INNOVATE: Getting the most out of Facebook

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Digital marketing consultant Carole Luck shares branding opportunities and explains new rules that could benefit boutique hotels on facebook

As the world’s largest social media network, boasting more than one billion users, Facebook is the network which is usually the first to be adopted by businesses wanting to reach consumers.

Understandably, many boutique hotels have recognised the need for a Facebook presence but are they using this tool to best advantage? Establishing a Facebook page is relatively simple to achieve but making it work for any business is the challenge.

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As with Twitter, you must ‘listen with your eyes’ to understand what other businesses and brands — including hotels — are doing on Facebook to engage with customers.

Brand right
Facebook provides every business with a superb branding opportunity via tools like the cover photo, the profile image and custom tabs.

Check out Red Carnation Hotels (RCH) on Facebook (Facebook.com/redcarnationhotels, 7799 likes) — a collection of sixteen luxury boutique hotels. You will see its logo sits nicely in the profile-image box and, to the right, visitors can easily spot the

RCH Collection branded-app icon. Click on this app icon and, subsequently, any of the profiles within this collection of boutique hotels and you’ll discover an excellent use of branded Facebook pages. For example, The Rubens Hotel (facebook.com/rubenshotel, 1978 likes) proudly displays the royal connection of its unique location opposite Buckingham Palace.

The Facebook cover photo enables a property to refresh its page easily, be seasonal and show more of its offering. Research in September revealed that The Berkeley (facebook.com/theberkeleyhotel, 3953 likes) had changed its cover photo mid-August, at the height of summer, to show off its rooftop pool which has panoramic views across the capital — tempting last-minute bookings for the central London hotel.

Follow the rules
In March 2013, Facebook relaxed its cover-photo rules about allowing telephone numbers, website addresses and calls to action and in July it appeared to relax its 20% text rule which had insisted on no more than 20% of text in a cover photo.

Even a limited budget should be able to stretch to new graphics for Facebook covers, involve your design agency and look at what others are doing. VisitBritain (Facebook.com/LoveGreatBritain, 1.9m likes) introduces different cover photos regularly to reflect the changes in the UK regions it represents. Similarly, VisitLondon creates unique and relevant cover photos for its fans (facebook.com/visitlondon, 134,398 likes).

Changing cover photos will appear in your fans’ news feeds and be seen as activity by Facebook’s recently-updated algorithm, formerly known as EdgeRank. All social media networks thrive on fresh, relevant postings plus, no matter how many fans you attract, the Facebook algorithm will select which fans see your latest post in their news feeds.

Engage fans
Competitions have always been a popular way to engage Facebook fans and another recent rule change allows businesses to run competitions without installing an app. However, Facebook-approved apps continue to have an advantage as they enable the collection of customer data. Online competitions, particularly those on Facebook, can have the potential to go viral and, therefore, quickly extend the reach of your brand; so be innovative and catch the imagination of your fans.

In September, the award-winning Feversham Arms (Facebook.com/fevershamarmshotel, 1892 likes) launched what it called the first “Online Who Done It”. Promoted via Twitter and Facebook, it ticks the engagement box and has the potential to drive visitor traffic to the hotel website.

Facebook, like the other social networks, is now commonly referred to as earned media — appearing to be free but demanding creative and time resources to earn customer engagement, message sharing and brand reach.


FACEBOOK CHECKLIST

• Listen constantly to your customers and your competitors
• Review your cover photo and profile image (logo opportunity) to ensure they’re both on message — involve your design agency
• Have a Facebook activity plan and engage daily with your fans, respond to posts
• Have relevant and interesting content — consider competitions and video
• Keep up to speed with Facebook changes at facebook.com/fbforbusiness

Follow @caroleluck on Twitter

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