that are of interest to them.

So, yes Twitter seams to be aiming for expansion and could well compete with traditional search engines in a web 2.0 world. Even more reason to use Twitter to promote your hotel. But don’t just be there – have a plan!

Filed under: Hotel Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, , , , , , , ,

Special Guide for businesses getting started on Twitter

Twitter has released a simple guide for businesses getting started with micro-blogging: Twitter 101 Special Guide

This guide won’t tell you well-kept secrets of social media marketing but is an easy-to-follow introduction to using Twitter. It explains how to set up a Twitter account and where to put essential information about your business. It also tells you how to find people you would want to follow and how to reach out to followers of your tweets. The ‘Learn the lingo’ section contains jargon from RT to hashtags and is very useful for beginners. ‘Best practices’ is particularly useful to figure out your Twitter strategy since it may give you ideas for promotions etc. It also teaches you about the tone to use for your tweets and how to avoid spamming. Finally, there is a section with ‘Case Studies’.

If your hotel/chain is not on Twitter yet, this basic guide will get you started.
But please remember to define your strategy:

Social Media: don’t just be there – have a plan!

Filed under: Social Media Marketing, , , , , , ,

First hotel meta search engine to utilize Facebook friend reviews

The US meta search engine hotelicopter.com is the first such engine to connect to Facebook for hotel reviews.

This is a big step. For the first time people will be able to see their friends’ hotel recommendations rather than rely on reviews of strangers – which, to be honest, could have been manipulated as happened in the famous Carribean Cruises scandal earlier this year.

With Facebook Connect, Facebook users can easily log into hotelicopter.com using their already existing Facebook account. This way, they instantly connect to friends that are using hotelicopter. People can then rate hotels and share their ratings with friends on Facebook.

helicopter.com is a meta travel search engine and searches over 30 leading travel sites. When people conduct a hotel search on hotelicopter.com, recommendations from their friends are brought up. Once you have decided on a hotel, hotelicopter.com displays what that hotel would cost if you booked on all those different travel sites.

The new concept of meta search and Facebook friend reviews helps people choose the best hotel for their stay and book it for the best available rate. It’s a brilliant combination, utilizing the trust already established between friends and taking hotel reviews one step further.

Filed under: Social Media Marketing, , , , ,

How does viral marketing work?

I undertook a small experiment a few weeks ago during the thunderstorm over Berlin. I posted a photo of the storm onto Twitter and other profile pages of social networking sites and wanted to see how much attention it gets. Remember, this was just a pic of an event that occurs quite frequently but only seconds after posting about 40 people had viewed it. The number of viewers got another push when a local newspaper returned my tweet and therefore published the photo to their followers. I’m proud to announce that the number of viewers has reached 170! Plus, the local paper is following me on Twitter.

This is a very good example of viral marketing and how social media marketing works. Exposure is generated by people sending on or repeating your message to their friends or contacts. You have probably heard of pyramide schemes before – very recently in the news was the fraud case of Bernard Madoff – or I’m sure you have received chain letters by snail or email. Viral marketing very much follows the same principle but in the positive sense of people wanting to inform their friends about the news. If a message is not interesting enough to be passed on, it won’t happen. There usually is no incentive or threat to retweet a message other than compelling content. Now imagine using that for business!

You need to have a story, though because that is what it is all about – having a conversation with people. When reading someone’s tweets or Facebook status updates we don’t normally think of them as institutions or corporations but we think of them as individuals whom we do trust more. What a chance for businesses that use Web 2.0 and viral marketing effectively!

Filed under: Social Media Marketing, Viral Marketing, , , , , , , , , ,

Social Media: don’t just be there – have a plan!

Even though this is meant for restaurants, I’m sure it applies to hotel marketing, too. The main point being that you actually think about how to use Twitter and Facebook before you start using them. Don’t just create accounts because everyone else has one!

It should be pretty easy to determine your target audience and choose the networks accordingly since, contrary to common believe, not everyone is on Twitter.

Finding interesting topics and keep the updates coming might be slightly harder. Tip number 2 from the article is essential – do some research before starting! Set up a research system for permanent use (for example using Google Alerts). This would also enable you to respond to tweets in the way another blog describes it: Twitter’s Real Value Is In Personal Connections. Responding to tweets is very important because Twitter and Facebook are conversational and not just one-way.

Be visual! The number of tweets can be enormous when you follow more than a dozen tweeters. The most compellent tweets are those that have a link to click on which opens up more information or even better shows an image. Images make it personal, people love looking at them and they will also remember visual information better than a plain message.

I also like point 5 in the article, to create brand ambassadors. Let’s be fair, there is quite a lot of work involved in keeping social media marketing afloat and it’s taking up resources. So, if you can find people who are passionate about your brand, utilize them.

Whatever you do with social media – and the possibilities are endless – do have a plan first! Not only so you know what you are doing but also so that you can put the necessary resources into place to enable you to sustain your effort.

Filed under: Social Media Marketing, , , , , ,

About me

Corinna Witt : e-commerce, hotel internet marketing expert for hotels and the travel industry

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