How do B&Bs measure the “real” value of social media?

Daniel-Edward-Craig-2012-cropped_blueAs well as having a very cool name, former Canadian hotel manager (and novelist!) Daniel Edward Craig is an always-astute observer of the hospitality business. Though he focuses more on hotels than B&Bs, much of what he has to say about online marketing is relevant to both.

In a recent blog post, Craig asks how exactly to measure the ROI (Return On Investment) of social media activity on sites like Twitter & Facebook – without indulging in the wild, unsubstantiated claims of self-styled social media “gurus”.

As he observes, “The reality is, if you try to draw a direct line between social media and revenue you’re likely to come up short. This isn’t to say there aren’t significant revenue benefits to social media; they’re just hard to trace. A recent eConsultancy/Adobe survey of over 650 marketers worldwide found that only 12% are able to track the effects of social media activity on revenue.”

Having established this, he suggests three ways to measure social media effectiveness: Social Analytics, Review Analytics & Website Analytics. In terms of the first, he acknowledges that, so far, “people go to Facebook to socialize, not to shop”.  So he suggests a different way of looking at Facebook and Twitter, called ‘engagement’: “Your goal is to build a community of people with a shared affinity for your brand, not of people who liked your page to win a contest and will never pay for a room. Quality is more important than quantity.”

He also makes some good points about how useful it can be to look at how people visited your website and where they came from: “New features on Google Analytics help you determine which social networks drive visitors to your site, what visitors do on your site, and which pages are shared on social networks. Further, Google provides attribution data like Last Interaction and Assisted Conversions as well as conversion paths to help you determine social media’s part in driving direct bookings at each online stage of the decision journey.”

Though he does occasionally slip into marketing-speak, he really knows his stuff and expresses it far more clearly than most. The overall point he seems to be making is that although the case for social media driving direct revenue in a big way has yet to be made, it is a great way of building loyalty – regardless of your property’s size – and can support more traditional sales methods: “Email blasts, OTAs and cost-per-click are more efficient means of driving direct revenue, and most travellers still book via traditional channels like Web, phone and GDS. Social media supports these activities by amplifying paid media and driving traffic to these channels.”

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2 thoughts on “How do B&Bs measure the “real” value of social media?

  1. Before even worrying about monitoring your social media results, B&B owners (in particular) need to a) find out where their guests/potential guests are and then b) determine what the purpose of having a social media campaign on that particular site is. Most of my fans on FB are former guests with whom I work to develop a relationship with to stay top of mind and repeat business and to let other fans know what is happening in Parry Sound that they might be interested in. Because I don’t have many B&B followers on Twitter, to save time I have connected the two accounts and only worrying about posting on FB. When you have limited time available, it is essential to prioritize your marketing efforts to focus on marketing activities that are going to bring in revenue.

  2. We do not pay for any “ads” on social media so do not worry to much about the ROI. It is as Susan said, about keeping current followers interested so they will return, and hopefully increase the following too. I do get direct bookings through FB and Twitter but tend to be returning guests or their friends/family – but every little helps! Every receipt and business card has our details and have found out that a number of people read but not “like” or “follow” us, disparagingly called lurkers I believe. Frankly I have not got time to do anything but basic analysis on Google, but larger businesses no doubt need to.

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