Facebook is presenting your hotel with a PRIME opportunity to extend your reach, build your fan base and drive your return on investment with Graph Search. This dynamic new search tool is in limited beta testing in the US now, which is the perfect window of opportunity for hotels to gear up to take advantage of Graph Search’s full launch.
Why Hotels Should Care About Graph Search
Graph Search is a way for Facebook users to search images, people and pages in a highly dynamic way. According to the Facebook site, Graph Search will help you “Find more of what you’re looking for through your friends and connections”. Results are completely individual and driven by users’ friends, location and interests. A sample search for “People who like cycling and live in Seattle, Washington” would return results like this:
Facebook Graph Search – Sample Friends Image Search
Graph Search can also be used to discover pages, restaurants, hotels, businesses and services that you may like based on your friend’s interactions. A search for “Restaurants in London my friends have been to” returned these results:
Facebook Graph Search – Sample Places Restaurant Search
This can be very valuable for hotels and restaurants since consumer buying decisions are heavily influenced by recommendations of friends and family. How can you increase your hotel’s chances of being included in Graph Search results?
Facebook Search Rankings
Facebook currently uses an algorithm called EdgeRank to determine which posts are displayed in a user’s News Feed. There’s speculation Open Graph will use a similar method to rank search results based on page or app activity including:
- Fan base size and activity level
- Number of check-ins
- Location of the user searching
- Relevancy to the user and the user’s friends
This makes healthy fan activity on your page extremely important. It will increase your chances of being included in Graph Search results. Now is the time to optimize your page for the full public roll-out of Graph Search. This list of action steps will help your property prepare.
Update Your About Information
It’s crucial your “About” information is accurate so you’re returned in the correct results. You don’t want your San Antonio, Texas hotel returned in results for San Antonio, Venezuela and excluded from Texas because your address is not correct.
- Verify your location is optimized so you appear in the geographical-based searches correctly
- Check the three categories to which you are associated. Use all three – if you have a food and beverage operation, include those
- Include a detailed description of your services including keywords
- Outline your hours of operation and any other detailed relevant information
- Include information about your meeting/event space and catering services
- Include a link to your vanity or brand website, your property’s TripAdvisor page -any piece of information that will improve your chances of being included in search results
Share, Share, Share
Images still receive the most interaction from fans as shown by numerous research studies. Here’s one simple graphic from Track Social that drives this point home.
Include images in as many posts as possible. Focus on images that will garner the highest fan engagement. Follow these guidelines:
- Images that originate from you should be high-quality and should reflect brand values
- Look for opportunities to capture candid images that show the personality of your property, staff and guests
- Consider putting several management team members in charge of candid image recon
- Modern mobile phones and apps like Instagram make capturing and editing solid images fairly straightforward
- Encourage your fans to capture and post candid images of them at your property
- Use Instagram hashtags to easily attach the images to your property’s assets and retrieve and use them later when you’re ready (You’ll need an Instagram profile to do this)
Grab and be tagged in lots of great candid guest images and your property will show up in searches all over the place like this…free advertising!
Sample Graph Search – Image Search
From a hotel and restaurant perspective, the search of Check-ins within Graph Search could be one of its most promising features. This will allow users to identify services and places their friends have visited or liked.
Imagine a couple is planning a weekend getaway to the wine country. They may perform a search like “Hotels in the California wine country my friends have been to”. The more fans you’ve had check in to your California wine country property, the more likely you are to show in the results. Now is the time to drive check-ins. Here are some creative ideas you can implement to encourage fans to check-in to your hotel on Facebook:
- On-property messaging with counter cards, key packet-inserts, elevator signage, etc. Contact All Things Hospitality for cost effective print options on eco-friendly GoGreen paper stocks.
- Use in-room collateral with creative messaging like “Now that you’re settled in, it’s time to check-in”
- Remind guests at every interaction to check-in and like your page – remind them of the incentives to do so
- Provide incentives for check-in – think of the cost as part of your advertising budget…advertising with endless reach that will work for you virally! (Example: We saw a check–in at one property reach over 5,000 users on Facebook in one day BEFORE Graph Search.)
- Visit our blog in the coming weeks for great ideas for driving check-ins
Build Your Fan Base
With the existing EdgeRank algorithm, the more popular your page is, the more likely you are to appear in your fans’ News Feed. Graph Search will work in much the same way, with popularity of your page weighting the results. Focus on building your fan base through creative means. Check back next week for our post “Grass Roots Efforts to Build Your Hotel’s Social Media Fan Base”.
Prep Your Profile Image
Your profile photo will appear in search, so ensure it:
- Has a strong visual connection to your brand
- Does not blend with your cover photo and is 620X620 pixel resolution
- Include a product shot if your brand isn’t well known.
- If you’re a restaurant, include an image that’s representative of your menu or ambiance
- If you’re part of a larger brand like Marriott, include a property-specific term like your location to distinguish you from other locations
Facebook Graph Search – Sample Places Search Result
Graph Search makes engagement more important than ever. Before the launch of Graph Search, encouraging users to interact with you in these key ways will increase the likelihood that you appear in search results for your services. Optimizing your page now will help ensure your success later.
Need help optimizing your page or preparing for the full launch of Graph Search? Need help managing social media in general? Contact All Things Hospitality for a free Facebook page analysis. We offer full service Social Media Management for hotels along with a full line of marketing services for hotels. We would love to help you get your social media house in order!