As marketers, we look for trends – not to keep pace with everyone else – but to stand out from the pack. There is a tendency to maintain the status quo, but in doing so, we fall behind. The question is, how can we evaluate trends to identify new opportunities to effectively communicate with our target audience? Not just focusing on what is trendy right now, but taking a more strategic approach to what is going to be more effective.
Competition is stiff and our target audiences are endlessly bombarded with messaging. As evidenced by this year’s Adrian Awards, we saw a huge uptick in social media campaigns and the ways in which we tap into the various resources now available to us. YouTube videos have made way for shorter, more targeted social videos on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. This past year, Instagram launched IGTV, designed to compliment the content you already have on the core platform, but also to compete with the more robust YouTube channel. There are pros and cons to each, and it is important to carefully evaluate which is a more beneficial platform – could be both, could be neither. What works for one brand may not work for another.
On a social platform such as Instagram that thrives with the “show me, don’t tell me” formula, the hospitality industry stands to benefit from this from an experiential marketing perspective. If you attended the HSMAI Greater New York Chapter’s March luncheon program, “Traveler Trends and Booking Behaviors,” you know that more and more travelers are motivated by images they see on social media. They are even more inclined to share their experiences via social media, making it an extremely effective tool, when implemented properly. It behooves us to give guests the tools they need to share their experiences, elevating them into brand ambassadors.
It is imperative to take a step back and evaluate what is the right channel and path for your brand. Effective marketing is so much more than creating compelling content. Identify and evaluate the most effective channel for your brand to reach your target audience, while also keeping an eye on what’s next. David Ogilvy once said that even the most clever campaign is useless if your target audience never sees it.
A clearly defined and executed strategy creates measurable economies of scale. It’s not only a matter of tapping into the social tools that are right for your brand and your target audience, but the messaging must also tie in directly to your brand.
All too often there is a push to post for the sake of posting, without taking that critical step of mapping out a messaging strategy with clear goals and metrics for achieving those goals. For example, we know that travelers want to know more about what is available to them, not only on property, but within the destination as well. The notion of selling the destination should never lose sight of the brand at the core of its messaging. In a highly competitive urban destination such as New York City, it is critical to sell the property first and the destination second. At the very least, it should closely tie in to the brand’s messaging. Show them the unrivaled experience they will have as a result of staying at your property.
In the creation of videos, every marketers dream is to create the quintessential viral video. Along with the increase in social videos across the board, the need to stand out will become more critical. This should never come at the price of devaluing your brand or potentially offending your target audience, as we have seen with major brands such as Dove and Pepsi.
As with any other method of communication, social media must stay true to the brand’s core messaging. But know that social strategies are not static. What works today may not work tomorrow. Social media is constantly evolving. New channels enter the market while others disappear. Take, for example, Google+. Individuals and brands jumped on board without knowing why, other than they felt they had to, and without knowing what it meant for the brand. A clear example of why it is so important to evaluate whether the channel is right for your brand. Are there tools you can be using to set your brand apart from your competition? Are there new opportunities on the horizon that make more sense for your brand? What’s next in the digital/social space? What’s next for your core audience?
The formula is basic but critical. Map, measure, analyze, repeat.
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