Just Be Human! Managing your online reputation with social media.

We've recently published an article in Cleverdis' quarterly hotelier journal SMARTreport. Check it out below!

Lately, a good amount of buzz in the social media space has been revolving around a new epicenter: influence. Individuals and firms alike are trying to figure out what exactly it describes, and what that means for their lives on the Internet. For the hotel world, one conclusion is certain: having a clear idea of how you can shape your hotel’s online influence is an absolutely essential part of a well-rounded reputation management strategy.

In the conversation about managing your hotel’s reputation within social media, it’s often very easy to pay close attention to numerical metrics that describe your online presence: you have a certain number of twitter followers, of Facebook fans, of review posts about your hotel, etc. And if your main goal is to net more customers by having a better online reputation, the easiest way to visualize extending your reach into social media is by growing those numbers. Simple, yes. But also significantly misguided. Follower count does not equate to an influential reputation.

The marketing department of any firm, large or small, has a certain budget of resources to invest. These resources are most often described in monetary terms, often figuring into an ROI calculation. A certain amount of money invested by a company goes towards traditional advertisement, which attracts customers who return on that initial investment by spending money with the company. Thus it’s extremely easy to make the logical extension that interaction within social media can be quantified in the same manner. But social media is, in reality, a more abstract environment, where the focus lies best not on quantity, but on quality of interaction. Changing your focus to the quality of your social media engagement can help your hotel’s reputation take strides in the the social environment in a very short amount of time.

Think about it: word-of-mouth is still the strongest deciding factor in every consumer decision we make. But now, instead this word-of-mouth traveling through standard physical social interactions, it now spreads electronically across social graphs in a matter of minutes. And if you can positively affect that word-of-mouth by engaging in the conversation directly with your customers via social channels, the results can be substantial.

How does a brand increase their ability to influence the online “word-of-mouth” conversation? Mainly, by participating actively on social channels in a distinctly human manner. Far too many firms fill their twitter and Facebook feeds with auto-tweeted links of little actual significance to their potential customers. Yet the real purpose of participation in social media is to add that personable, human touch to your brand that would be impossible via any other means. One can easily do a quick google if they want information about a certain topic; one cannot google a valuable, personal conversation with a brand. You need to actively reach out and engage your customer on their level - “meet them where they are.”

So take the opportunity to use your social media presence to begin a conversation with individuals. Retweet their comments, respond to their @-replies, invite user participation on Facebook, and grow your social media community influence to expand your potential customer base. This is the essence of high-quality social media reputation management:

  • Direct online engagement with customers increases your influence on those customers, as well as with other Internet users who view the positive interaction between your brand and the general public.
  • The more influence you have in the online space, the more trust customers will place in your brand.
  • And the more trust customers have in your reputation, the more likely they are to visit your hotel. Staying at a hotel is a very personal experience. If you, as the host, can win the customer’s trust, you’ve won a paying guest.
  • Remember: managing reputation with social media is less about the ROI you can calculate, but more about the positive influence you can generate.

(taken from Cleverdis SMARTreport, November 2011, pp. 33-34:  http://www.cleverdis-pdfdownloads.com/flipbooks/HOTEL_WW/2011/November/)


Tony Ciccarone is a software developer with 10+ years of experience in making fast responsive websites, writing clean PHP/JS code, and creating data-driven web applications.

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