Written by: Cristina García
“Every day, user-generated content (UGC) is part of the online experience of millions Internet users. From entertainment to communications to e-commerce, consumers are taking charge of the creation, distribution and consumption of digital content.”
User-generated content can take many forms: reviews, testimonials, comments, social publications, forums, videos, etc. And it is a content that basically works for its reliability. Because everyone knows that a brand can afford a copywriter to write wonders about it. And when a potential consumer looks for content of this brand, he knows that if another user has created it, he can trust it.
In fact, according to some Statista statistics: content sharing was the most popular social networking activity in 2016 and 945 million dollars in YouTube revenue was the result of user content.
So, regarding the tourism sector, it’s not new that travelers are sharing their experience through social media more than never before. Then, if your potential customers are already generating content, why not leverage this behavior?
According to a recent study, 97% of Millenials publish content on social media when traveling. As you know, customers’ online reviews can be very influential since when planning a trip, you potential guests are always taking into account not only your rooms price.
When your have in mind this user generated content and you use it correctly, you are able to increase significantly your exposure (your awareness) and your hotel occupancy. In short, it can help you get more sales. That’s why today we are giving you a few tips to leverage user-generated content.
Being present on social media is not enough you also have to be active. Insure that your guests can find you easily by promoting your different social networks for example on your hotel’s website and in your emails. Encourage your guests to publish on their social media pages by creating interactive content.
This is obvious but essential. Create your own hashtags that will allow your guests to tag you when publishing about your hotel. This hashtag will make you gain more visibility on social media. And they will also help you to follow the activity your community users, to be able to manage the UGC.
Think that when a guest tags your hotel in one of his posts, it appears on your newsfeed. However, if a guest does not tag you properly you won’t get any notification. You have to use tools such as Hootsuite to be notified even when guests do not tag you properly. Thanks to these tags, you can see these users’ posts whether there are texts or visuals.
In addition, these tools, as HubSpot, allow you to schedule your publications in advance and analyze the activity of your platforms to monitor the results. Automation and analysis in these cases is essential when it comes to saving time spent, so you can devote more effort to identify the content generated by your users on social networks.
Plus you have to always share, retweet, like comments, reviews, photos and videos published by your community users. And don’t hesitate to publish on your hotel’s website reviews from your guests published on Trip Advisor or on their social media accounts.
However, never forget that even if social media are more and more important, you still need to encourage your guests to post a review on travel websites such as Trip Advisor that are still very influential during the planning stage of a trip.
Now think if you want to go one step further, you need to take some actions in order to boost your social media strategy.
Ideally, users in your social networks community are not only your customers, but also your potential guests. But before reaching them you need to create the reasons to encourage them to join your networks. And for this you must be up to date with the trendier phenomena. For example, you can set up a selfie station in your own hotel. As you may have already noticed, the selfie phenomenon is growing and now not only Millennials take them.
Encourage your guests to use your selfie station and post these photos on their social networks profiles. In these posts they will tag your hotel with the hastags you have created. Providing thus the ideal environment to continue working with the content generated by these users. And keep in mind that reciprocity is vital! Do not forget to tag them back and thank your customers this gesture. Reciprocity is vital.
Furthermore, as you know, travelers love sharing their travel experience. Leverage this love for sharing content and organize contests such as picture contests or video contests. Since audiovisual content is the most demanded by travel consumers.
The reward whether it is a free dinner, night, tickets for local events or even a free stay, has to be in line with the level of effort required for the contest. Make them work for it. When contestants have to make an effort to produce content and you reward their talent accordingly, they became much more engaged.
Think that is more interesting to share and consume content that reflects effort and talent. Besides, if you announce publicly the winner through your hotel social platforms, your will be also creating awareness for your future contests.
Many of the actions that brands take on social networks are focused on engagement. However, sometimes this “commitment” is superficial if you don’t work to reach your client or potential client heart. Therefore, instead of just performing the basic actions to get more user-generate content, you should worry about creating communities that connect with the users who have real connection with your hotel’s brand.
If in addition of promoting the user-hotel engagement you are also boosting user-user engagement you will see that this deeper connection is only a matter of time. In this way, you will not only identify the experts in these communities (those who offer more solutions and points of view on your products and services), but also identify your true promoters: your brand ambassadors. Those are sometimes the influencers and purchase enablers.
User-generated content campaigns should not only be focused on earning awareness and shares. When users share their own content you can also learn a lot about their preferences, how they perceive your brand, how they are using your products and services, if there are some struggles customers are having and you can solve.
User generated content fits in the inbound marketing cycle. It attracts, convert, close and delight. It plays an important role in all these stages. It’s credible, provides value to your hotel, creates loyalty and attracts new customers. Keep encouraging your guests to share their experience to strengthen the relationship with the users in your social media communities. Because when travelers are hovering between two hotels, user-generated content makes the difference. And as you know, there is no better proof that your hotel is great than a customer’s opinion.