Marketing is a matter of relativity. Not only is it crucial for you to present the right image – but it has to be better than the other guy’s. Let’s face it: business is about beating the other guy, and when it comes to social media, that becomes a very complex affair.
Sure, it’s one thing to monitor social networks – find out what customers and potential customers are saying about you – and deal with all that.
But how are the other guys doing? Ari and Benji Greenberg, who founded BCV, a social media management firm, have taken a hard look at benchmarking – taking a look at how hotels are performing as far as social media engagement, growth and relevancy – against their competitive set.
As the Greenbergs note, a lot of brands deploy top-line benchmarking – looking at reviews on review sites. But, as they point out, that doesn’t really provide insight into what success looks like. What if the average Facebook page has 20,000 fans – but a competitor is growing five times as fast. Are they doing ads that work – or simply creating great content?
BCV brings social media back to revenue – tracking market share to see whether another 500 Facebook engagements result in an increase in rate. The Greenbergs aim to roll out a tool this year that enables hoteliers to do a lot of this stuff on their own -- with their company serving as a consultant.
It’s a similar scenario to the new supremacy of revenue management – where software tools have become very sophisticated in predicting rate and occupancy – but remain an art based on experience and judgment.
This stuff is not easy, but hotels are getting smarter at it – even, say the Greenbergs, at the ownership level where investment in this kind of information may not have been popular not long ago.
Now travel marketers have to benchmark their social media experts. The number of consultants, analysts and the like in social media has exploded as rapidly as social media itself (even the Greenbergs have created a chart benchmarking their capabilities and results against their competitors).
Michael Zammuto, president of Reputation Changer, an SEO firm that insures that a company’s “best assets show up first on search pages,” puts the emphasis on search results – the most basic of benchmarking metrics. Reputation Changer will go far to ensure those search results – even creating Wikipedia pages that always show up high on Google.
“You are who Google says you are,” asserts Zammuto, who adds, “Most of the people who come to us as clients have attempted to solve these search engine issues, including public relations agencies. But as the business becomes more complex, more sophisticated tools are called for.”
Discussing his counterparts like BCV who manage social media, Zammuto says they’re complementary to his services. “Their focus is on people,” he says; “ours is on search results.”
The action is fast and furious on social media management – with the specialties both diversifying and narrowing. There was a lot of buzz in the travel writing community recently when Barbara DeLollis, who wrote a very popular blog about hotels for USA Today, took a marketing job with ReviewPro, the company that monitors online reviews for hotels. Her move may be symbolic of the jump from traditional media to “reputation media.”
With all this going on, an argument can be made that a hotel or brand needs a social media team – that does include their pr and ad agencies – to deal with how their reputation is being managed and manipulated – and, of course, how the other guy is doing.