Social Media’s importance is no longer up for debate. Socializing on social media websites is an integral part of the lifestyle of a large percentage of the world’s population. Everyday millions of users aged 13 to 40 log on to social media websites to interact and communicate with their friends, family and peers. Facebook alone has a 500+ million-user base and this number is steadily growing. Studies conducted by Nielsen indicate that social media usage has increased by 82% in the last year, an astronomical rise. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and social interaction are becoming the focus of our online interactions, even more than search.
The sheer size of social media user bases makes them a guest rich marketing channel. To target and capture audiences using social media, you need to develop a strong presence for your hotel on social network websites and spend time interacting, developing and building relationships with them. Social media as a channel is constantly changing as new technology emerges. To maintain your hold on this channel, you need to know what the latest trends are, how it can evolve in the near future, anticipate future trends and accordingly change your online marketing strategy.
Here are some trends you should keep an eye out for:
Broadcasting your location with your tweet is the latest trend to hit the virtual streets. Social media websites like Twitter and giants like Google (Google Latitude) have applications in place that let people broadcast their locations i.e. where they are tweeting from. This trend not only shows audience movement, it also presents you with a marketing opportunity. For example if you are organizing a New Year Bash or have a band playing, you can draw crowds to your hotel by posting information about your event online.
A similar trend is emerging on the mobile front as application providers like Foursquare and Gowalla, make it possible for individuals to track friend’s plans, check out friend recommendations and plan their schedules accordingly.
Almost every person online has a social media account whether it’s a Twitter, a Facebook or a LinkedIn account and are using them to socialize and network with family, friends, colleagues and potential business associates. In fact, a significant percentage of Facebook and Twitter users access their pages via their internet-enabled mobile phones. This change in lifestyle patterns is being acknowledged as more and more internet enabled devices are launched. In the near future, you can expect devices that embed social media identities (Facebook profile, Twitter username, LinkedIn profile etc.) as part of setting the device and propagate into all applications. People will no longer have to log in to access their social media pages instead access will be seamless. Hotels will benefit from this trend, as 24 x 7 instant access to social media pages will make building relationships with guests will become a faster and easier process.
Once social media identities become an integral part of our day-to-day lives, the way we share will change. At the moment, online sharing equals to posting pictures on Flickr and videos on YouTube. As devices get internet enabled, media servers and like will probably disappear. Tv’s, PVRs and hi-fis will be internet enabled and allow us to share likes, links and personal commentary. Remote controls will include “like” buttons, which auto-post to your Facebook page. Hotels will be able to streamline their communication between mediums. They also will be able to gauge how guests view them.
To summarize, the social media trends emerging indicate a convergence of mediums – TVs, mobiles, internet fueled by embedded identity and enhanced by location awareness.