Once, a Yellow Pages listing was all you needed. People just looked you up in the phone book. But this has changed. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that all age groups and demographics are increasing their online usage, and now it’s crucial that your business takes advantage of the internet.
Today, social networking tools can be as important as a Yellow Pages listing was 10 years ago. This is partly due to the shift in user expectations regarding the internet. Where once upon a time, the internet was basically a giant service directory, it is now widely seen as an interactive tool. People expect to be able to read about other peoples experiences, more over they want to be involved. It’s fair to say that this generation of internet users demand interaction.
Its hard to think of an industry that has taken advantage of the internet more than the Hospitality industry. Sites such as www.wotif.com.au and www.lastminute.com.au have revolutionized the way Australians book accommodation. There are also examples of hotels which have built massive in-depth databases about their cliental and are constantly pushing the envelope for marketing. One venue we deal with has such a strong database, that if the venue is quiet come 3pm on a Friday afternoon, they send out a mass SMS to a particular industry (I.E Tradies) with a promotion. Within a few hours the place can be brimming with cliental.
Other venues now take photo’s and video’s during the evening and encourage patrons to check the website later in the week to view the photo’s and leave a comment. This is a ridiculously easy and powerful opportunity that many venues just aren’t taking advantage of. Why more venues don’t make a FREE facebook account to post these photos to still amazes me. This is where the power of Social Networking can really be exploited.
The lack of excitement from old school marketers could be attributed to the false belief that facebook is only for generation Y (18-24 year olds). Yet this is far from the truth. Check out these hitwise stats. Is your demographic using facebook?
You can interpret these stats for yourself, but clearly despite popular belief, gen y is 3rd in the highest users of facebook.
So if you want to make positive use of Social Networking ask yourself a few questions
• How do I make my content interactive?
• Is my content actually interesting?
• Do I really commit enough time to it?
I hear you asking ‘if I go to all this effort, how is that going to help my business sell more…?’. Social Networking may not be at a point where we buy things directly from sites like facebook or twitter just because our friends told us too. But its power is still immense. For one, you can use these tools to create great hype around new product launches. I’m not sure how many times I have been invited on facebook to join the “im going to see the Hangover movie” group on facebook as an example. More importantly though, Social Networking can help create loyalty to your brand. This is absolute gold. If you become the credible voice of your industry on twitter, who do you think your customers will turn to when they need advice? Equally, if you reward and thank customers for their business, they are bound to tell their friends and become repeat customers.
You need to understand that Social Networking is at a stage where it assists your marketing, not necessarily your direct sales. But don’t under estimate its power to drive people to your door. If your ready to make use of these tools or just want some more information, its time to call us!