While hospitality businesses could once thrive on word of mouth alone, today a strong social media presence is at the heart of any successful café, restaurant, hotel or airline. The 2015 Sensis Social Media Report showed that nearly half of consumers – and nearly 80% of those aged between 18 and 29 – access social media every single day. More shockingly, Facebook users spend an average of 8.5 hours on the site every week.
We look at some of the most successful ways that hospitality businesses can use social media to their advantage.
Firstly, business can harness the rising tendency for consumers to share what they eat, usually in the visual medium. The “eat and tweet” phenomenon has become a vital component of one’s online character. Menulog mused that we snap meals to convey our good taste and company, much like we’d capture and share a scenic holiday or a trendy gig. A 2013 study revealed that more than half of 18-24 year olds snap photos of their food, and most would post this online.
Unsurprisingly, Hospitality Magazine reports that the visual marketing of food is most successful. It is a well-known fact that we eat with our eyes, after all, and Instagram, Facebook and Twitter provide the perfect platform for hungry consumers to scour the digital landscape for their next meal.
And for the businesses themselves – consumer’s social media presence, as well as their own, can be employed for a digital word-of mouth.
Take the family-run Canberra café Patissez, for instance. You may know it instead for the infamous “Freakshake”, the loaded, diabetes-inducing monster-drink which became a national and international phenomenon last year. By producing a uniquely aesthetic and insta-worthy product, the business owners could let consumers advertise for them.
Secondly, the portrayal of real people with colourful stories is a careful strategy adopted by successful hospitality businesses. Engagement with everyday personalities – as popularised by the accounts of “Humans of New York” – has proved a popular and shareable approach. Agilent Technologies shared the below image on their Facebook page, celebrating the success of an individual employee, rather than a company. In the absence of overt product promotion, Agilent Technologies is humanised – rendered warmer and more likeable.
Some of the industry heavyweights, such as Emirates and Turkish Airlines choose a simple, yet effective method – sharing stunning scenic snapshots of their destinations, however they still invite engagement from a consumer. B2C comments that a clever hashtag such as #GuessWhere invites comment and discussion, and most importantly, the content is longterm.
Lastly, social media provides a real-time platform for dealing with feedback and complaints. The Sensis Social Media Report revealed that 62% of consumers are willing to forgive a business that responds to its negative comments. Through a 24 hour twitter feed hospitality businesses can tackle complaints transparently as they arise.
Whether a small home-run business or an international company, social media provides an accessible platform to promote ideas. If the content is eye-catching, unique and engages with real people, a smartphone is the only tool you need to start a successful hospitality business.