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How to Measure the ROI of Social Media

publication date: Oct 9, 2012
author/source: Neil James

Answers to your Questions: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media Webinar

Answers to your questions about Measuring ROI in Social Media

Clearly we struck a chord with our latest webinar topic, In the Hot Seat: How to Measure ROI in Social Media. Hundreds of hoteliers from around the world tuned in, and there were so many questions we too felt like we were in the hot seat.

Here are answers to some of attendees’ questions from our hosts Daniel Edward Craig and Josiah Mackenzie. Special thanks again to our guest experts, Mitchell Fawcett of O’Neill Hotels & Resorts and Martin Soler of WIHP.

Q: Why do you think 36% don’t measure ROI? Is it because they don’t give it the importance they should or another reason?

Daniel: This question is in reference our webinar poll (see results below). The short answer? Because it’s difficult to measure ROI. Data comes from disperse sources and rarely reveals a clear, direct path to bookings. The benefits go beyond revenue generation, of course, but softer metrics like engagement and customer service are also difficult to track. However, analytics skills have become an essential skill for hoteliers. We’re hoping this webinar recent article will help.
Poll Results
Q: Is it even realistic to strive for ROI on social media … when so many referrals/endorsements are still by verbal word of mouth or separate email rather than online within Facebook & Twitter, etc?

Josiah: While attribution tracking may seem overwhelming at first, there are a number of compelling reasons to use the ROI tracking strategies we recommended:

1. To go beyond high-level trends and understand the impact of social media on your hotels specifically
2. To guide strategy and planning decisions
3. To convince the executive team of the resources you need
4. To make smart choices about prioritizing time and resources once you obtain those resources
5. To get the buy-in of everyone participating by demonstrating the value and how it will help each person with their job

Put some type of measurement structure in place, and test to see if it’s working for you. If not, you may have to try a few new things. But don’t give up on the goal of measuring the benefits you get from social media.

Q: What do you mean by “vanity metrics”?

Daniel: Vanity metrics, also known as volume metrics, are simple measures of social activity like the number of followers, likes and page views. They provide a partial and sometimes distorted view. More important is how engaged followers are and how likely they are to share content, to recommend your brand and to stay at your hotel.

We recommend creating a weekly or monthly metrics report that includes social, website and review analytics and tracking not only volume metrics but engagement, virality, shares, comments, service requests, leads and conversions. Track the results of individual content and campaigns too to determine what drives the best results.

During the webinar Mitchell Fawcett said he uses Facebook Insights and Hootsuite to analyze social activity. He also recommends this Facebook Insights guide. For more info about Hootsuite click here. For more about website and review analytics see below.

Q: How can we find out about the online booking path of our clients?

Daniel: As Martin Soler discussed, Google Analytics recently rolled out several tools for analyzing social activity on your website. The Social Visitors Flow feature allows you to track the interplay between your website and Facebook, Twitter, your blog and other social sites. To get real numbers on conversions you’ll need to set up goals and implement eCommerce tracking on your website.

Martin also discussed how the analytics tools of his company, WIHP, go deeper by tracking the complete path to conversion across the web, from initial search to final booking. Facebook is increasingly showing up on the booking path, he said. Also of note is that visitors from social networks tend to shop less and convert more quickly.

Q: How to find out if someone is talking about our hotel on Facebook? Is there a tool to track it? And how do you search Facebook posts and tweets for keywords like “wi-fi” and “internet?”

Josiah: Posts on Facebook can be private or public, depending on the privacy settings. For posts on pages and public profiles, there are many social media tools that can monitor conversations by keyword (including the saved social searches function ReviewPro offers).

Q: How do you recommend organizing and tracking campaigns and content on social networks?

Daniel: Aside from using analytics tools from Hootsuite, Facebook, Google and YouTube, as well as ReviewPro to manage reviews and reputation, I like how Mitchell uses a “Conversation Calendar” to track social content.

Said Mitchell, “A month in advance I plan out a conversation calendar for each of my hotels, making sure it’s a good balance of frequency, topics and so on. I look at the past month to see the performance of each individual post. Right away I start to notice trends … I keep these things in mind when planning ahead. I learn what works and refine my content planning.”

Conversation Calendar

Q: Facebook recently added Facebook Offers. Do you think it is a good idea to use Facebook as a selling point and not just for socializing and making the customer more loyal?

Mitchell: When using Facebook to promote offers, balance is key. When planning your content through a monthly conversation calendar, ensure that the primary focus is on engaging and sharable content, and that any offers are well spaced out. Studies show that many consumers choose to connect with brands on social media in order to receive deals and discounts, so there’s no harm in some “selling.” You can even position it as a way of rewarding your fans for their loyalty, and the offers you promote can be exclusive rates, upgrades, etc.

Facebook recently started charging for Offers. For a good overview, see How to Use Facebook Offers.

Q: Social investment is hard to quantify. When determining the true ROI on free marketing how much is your time worth?

Josiah: This is a fairly straightforward calculation if you base it on the amount you are paying your team members involved in social media. For owners, executives, and people building new hotel brands, it gets a bit trickier. The opportunity cost may exceed salaries or other compensation. In many ways, time is more valuable than money.

Smart hoteliers invest their time in doing things that technology cannot do. Technology can aggregate conversations and provide insight into trends – but only you can build relationships and understand what the data means for your organization.

Q: Do the same tips and tricks presented apply to small, independent establishments such as small B&Bs, guesthouses and hostels?

Daniel: I think the guidelines we discussed apply for all types of accommodation, from B&Bs to big brands. Obviously the more resources you have the deeper you can dig, but tracking basic activity, engagement and feedback on your website, social networks and review sites will help hotels of any size make smarter decisions on strategy and resource allocation.

Josiah: Often the issue with smaller properties is the amount of data there is to work with. The more social media activity available for analysis, the more accurate the results are and more insightful the reporting will be. If you don’t have hundreds of people talking about your property in social media each week, I recommend taking a step back and looking at social media data around a larger concept – what people say about boutique properties in your city, for example. Or track competitors. Or track travel-themed conversations of the people who are likely to book a room at your property. The larger your perspective, the more data you have to work with – and the more interesting the insights will be.

Q: Regarding ReviewPro’s Quality Seal and review feed function, can you choose which reviews to post? Why should I include guest reviews on my own website?

Josiah: For many hotels, the most common reason visitors leave their website is to check guest feedback on online review sites. ReviewPro’s review feed function provides the option to share all reviews from more than 100+ review sites – or just hand-picked pieces of feedback.

Sharing snippets of all reviews can build trust, while curating that review feed gives more control over how the hotel is presented. Whichever option you choose, the important thing is to allow your happiest guests to do the selling by using their feedback as part of your online sales process. Try this, and then measure the increase your hotel gets in better conversion rates and higher overall sales.

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