I know that you have been beaten over the head with the point that you must be on Social Media in today’s world. While I agree that the Outdoor Hospitality Industry is first and foremost made up of customers who are social, I don’t agree with how social media is being promoted.
Social Media isn’t only Facebook and Twitter. It isn’t only YouTube and Pinterest. If you send out a newsletter, that is Social Media; if you host rallies, that is Social Media.
In other words the most important part of Social Media is the Social part whether you are talking about the digital channels for Social Media or how you interact with your customers.
1.) Please, Please, Please don’t just throw posts up on your digital channels that talk about your special rate for the upcoming weekend, the RV you have featured on your sales lot, or a lot you have available for a seasonal lease.
These are advertising opportunities. They are not Social Media opportunities. Now I’m not saying that you should never use your SM channels for advertising. But I am saying that advertising should be tightly controlled, very limited in use and should generate a conversation.
2.) If you decide to use an automated system for posting to your digital channels, you can’t just “Set it and forget it” (thank you Ron Propeil for your unforgettable tag line.) The automated posts need to be interspersed with regular posts that either answer a customer or give valuable information.
Nothing is more discouraging for me than to see posts that I immediately recognize as automated either because they are out of date, don’t apply to the discussion that is being held or they are things that I would consider SPAM if I were to receive them by email.
3.) Think about what the particular Social Media channel is before you use it.
I have seen posts that are promoting an RV park that are placed in LinkedIn Groups that are directed at RV park managers. That post is a waste of time and money (the time it took to write the post and the money that was lost because the writer wasn’t doing something more productive.)
I have seen YouTube links that are boring, uninformative and not worth the space that they occupy. YouTube can be a great avenue, but think remember to think about what the channel is before you post a video.
If your video is someone walking around an almost empty park with a camera, no audio and no identifiable reason for the video, it’s a WTM (waste of time & money.)
4.) If your newsletter is printed and handed out to customers, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to shorten URL’s using bit.ly or similar link shortening programs. It’s much easier to remember a full web address than it is to try to remember a bunch of unrelated letters and numbers.
On the other hand, if your newsletter is going out in an email, creating a hyperlink is definitely a plus; however, when you do include hyperlinks, remember that some of your readers are going to be very cautious about clicking on the link out of fear of viruses.
5.) Don’t forget that reviews are a major SM channel. If you are receiving rave reviews from your customers, others are going to notice. At the same time, if you are receiving negative reviews that is also going to be noticed.
The moral to the story? Answer your reviews. If you were in a group of people and someone complimented you, wouldn’t you say Thank You? If someone were to complain about you and your business, wouldn’t you reply?
The trick here is to be honest and non-judgmental, particularly with negative reviews. Don’t go on the attack. Don’t start name calling. Don’t dismiss the complaint as ridiculous. Do acknowledge the complaint. Do state that you will look into the problem (and do review with your staff to understand why the person is unhappy.) Do offer your apologies (even if the person complaining is the one at fault.)
What I really want to point out is that Social Media isn’t a Sales tool, it isn’t a Marketing tool, rather it is a Networking tool. And when that Networking tool is used properly, it will result in improving your sales and marketing.
So now the question is, “Are you using Social Media to network or to sell?”