Purpose; The internet has forced companies to transform themselves to be more interactive, innovative and efficient as the online consumer is more active, demanding and in control; if unhappy about a service the hotel’s reputation c an be damaged as negative information posted online is instant and public; sharing their opinion with hundreds of thousands of potential customers. However, savvy marketers are increasingly using social media to let guests sell their hotels, which is authentic marketing at its best. Marketers need to implement dedication, time and resources in social media marketing to be successful and stay ahead of their competitors; most hotels lack the resources required to effectively implement social marketing strategies.
Methodology; This paper integrates triangulation to ensure all views of social media marketing are portrayed; three hotel marketing managers were questioned, consumers on PollDaddy answered polls and the role of the practitioner research was undertaken to analyse Cedar Court’s Facebook campaign. Secondary research was used to develop recommendations for the effective use of social media marketing.
Findings; This paper presents the results of an exploratory study on the different perspectives of social media marketing. It was found that some hotels have more developed social media marketing strategies than others but all are willing to learn and develop. Consumers had mixed opinions on social media marketing which lead to calls for recommendations to be derived from secondary research for the effective use of social media marketing.
Research Limitations; More time was needed to research and analyse the Facebook campaign and a payable account was needed on PollDaddy to increase the exposure of the polls.
Value; Social media marketing is a fairly new trend; it will be a key factor in the future of marketing; Large hotels like Hilton and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts have fully integrated social media into their marketing strategy, but for most hotels the difficulty is not only where to begin, but who to use and what to do; this paper will significantly impact how hotels market on social media sites. Keywords; Social Media, Marketing, Hotels, Effective, Participation, Interaction
2. Context & Objectives
Long before the Internet, people shared their opinions of products with friends and family through word of mouth; ‘a happy guest tells five others; an unhappy guest tells 9-10 others.’ (Kennedy, 2009) Nowadays, consumers are spending more and more time on social network sites where they can broadcast their experiences directly online via social media sharing their opinion with hundreds of thousands of potential customers; hotel marketers need to reach these communities and interact with them to stay competitive.
TIG Global (2009) describes how the internet has changed marketing; ‘what was once an efficient one way communication tool has evolved into an interactive two way communication device.’ The internet is forcing companies to transform themselves to be more interactive, innovative and efficient. Kozinets (1999, p254) discussed that ‘online consumers are not merely passive recipients of consumption information but active creators’; consumers are now in control. The information the consumers post is instant and public; giving them the opportunity to be heard in large numbers. Marketers need to form alliances with these online consumer communities as it is the dawn of customer engagement; ‘Engaged customers spend more money and come back more often.’ (Mclean, 2008) Social media marketing requires participation, interaction and dedication (Raza, 2006); time, commitment and resources are essential for the efficient use of social media marketing; however most hotels lack the resources required to effectively implement social marketing strategies. Most hotels either don't do social...