March 6, 2013
Facebook recently launched 'Graph Search', which on the surface seems simple, but it is in fact a massive opportunity for businesses in the long term. To sum it up, Facebook has essentially updated the platform so that it operates in way that is similar to other platforms that have robust search functionality (ex: Google, Gmail, Wikipedia, OSX). I won't dive in to how it actually works here (check out Mashable for a good run down), rather I will focus on the implications that it has for your hotel or resort.
Which, from my perspective, are huge.
The following are three things you can start doing NOW to ensure your hotel/resort takes full advantage of Facebook Graph Search as it is rolled out. *Note: Facebook Graph Search is rolling out in a relative basic form to start, but I am confident that it will evolve very quickly.
1. Encourage Guests to Create Social Content About Your Hotel/Resort
Facebook Graph Search will primarily feature activity (likes, comments, connection, check-ins, photos) from friends within people's networks. Posting photos and checking-in is already something that many guests have a strong desire to do, so enable them to do so. If you still think charging extra for wi-fi is a good idea, think again. Enabling access to the internet and social networks within your hotel 24/7, free of charge, creates an 'always on' media network with your property as the star.
Content that is shared in realtime from your hotel/resort, instead of uploaded later has significant advantages in that it will most likely be geo-tagged automatically and will feature the name of your property in the post, without the guest having to do anything. Other easy tips include, encouraging guests to share content on Facebook at any special events. Depending on the event, this can be subtly and tactfully done. Make sharing of photos and experiences at your property as easy as possible. Period.
2. Post a lot of Visual & Educational Content On Your Hotel/Resort Facebook Page
If you are not already doing this, now is the time to drastically accelerate visual content creation (photos primarily) so that Facebook graph search picks your hotel/resort up. While simply posting photos won't likely cause your property to rank high in Facebook Graph Search, the key will be to encourage fans and guests to engage with posts that you create. When it comes to business searches on Facebook, I'm willing to bet that posts that have high engagement will be favoured over those that do not and will ultimately create greater visibility for your business.
The hotel/resort industry continues to be in an advantageous position because there is normally a lot of very compelling and interesting visual content to post about. Stay focused on posts that will 1) drive high engagement and 2) that highlight features and unique benefits of your property. This doesn't mean stop posting about conversion, just be aware that this type of content is not likely to perform well in Graph Search in the long term.
Another advantage that will come from posting photos that draw strong engagement, will be that it will create permanent social connections that will ripple across people's networks. If someone comments on a post you make, it will be indexed by Facebook and then if anyone in the commenter's network searches something in relation to that post, your post or profile will likely show up. Whereas Facebook posts previously had a very short lifespan, Graph Search will enable your content to live on indefinitely, much in the same way Google currently indexes blogs that see traffic for years after.
3. Tag and Name Everything!
Just as with Google and other search engines, Facebook will only know what your posting if you tell them (for the most part). As previously mentioned, geo-tagging often occurs automatically if content is being created at a particular location. But in many cases this still does not actually occur. If your content is nottagged, named and socially connected, it will not show up in search when you want it to.
Get in the habit of naming every photo that you post. This is especially important if you are creating an album. I know it can take some time, but instead of simply having the same description for the entire album, name each photo. The name can be very simple, but it should be descriptive of what is in the photo and tagged for location as well.
A great way to amplify the social strength of the post is to tag people that are featured in the photo. If they are employees at your organization, ask them if they mind tagging themselves in the photo as this will provide reach across each of their own networks in the future. If guests are featured in the photos, it is a good practice to set up a system that allows you to show them to your guests so that they can choose to tag themselves, if desired (or remove themselves if there is a privacy issue).
As an example, think of the current practice on many cruise ships where photos are taken throughout the week and then featured in a particular room in the ship where they can be purchased at very high margins. I know this seems like a tough thing to cut, but trust me, it will be gone soon anyway - people will NOT continue to pay for this. Consider replacing this with monitors where people can see themselves on a Facebook album. Encourage them to tag themselves to share across their networks. This is the best and most efficient marketing you can buy. Best of all, now with Facebook Graph Search, it will live on indefinitely... instead of at the bottom of a sandy suitcase.
What do you think? Are you excited about the opportunities that Facebook Graph Search will open up for your business?