Monday, September 11, 2017

10 SM Resources for Hospitality Customer Service

Why does social media matter for those in hospitality? A Google search for "hotel" turns up 3.1 billion (that’s billion with a b) results in 1.05 seconds. A similar search on "restaurant" turns up almost 1.9 billion in 1.56 seconds. And the top results will be for such places as Hotels.com, Expedia, Trivago, Kayak and Restaurants.com.

Social Media for Hospitality

For most users those top results will be all they need. But for others the search will be slightly more involved or the decision to click will take a few seconds longer. The difference? Loyalty to a brand or recollection of another person’s great experience.

What can help businesses in hospitality (hotels and restaurants, for example) earn those few seconds of extra consideration?

Social media – it is the very key for industries whose biggest driver is word-of-mouth marketing.

But how? And, perhaps more importantly, why? According to a 2015 article on Harvard Business Review:
  • "Consumers under 35 spend almost four hours per day on social media, and more of that time is being spent engaging with brands."
  •  "17% of people older than 55 prefer social media over the telephone for service."
And, of the four stages of the consumer decision-making process – need recognition, information search, evaluation and decision – social media increasingly plays a role in the first three….

So how should those in hospitality – particularly on the customer service side – use social media to attract, assist and retain loyal customers?

10 Social Media Resources for Hospitality Customer Service

The article 5 Social Customer Service Best Practices from Cision suggests restaurants and hotels graduate their social care customers to a more reliable communications platform such as SMS or email, get all employees on board with appropriate social responses and understand that customers expect a near-immediate response on social media.
  • Key takeaway: "Today, 39 percent of social media complainers who expect a reply want it to come within 60 minutes, yet the average response time from businesses is 5 hours,” says social media expert Jay Baer in the piece.
In Social Hospitality: How 8 Hotels Engage Guests On & Offline (from Sprout Social) author Jennifer Beese suggests that social media allows hoteliers to be an Invaluable resource beyond just providing accommodations, to be attentive during guests’ stays and a to extend the experience after the stay.
  • A key takeaway: "Knowing where your guests communicate online will help you provide a better customer service experience while enabling you to reach the right people at exactly the right time."
The grandly named The Complete Guide to Social Media for Restaurants & Bars (also from Sprout Social) gives advice on creating relevant posts (i.e. understanding the difference between engagement vs. promotional posting), how to find optimal times to post and what it takes to get your social efforts to a higher level.
  • A key takeaway: "If you’re not visibly active on social media, then you’re missing out on a large customer base."
The question and answer website Quora might be a great resource for those in hospitality according to Quora: How to Generate Leads for a Hotel says an article on the Social Media Explorer site. It suggests such strategies as being on social to provide solutions, searching social platforms for questions to answer and resisting being promotional in social posts.
  • A key takeaway: "A boutique hotel could easily muscle in on the big boys’ territory with well-thought out answers to travelers’ queries. In the process, you’ll build authority and possibly carve out a niche for your brand."
The eHotelier.com piece How the hospitality industry is embracing social media offers a series of "insider tips" for those in hospitality and their use of such platforms as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These include Facebook promotions and working with bloggers.
  • A key takeaway: "Ninety one per cent of retail brands use two or more social media channels, and the hospitality industry should be no different."
Conversocial, a website that looks at various aspects of social media and customer service, offers Customer Service for Travel, suggesting that hospitality brands standing out as leaders in social customer service are making major investments in this area, expanding their teams and marketing budgets. The piece offers tips on deepening connections to customers and making the right impression on social channels.
  • A key takeaway: "More than other customer service channels, social lends itself to creating memorable experiences for customers."
7. Customer service in its broadest sense means offering something of value on social to current and future customers. So the post 10 Examples of Great Social Media Content for Restaurants on the EnPlug Blog offers tips including the obvious "Share mouth-watering photos” and the not-so-obvious "Get your employees involved."
  •      A key takeaway: Show your customers that you’re on social for more than just pushing out promotions. Whether you’re answering questions, addressing concerns, saying thanks, or just responding with wit, your responses will go a long way."
Top social media management tools for hotels and the hospitality industry from TravelTripper.com offers a list of 10 social media management tools for the hospitality industry with explanations of features and pricing.
  • A key takeaway: "From streamlining content creation and posting to social listening and analytics integrations, social media tools come with a range of innovative features …."
Are there downsides to social media for hospitality businesses? Some would say negative reviews on sites such as Yelp, but RestaurantEngine.com – in How to Respond to Negative Restaurant Reviews – says "…not all negative reviews have lasting consequences…. It’s what you do with the review that sets you apart and defines your restaurant."
  • A key takeaway: "Not only are you fighting for the reviewer’s business, but you’re fighting for everyone else who reads the review."
And of course I’d be remiss to not mention all of the various infographics that boil down social customer service to its key elements. I’ve created a public Pinterest board called Social Customer Service that may prove useful to those in hospitality. The graphics range from how to use social to deal with negative comments to using social to build loyalty and trust with future and current customers.

Bonus: If you’re looking for some thought leaders in the area of social media and hospitality you might check out The Top 16 Leaders in Hospitality to Follow on Twitter from Capterra.
                Is social media here to stay as a fact of life for customer service in social media? For sure. Will it evolve and grow as a series of customer service channels? Absolutely. What do you think?

Related posts:



Friday, October 14, 2016

Tracking the presidential election with social media

With just weeks until the 2016 Elections in the U.S. it is clear that this cycle has become the social media-driven elections.

No matter who you support, who you despise or who you wish would just "be quiet" there is an endless supply of Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram images and YouTube videos to variously inform, annoy or enrage. How to make sense of it all? 

First, decide if social media can help you stay informed. If the answer is "no" you can just stop here. But if the answer is "yes" then here are a few suggestions: 

Twitter
Follow a popular hashtag or hashtags: Some popular hashtags this election season include #election2016, #debates, #debates2016, #trump, #clinton, #donaldtrump, #hillary, #vote, #nevertrump, #hillaryemails
Explore some new hashtags: There’s an exhaustive list of hashtags (Warning: some are NSFW) on the Top-Hashtags.com website.
Create a Twitter list: This is simply a way organizing the Twitter "firehose" so that it is more manageable. In other words by viewing a list you are only seeing the tweets of the people you place on that list and not all of the people you follow on Twitter. (For more how to create a list see Using Twitter lists from Twitter). Who should be on your list? A good place to start is adding the Twitter accounts of the candidates, their proxies and their official campaigns. After that add people you think are informative and helpful.

Facebook
Like the pages of all the major candidates: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson
Like the pages of the political parties: Green, Libertarian, Independents, Democrat and Republican. • Use the filtering functions of Socialfixer to exclude certain kinds of posts. Although this article from ZDNet talks about using Socialfixer eliminating all political debate from your Facebook feed, the same principles can be applied to cut down on certain types of content in your feed. See How to filter politically sanctimonious Facebook posts from your news feed
• Use the USA Today/Facebook Barometer to gauge which candidates are doing better or worse based on Facebook activity (likes, shares, mentions).

Others
• Follow the Instagram accounts of … Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein
• Subscribe to the YouTube accounts of … Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump 

I hope this is an useful primer. Please feel free to post other social media tips around the elections in the comments.

Related posts:
Fact-checking the presidential election - from social media claims to debate points
Social Media and Politics Makes for Odd Bedfellows

Updated: Fact-checking the presidential election - from social media claims to debate points

Updated to include Google's addition of a "Fact Check" category in Google News search results. See "Update" at the end of this post.

This 2016 election season in the United States has been like no other for a couple of reasons. 

It has two leading presidential candidates comfortable using social media with hordes of rabid followers tearing up the social media channels with claims real and, well, a lot less so.
Fact or Not? Fact-checking and social media
The live candidate debates have frequently degenerated into name calling and claims that are hard to believe.

What is an interested citizen to do?

Thankfully the other trend this season has been the wide range of sites offering fact-checking on what is being said by all sides. 

Here is a starter list (it could never be truly comprehensive). The links lead to a site's political coverage where many, if no most, offer live fact-checking during major debates:

Big name media outlets on the right:
Wall Street Journal
Forbes
Fox

Big name media outlets on the left:
NPR
New York Daily News
The Huffington Post

Mainstream media outlets:
USA Today
ABC News
CBS News
NBC News
PBS Newshour
The New York Times
The Washington Post 
The Los Angeles Times

Fact-checking organizations:
PolitiFact
FactCheck.org
Snopes

Foreign news media:
BBC
Reuters

Hip media outlets:  
Buzzfeed
Heavy.com
Mic.com

Partisan advocacy organizations:
ThinkProgress  (Liberal-leaning)
NewsBusters  (Conservative-leaning)
Breitbart (Conservative-leaning)

So, whether you're fact-checking a candidate debate or another's social media post, know that you have almost no end of sources tom verify what is being said.

Update:
Google has added Fact Check as a tag to search results involving major news stories. It says it is doing this to help searchers on the web identify stories that have a fact-checking in them. Google in a web post said:"We’re excited to see the growth of the Fact Check community and to shine a light on its efforts to divine fact from fiction, wisdom from spin."

Related posts:
Tracking the presidential election with social media
Social Media and Politics Makes for Odd Bedfellows

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Social Media and Politics Makes for Odd Bedfellows

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump - 2016 presidential candidates
If you believe, as the saying goes, that "politics makes strange bedfellows," then politics and social media make for some truly odd "bedfellows."

In the current hyper-charged electoral season in the United States it seems social media streams are overflowing with political points of view ranging from bemused commentary to out-and-out hate speech for one presidential candidate or the other.

This, perhaps inevitably, has led to those posting or those seeing extreme posts to invite anyone who disagrees with them to "unfriend me now."

It’s such a phenomenon it’s become a national story with Politico, for example, reporting this week that Trump and Clinton wreck Facebook friendships.

But is "unfriending" – the Facebook term (or unfollowing or disconnecting on other platforms) – the only or even the best option?

Recently, I was asked to add some tips for a story in the Rochester, N.Y., Democrat and Chronicle: Tips to deal with political haters online.

That story featured my tips and those from Scott Talan, an American University communication teacher who studies social media and politics. His tips are all sound:
  • "Take a breath or two" and think it through before commenting on a friend's post or unfriending someone.
  • Instead of sharp opinion statements, pose questions such as "how can we trust her?" or "is he stable enough to be president?"
  • Remember that this will all be over in November, and your friendships could and should outlast the next presidential term.
  • And, in general, "try not to be like the candidates."
My additions were:
  • Simply ignore the people posting things that upset you. Facebook’s algorithm will eventually push anything they post further and further down your news feed since it gives priority to close family and friends and people you interact with regularly. You can also start interacting more with the people you enjoy — this will hasten the process of the others being pushed down.
  • If you must comment on posts, stick to facts and questions. It’s hard to argue with the former (especially if you drop in a citation and/or link). Or ask questions that might provoke new thinking.

But I got to thinking and there are other things you can do: 
  • Another way to quickly bury someone who is posting things you don’t want to see on Facebook is to use FB’s “Hide” feature (see pic). At the top right of any Friend’s post the drop-down menu will include Hide and Unfriend. The first means you’ll see a lot less from the person and (if you have a lot of friends) eventually nothing from that person unless they tag you in a post. Unfriending is the “nuclear option” and although the person you unfriend gets no notification of this they will soon figure it out if they try to message you or tag you on Facebook.
  • On Twitter a best practice is to start using the Lists feature to organize the people you follow into those who are friends and/or providing relevant posts. This cuts the “Twitter firehose” news feed down to size and can have the added benefit of ensuring you don’t see posts from people who annoy or upset you. 

And in all of this hyper-charged political season one piece of advice for anything on social media still holds true: “Would you be proud to show you grandmother whatever it is you are about to post?”

Good friends and smart people can agree to disagree on one thing and not lose a friendship over it. Social media doesn’t need to be a place where we only associate with people we agree with 100 percent of the time – that’s the kind of thinking that has turned Washington into a laughingstock…

What do you think?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Live video streaming on social media has ‘arrived’

In case you missed it this past week - live-streaming social media video has changed the world. 

While livestreamed events such as a watermelon being exploded with rubber bands or the "Chewbacca Mom" video have been Internet hits, it has been the graphic news of the past week that hints at the live-streaming’s powerful future potential.

The Facebook Live stream by Diamond Reynolds of the aftermath of the shooting of Philando Castile by a police officer in Minnesota was only the latest (and possibly most graphic) example of a livestream capturing and recording news as it happened.

The sniper attack in Dallas the next day led to numerous live video streams on Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope. News coverage on traditional media during the Dallas shootings and over the following hours consisted almost entirely of live-streamed social media video.

If live-streaming needed it’s "coming of age" moment this was likely it. What does it mean?

The live-streamed events of last week foreshadow "the biggest shift in media consumption we’ve seen since the introduction of television itself," writes Andrew Hutchinson, a writer and community manager at Social Media Today in a post called "The Evolution of Live-Streaming Could Change the Way You Consume Media - Here’s How"

"Just as online content democratized newspaper journalism, putting small time blogs on equal footing with centuries-old publications, live-streaming takes away one of traditional broadcasters’ most significant advantages, in the control of the broadcast of live events," he continues. 

"Really, social media is moving beyond its personal networking roots – there’ll come a time soon when ‘social’ media is simply considered part of the media more widely.”

But, the possibility of injury and death being live-streamed raises ethical issues.

In Live Broadcast of Deaths Raised Ethical Questions on the Voice of American Blog ‘As It Is’ Robert Thompson, Director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, says the rise in live streaming will have good consequences (holding people accountable) and bad (groups such as ISIS staging killings just for the purpose of recording them). 

"A lot of these bad things are done for the sake of the recording they are going to get," Thompson says. "You could make the argument, pretty soundly, that September 11 was planned as a television production." 

This will raise a wide range of ethical issues with live-streaming technology, but it will be nearly impossible to stop it: "Technology is relatively neutral," he says. "How do you only take the good from this and not the bad?"

And with all of this potentially graphic live content comes responsibility. 

To deal with the likelihood that more and more graphic live material will be streamed Facebook will increasingly play a policies-and-standards role in the news social media users will see live-streamed. 

The Minnesota video was off Facebook for about an hour last week - apparently while the network decided if it was too graphic and might violate Facebook's Community Standards. 

Writing for Tech Talk Quinten Plummer notes that "to determine which graphic and violent images are permitted, Facebook relies on context." 

In an article called "Facebook Live-Stream Video Gives Marginalized A Voice, But Here's Where It Draws The Line" Plummer reports: "Facebook has clarified its stance on gory and violent content. Just as is the case with video on demand, a member of Facebook's review team can interrupt a live video at any time. And a team member is on call around the clock, each day of the week." 

And, in what seems to be Mark Zuckerberg’s wish for the future of live-streaming, the Facebook CEO says: "While I hope we never have to see another video like Diamond's, it reminds us why coming together to build a more open and connected world is so important - and how far we still have to go."

Zuckerberg's wish is one many share, but the reality is this: The media landscape changed last week and the ramifications of that will be felt far and wide….

Related:
3 Things to Consider (Well) Before You Live Stream on Social Media