As 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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