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Advising the hotel industry how to increase their online revenue

What is the link between social media and search behavior?

GroupM Search and comScore just released the results of a study examining the relationship between social media exposure and search behavior.

Consumers were divided into 3 segments. Segment 1 was only exposed to a brand’s paid search. Segment 2 was exposed to social media, relevant to a brand’s category and segment 3 was influenced by social media that was specific to a brand.

Search behavior was broken into segments, based on the stage of the purchase funnel queries are made. Upper-funnel terms are usually more generic and express awareness and consideration, whereas lower-funnel terms express action and loyalty.

The findings were that consumers who searched AND engaged with social media were far more likely to search for lower-funnel terms. This was particularly the case when they belonged to group 2 and used social media exposed to a brand. In fact, these consumers were 2.8 times more likely to search for that brand’s products than consumers from group 1 that were only exposed to paid search.

Even though marketers have suspected this trend, the study supports and validates those assumptions for the first time. An estimated 50% increase in click-through rates occurred when consumers had been exposed to brand influenced social media as well as paid search. While generic keywords at the top of the funnel are popular, consumers use social media to change their mind on the products and services they would consider buying further down the decision process.

For brands this is a great opportunity to influence consumer discussions about their products and services using social media, although the challenge will be understanding how to allocate budgets between social media and paid search.

Read the comScore press release.

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Filed under: Search Engine Marketing - SEM, , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , ,

About me

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

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