Hotels using Social Media in Mauritius

I’ve gotten acquainted with Social Media over these last 6 years while practising online marketing for my holiday rentals agency Isla-Mauricia. I use it on a regular basis to present Mauritius and our offers and I tried a lot of approaches to increase my follower base and engagement with fans. I’ve learned along the way things that work, things that don’t work and developed a passion for this arena. One of my favourite tools remains Google+ and Twitter. Especially on Google+ the hangout sessions with professionals from whom you can learn a lot and directly chat with them is an awesome experience. I do not neglect Facebook which one cannot ignore amongst various other social media platforms which has proven itself for us to be the ideal platform in reaching out to our fans in France which would be practically impossible on Google+. Each social media platform has its specificities and what you can do on Facebook you might not similarly be able to do on Google+ nor have similar results. They all require their time for you to understand how you can use it to present your business and achieve engagement with your followers, gain new followers and new customers! And country wise follower bases also vary, in some countries a large amount of the population will use more Facebook while in others they might be using other platforms. Behold that social media differs from SEO (search engine optimisation), SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and things like running an adwords campaign on Google. I will not write about SEO, SEM, and Adwords in this article.

Discovering Social Media, spending time on it, has made me realise that it is huge, it is not something where you become an expert overnight, nor one year; even if you are a heavy user. It also depends what are you doing on social media? Being an avid private user doesn’t guarantee you yet to be an excellent advocate for a company in public.
You really need to learn, study from the experts, engage with them to learn how it works. Its a never ending learning process and the moment where you think you know Social Media, you will be surprised that you might just have hit the tip of the Ice Berg!

Social Media Brandsphere by Brian Solis and JESS3

Social Media Brandsphere by Brian Solis and JESS3 | Picture source from Wikimedia & Flickr

More and more companies are getting on board of Social Media, to connect with their customers, raise awareness of their brand and acquire new customers. A company nowadays should definitely have a fan page on Facebook. Social Media is not just the posting of a picture, some texts with some links and that’s it. It is also a tool to engage with people. Things go fast on social media and happen instantly. What your clients are saying or address to you shouldn’t be ignored. These are real people communicating with you. If they do, it means they are also interested in your product and also act as ambassadors spreading the word and making your company more popular. There is a lot you can achieve on social media! A small company can grow big through social media without necessarily having a huge budget.

For many private individuals, buying and selling second hand stuff and new is something they are accustomed and it works on social media websites, such as Facebook. To buy and sell something on Facebook you need to access groups which address specific niches. For example if you want to buy/sell a bike, you join a bike group. This is how I recently sold my bicycle. What I was impressed is that even though after several weeks, I was still getting enquiries which finally lead me to an interested buyer who took the bike. It is better to avoid using groups that have become to big because your post will easily drown amongst mass posts. It works best to target precisely, though you can also post your offer in various groups such as general buying and selling groups to get more attention. This is a simple introduction and example that social media works, not only to keep connected with friends but also to perform business transactions.

Social Media is a vast topic and there are various approaches a company can start its marketing campaigns on these platforms. While I also wish to add that a company shouldn’t use social media for the mere purpose of marketing! It is also in your responsibility to be within reach for your customers and those that have questions about your brand/offers etc. Some clients might also wish to express their experiences with YOU. Social Media is a tool that you should offer them so that they can.
Social Media platforms also offer small companies the possibility to start with a very small budget when it comes to ads. You can still have success on social media without necessarily injecting a heavy budget right in the beginning. You can have an interesting campaign with results as from $10 a day on Facebook.

Hotels using Social Media in Mauritius

I have noticed that more and more resorts in Mauritius are starting to have their presence made aware of on various social media platforms. While doing that I have also noticed that many of these managed accounts have become prey to the pitfalls of social media. Here are a few tips I would give to Hotels in Mauritius when practising social media.

Recruiting a social media manager in Mauritius
When you recruit a social media manager, you need to recruit the …BEST. Hotel Groups in Mauritius have no excuse in saving on social media or handing this as a side task to someone within their establishment. YOU; exclusive 5 star hotel groups of Mauritius have built over these last +30 years an image of luxury and excellency of the island around the globe in using traditional media. Don’t destroy what you have built with amateurism on social media and your online presence, learn to maintain it and benefit from the momentum that Social Media has to offer you by delivering the very best.

Work with someone that is passionate by social media and who keeps learning and progressing in this arena on their own. You shouldn’t recruit someone who is by your opinion a good copy writer that would do well in social media or comes from a different background or who says so that it’s easily handled. Then you’ll loose to much time in training them from scratch. On top there is a big difference between someone who just does social media because they are employed to do so and between someone who is passionate about social media. The results will be a world of difference.

If you aren’t going to hire a social media expert working in house as they come quite pricey, you have to be selective when it comes to an agency that will do the job for you. I would suggest to take a local agency that is an expert in this area that will offer you a dedicated account manager who you can regularly liaise with and who also takes great care in getting to know the product. There should also be a sort of return initiative once the collaboration starts, meaning the social manager you collaborate with should also be having some easy point of contacts from which they can get the information they require such as factsheets, photos etc. It’s a relationship/partnership collaboration.

You need to have someone that has a fine feeling of the company and Mauritius to be able to better broadcast messages and have posts that relate to the company. You need to recruit the best only to do that, and they should know every facet of the product they are presenting as if it is their own. While the social media manager can work from anywhere, they might not necessarily need to be at the companies premises everyday. But this really depends, if you have a team and you are running some complex campaigns you might need to work with your team seated together. Well it can also work out over Skype. You have to see which communication tools work best and offer optimum and efficient results.

Your social media manager must be able to respond to comments and enquiries as such that it is the company responding to the client. Clients or fans communicating with the social media manager will feel more assured when the company is responding to them professionally. And he or she needs to make sure not to miss out on any comments, whether a tweet, or a comment on Facebook and Google+.

Don’t spam your followers
One big mistake many hotels in Mauritius on Google+ do is when posting their posts, they share it directly with their circles in which they have added persons that they follow. This leads to these persons getting notifications which many will find annoying and consider as spam. The result is that people you send those notifications will mute or block you. The best approach is to always post your posts and only use the public option, with this one you are on the safe side.

You need social proof, please build one that is relevant to what you offer!
Social proof is for example the amount of likes, followers or fans that you have. Some company pages like to tweak this figure by buying likes. A high figure represents a better social proof. I would suggest you to build your social proof figure with real interested followers. Bigger hotel groups can try to win their clients as followers. There are various strategies you can adopt. I have seen Beachcomber work out a lot of ways to engage those visiting their websites in becoming a fan of their Facebook pages and the option to win something! On Facebook you can run marketing campaigns that will grow your social proof. I would suggest you there to really target and segment properly your niche in order to attract the right people that will like and then also engage with your page. It is not wise to just blow up your follower base with for example 1000 fake accounts. Imagine the difference if you have 1000 real followers who are truly interested in your offer and also engage in your posts.

Ads campaign on Facebook
On Facebook as a resort you can easily start a marketing campaign and start with as low as 10$ per day. Facebook offers you various tools to segment and target very precisely your niche. Don’t be tempted to fall for sending out your ads to millions of people. The smaller your segmentation the better. You need to know clearly what clientèle you are targeting and that you know will be truly interested in what you have to offer. You can also set up several campaigns and see which one performs better. Gather your metrics, compare and make conclusions which campaigns must be shut down, which ones you push in more budget.

Track your posts
Most of these social media platforms also offer tools to track the performance of your posts or ads campaigns. If you find that these are not enough you can also use external tools such as:

SumAll Social Media Reports
I will also mention Hootsuite below with which you can also schedule posts and manage various accounts, this program also offers data analytic tools.

Plan your social media campaigns
While simply said you can either plan the volume of posts such as 3 posts per day at different times, which can be either a photo, text, link, video, tips, questions, games, stuff to win, create user engagement and more. I find it still a bit difficult to set goals such as targeting to achieve 1 booking per day via social media channels. You’ll scare your followers away if you are only trying to sell. Give your social media manager the freedom to operate and experiment. This requires time. Not only a month, several months at time. Look at long term. Years. Accountability, regular reporting and a follow should also be in place. If you have outsourced your social media requirements and you do not understand much of it, you’ll need at least someone in your hotel that has or develops an understanding of social media (at least the basics) so that when communicating with your social manager you can also relate to what is being done and if you are getting value for money.

What should you use your social media accounts for?
Aim first to provide those social media accounts running for your hotel as places where you can interact with potential customers who are interested in your product and who have questions. Others might just start to follow you because they intend to book a year later but they love to see those photos that you regularly share. When they book, you might not even know that they came and were convinced through your social media account. You can plan ahead and learn to know what works out better, what doesn’t and you can schedule posts. You can use tools such as:

Hootsuite
Tiempy

Keep on learning
Social Media keeps evolving. A social manager needs to regularly learn from others and feel passionate to discover new trends in the area of social media. There are many ways to do this such as watching Google Hangouts where social media experts share their experiences and where questions can be asked. Of course you also learn from your own experiences and it takes time. Keep on trying new stuff!

Some other nice resources to have a look at:
Conversation Prism
Lots of Infographics by Brian Solis

How do you manage a social media campaign?

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