How to Use Facebook Live to Grow Your Business In The Next 90 Days?

The most fun part of my Social Media Championship Programme is where I explain how you can use  Facebook Live, Snapchat Stories, Instagram advertising and LinkedIn marketing to grow your business in exactly 90 days. In this blog, I would love to offer a sneak peek on what the session holds for you. If you are an entrepreneur, Facebook is definitely the place to be. Let’s look at some of the ways you can use Facebook Live to grow your audience.

Life’s a reality show!

All businesses have a story and a personality. And all business should showcase that personal and human side. All marketing efforts usually take that human-ness away from your business. But if you want those loyal customers, you will have to create personal connections. And it’s not possible if all you put out on social media are mechanical, repetitive captions.

That’s the most obvious advantage of going live, hands down. Live videos on Facebook show that your business has personality traits and opinions. They turn out to be real and spontaneous. Your customers and audience will start relating to you and eventually start connecting with you. Trust me; these kinds of connections are business gold.

Sneak a peek

Launching a new product? Made a change to the website? Want to show-off a new feature? All these warrant a Facebook Live Video. Everyone wants to be the first one to find out about a new product or feature, or be the first to see something new. Use Facebook live smartly and use it as a teaser for these features or changes.

Ask for feedback, comments, and even offer promotions for new service. It will create an eager pool of customers willing to try your offering. Amazing, isn’t it?

Behind the Scenes Action

I meet a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs who are hesitant to offer a behind the scenes look of their abodes. But you have to understand, not all offices and workstations are the epitome of perfection. Don’t let that hold you back from showing your fun side.

Maybe the #MannequinChallenge is a hot trend – accept the challenge, grab a camera and shoot a quirky video with your employees in office. Be a sport!

Once your audience sees the work and effort that goes into making your product or enabling your service, they will get the big picture and would want to associate with you. Customers who understand are the best customers.

The most potential for BTS videos lies with hotels and restaurants.

Giveaways

No, I’m not just talking about contests and sweepstakes (that’s a good idea too); I’m talking about educating, motivating, or helping your audience. The more you give, the more comes back to you in amazing ways. For example, you can create a live video of a product tutorial – how best to use it, etc. It shows that you’re not a mad rush to sell products – you actually care for your customers.

You have to find what expertise you can build on, and how you can share that with the audience.

Answer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Customer satisfaction is the basic tenet of any business. And Facebook Live is the modern day equivalent of calls. Users these days post their queries directly on social media. You can create a weekly or fortnightly live video wherein the users can post their questions in comments and your expert can answer them live.

There’s no reason to worry, they are called frequently asked questions for a reason – you wouldn’t have a problem answering them. If not, you can simply cover them in the next video. Live videos don’t have to be perfect!

Improving the Live Videos

While live videos don’t have to be perfect, they can still be improved. You can start by writing attention grabbing and keyword rich descriptions. Since this is what the audience will first see in their newsfeed, it needs to be catchy. Make sure that it is still relevant – the user should find what he expects to see.

For once, live performances can be modified! Once the live stream is over, it will be saved to your profile. You can edit the title, description, and even the video itself.

Now time for your homework! Plan your Facebook Live videos and make sure to implement all these points. I’ve got a lot more to share in my training program, including tips for other social media channels. You can check out the course right here – http://askaviarya.com/training/

Advertising bout – Facebook Ads vs. Google AdWords

Year after year, I get a lot of queries from hotels, restaurants, and small businesses – which one is better between Google Adwords and Facebook Ads?

The fight for the best advertising platform is crucial – there are around 3 billion internet users in the world, and the right platform can make or break your direct revenue stream. Both platforms have knockout punches up their sleeve, and the debate rages on.

While both services have their merits, the benefits differ according to the budget, targeting, and strategic goal.

Check out the battle and find out which competitor you should be using for your hotel.

Round 1 – Budget and Cost per Click (CPC)

Usually, the CPC for Google Adwords is a little higher than Facebook Ads. According to AdEspresso and Wordstream, the average CPC in Q3 of last year was 0.28$ for Facebook, and 2.32$ for Google. If you have an independent hotel, with a small advertising budget, you will get more bangs for buck with Facebook ads. Round 1 goes to Facebook!

Keep in mind that clicks are not everything; there are other factors to consider such as conversions. In many cases, I have seen lower costs per leads through Facebook.

Round 2 – Defining objective

Once you have determined your budgets and costs, plan what you can achieve from this advertising spend. In my experience, Facebook is the best bet for increasing brand awareness and demand generation. However, if you want to capture demand, or generate sales and leads, AdWords is your champion.

The reasoning is simple, with Google; the guest is searching what you want to sell. So the intent to book is already there. But once again, consider all costs first.

Round 3 – Stage in the guest’s journey

Understanding where your potential guest is in the booking journey will also help you decide which platform to go for. If you want to capture guests in the moment of looking to book a stay, Google AdWords is your best bet due to the high level of intent from your audience. However, if you’re trying to bring more awareness or consideration to your offering, then Facebook ads can help you target those with a current or unknown need for your hotels.

This is how both channels can complement and fuel your hotel’s growth!

Round 3 – Service maturity and overall search volume

This point is so obvious; I don’t understand why hoteliers overlook it. If your hotel has a new restaurant or service, and there is very little or no search volume, then Google AdWords, or paid search, will most likely not generate a ton of traffic and therefore is unlikely to perform. Before you rule out AdWords completely in this scenario, you may consider bidding on a series of keywords which describe a problem that new feature solves. My advice is to test out bidding on what your service solves rather than a service that very few have been exposed to.

For example, the Tile app, a Bluetooth tracker, was one of the first apps of its kind. But the keywords “Bluetooth speaker” generated much less results than keywords like “lost my keys”, “find your phone” and “find your wallet”.

In most cases I advise hoteliers to start out on Facebook ads to generate awareness about your rooms, features, and amenities, explain what problem they solve, and develop brand recognition. Then, you’ll generate demand to set you up for more success when it comes to Google AdWords.

Final round –Who wins?

The winner, if you want immediate sales is Google Ads. But if its brand awareness and lead generation that you want, Facebook is the clear winner. Also, after going through these rounds, you will observe that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to online advertising platforms. Before taking a decision, take a step back and analyse what you want to achieve from your investment and your available marketing budget. All other factors are secondary.

If you have read this far, do check out the #AskAviArya show. Click here to watch the episode where I give hacks to measure and calculate your overall digital marketing spend. It will help you get overwhelming ROI response!

Now, promote your hotel through Facebook dynamic ads

If you think social media today is just about socialising, you can’t be more wrong. It has become a boon for businesses of all shapes, sizes to sell more. As your customer evolves in this fast-changing world, guest targeting will ensure that generic banner ads and other forms of display advertising are often ignored, blocked, or replaced by them.

One of the most consumed social media platforms Facebook has over 3 million businesses actively advertising on the platform. If used correctly the medium has the potential to serve almost all major marketing needs of the hospitality industry. With 1.28 billion monthly daily active users, it has become a distinctive platform for hotels to engage with visitors, and influence their decision-making at different stages. So what’s new on the block for marketers in the hotel businesses?

New recommendation tool: Last year Facebook had launched a new “Recommendations” tool to help users look for new experiences, things to do, events, and services based on suggestions from their friends. It can be optimised as a tool for your hotel bookings. Going beyond this Facebook has also announced the soft launch of a trip planning tool within the Facebook app, called City Guides. The app can be used to discover hotels, restaurants, activities and tours in various cities based on recommendations from friends. It doubles up as a planning tool with a “Book Now” button, which is at present being explored by a limited number of restaurants and hotels. But other hotels, restaurants, attractions and tours can all be messaged or called directly through the app.

How to optimise dynamic ads for hotel?

According to a Facebook-commissioned research that I studied, during an average planning period for travel, users spent five times longer on Facebook rather than on travel-related apps, sites and searches. Taking benefit of its insights, Facebook’s industry-specific ad platform, ‘Dynamic Ads for Travel’ also provides significant opportunity to hotels to engage guests with relevant content during the travel research period. Facebook’s own statistics show that consumers make 56 visits to travel-related digital touch points across devices.

This tool helps hoteliers to instantly retarget guests who have evinced interest in their website or mobile app. For example, if a visitor checks a hotel website but doesn’t end up booking, they can be retargeted with a tailored ad that features the exact date they looked along with relevant trip details. This means you can add dynamic elements to your ad creative with relevant information to automatically populate your ad. If a visitor has booked a flight recently, then you can make use of a dynamic ad for a hotel cross-sell opportunity. Now, if the visitor clicks on the “Book Now” call to action, then information about their destination, check-in and check-out dates can be dynamically populated on the landing page they’re directed to. This further brings down the effort to re-enter travel information, while speeding up the time to convert.

The dynamic ad helps you target visitors with high travel intent history – guests traveling alone, in groups or with kids, those who searched for or booked flights recently, but haven’t booked hotels, or high value audiences such as loyalty members. You can also give upgrades or other ancillary experiences to guests who have already booked a flight or hotel. Not just this, you can get more hotel bookings by letting people know about your current availability and by advertising the property and rooms.

Show ads across all ad placements

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) switched to Facebook’s specialized dynamic ads for travel from regular dynamic ads, resulting in a 20% lower cost per booking. Dynamic adverts let you automatically puts advert on Facebook & Instagram to people who have previously shown any interest in visiting your website or mobile app. To tap into the medium’s potential when creating dynamic ads, make sure you select every available ad placement because it allows Facebook’s delivery system to allocate ads budget based on performance across the placements.

Facebook is already an important part of the digital marketing mix for hotels, and I expect that to grow further. As it offers more advanced options, count on me to present you with the latest tips through my blogs and YouTube episodes!

For more titbits of advice, do watch the #AskAviArya show. Here’s the link of my latest episode – http://bit.ly/2tOZ2hX

Cheers!

3 Badass Ways to Nail Facebook Advertising

While Instagram is the future of travel promotions, Facebook still reigns in the present. Its audience targeting features are unmatched, and until other platforms can offer the same features, Facebook will be the biggest marketing puzzle. It is necessary for any marketing campaign – online or offline – and most hoteliers have figured this out by now (I hope).

Being in the industry for so many years now, I have explored hundreds of targeting options and their combinationsto drive prospective guests’ attention towards the hotel and bring them true value. I’ll share my 3 most favourite tools to target the relevant audience in this blog. Read on!

LOCATE opportunities

You can target people in your location on the basis of 4 characteristics. For example, if you want to target people in Mumbai, these are your options –

  1. Everyone in the selected location, for e.g. People who live in Mumbai or it’s their latest location.
  2. Only people who live in Mumbai.
  3. People who have recently been in Mumbai.
  4. A person travelling to Mumbai – their most recent location being Mumbai but their home is hundreds of kilometres away.

The last one is truly fascinating for me. I can combine it with interest targets such as road trips and adventure trips. Next, I can target them with amazing hotel deals near their location. This will bring value to them, and guests to you.

Not just geo-location, you can also target people who are currently travelling through behavioural targeting. They are identified through actions in Facebook such as check-ins and engagement on certain posts, etc. This opens up a world of opportunities for you to target people who are residents of a particular area, but are travelling somewhere in the world at this moment. Grab these opportunities with both hands.

Celebrate meaningful LIFE EVENTS

 This is where Facebook proves to be awesomely insightful. Imagine you change your status to “In a relationship�? and start seeing ads for a week-long getaway in Paris. Or you land a new job, and receive promotional offers at the nearby restaurant.

If your hotel has a store, target the audience which have upcoming birthdays so that they can tag their friends and better halves as a hint of what to get them for their birthdays. The possibilities are endless!

It was also a creative move by Facebook to allow targeting of friends of people who are approaching a specific life event.

Your next guest looks like the current one – LOOKALIKE AUDIENCE

 People just like your guests are waiting to hear from you! You can find and connect with Facebook audiences who are similar to your guests with Facebook Lookalike Audiences. The platform looks at the profile data in your custom audience and creates a new list of users with similar interests and demographics.

It empowers you to use customer information from website and phone app visitors, people who like your page or people in your custom audience. It is created automatically from the sources you upload or connect on Facebook.

I’m really impressed with the way it helps you to effectively connect with people who are more likely to respond to your promotions.

Success story–In May last year, Goibibo ran an ad to increase its app installations. The ad format was “mobile app install�?, and ran simultaneously on Facebook and Instagram. Apart from targeting to 18-45 year olds with an interest in travel, it used website custom audience to retarget ads to people who had already visited their website. Other than this, Goibibo used Lookalike Audiences to find people who resembled those already using the app.

Using these targeting methods, it was able to reach the people who were most likely to become paying customers. As a result, it witnessed an amazing 20x increase in signups, and 15.7x increase in installs.

You too can achieve high growth rates, that too with one month of implementing these targeting methods. With so many different ad formats out there, and ad targets on top of that, I knowit can be hard to decide where to start. But Facebook is a goldmine of data, so don’t be sluggish – hunt for the treasure NOW.

These were just 3 of my favourite targeting tools. For more titbits of advice, do watch the #AskAviArya show. Here’s the link of my latest episode – https://goo.gl/SU8g2S

Cheers!

OK Google, book me a hotel! Or Hey Siri, book me a hotel!

In every blog I write, I try to bring forth new trends that I believe will change your hotel’s marketing landscape. After so many years in the hospitality and digital marketing industry, I know which innovations will click, and which will not.

One such trend is the use of voice search for hotels. It is the core of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and its platforms like Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri and Google Now. They are getting smarter by the day, and learning conversational context. By 2018, 50% of consumers will interact with cognitive computing.

I believe bots will soon eliminate the need for apps. What is the use of app world, when everything is going to be voice activated?

What’s the present scenario?

Voice activated search is already being used by some hotels and OTAs, although the technology is still in its initial stage. KAYAK, a fare aggregator and Meta search engine, last year integrated with Alexa and came up with its own voice activated service. And it’s pretty smart, too. You can look up flights and hotels based on price, availability and dates. You can even ask questions like – “Alexa, can you ask KAYAK where I can stay for under $300?”

Like I said, there’s still a long way to go in the evolution of this technology. For example bookings still need to be completed through taps and clicks. But that’s why it is such a ripe time to invest in this technology.

Let me take you through some of its advantages.

A quicker way to engage

A study by Google found that 20% of queries on its mobile platform are voice searches, and the use of voice assistants has increased by 40%. As I have said repeatedly, mobile is soon going to be the mainstay of hotel searches – and voice based search will become even more popular because of it.

The obvious advantage of it is that clicking will be replaced by talking; allowing a better booking experience for all types of guests, especially last minute bookers. Imagine booking a hotel while you’re packing your bags!

Replacing mass search with curated search

At present, the hotel search experience revolves around offering a huge choice. A simple search turns up hundreds of results. But that’s not very helpful for you, is it?

What I like about voice search is that it offers the opportunity for a more curated approach. It’s better even for the guests, since they can filter and refine the process. Your guest can just ask Alexa or Cortana or whichever platform is integrated, to find a hotel in New Delhi within 5 km of India Gate and which has a swimming pool.

In this case the number of results will be limited, but they will all be relevant to the guest. It is a win-win for hoteliers, OTAs and consumers.

Predictive search

A brilliant thing about Voice Search and the AI behind it is their learning process. Based on past needs, they can make informed suggestions and predictions. For example, Google Now can send an alert on your phone in case you have a flight and there are traffic delays on the route.

The more interactions there are, the more the system learns. This will lead to more helpful, accurate and most importantly, personalized suggestions to the user.

Check out this video of a software demonstration by Viv, an AI platform, of the travel related opportunities of voice search – https://goo.gl/fuKs5Z

What does the future hold?

In the not so distant future, speaking to your phones will be normal. It will become easier for guests to both browse and book hotels. And like I said, instead of choosing from hundreds of generic options, guests will be able to pick from a curated selection.

You will need to adapt to this scenario in order to survive – you will need to be a part of the curated selections of users. Ultimately, you have to be more visible on voice search as well.

Keep following the #AskAviArya show and stay ahead of the game, always. Click here to subscribe to my YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/aviarya?sub_confirmation=1

Cool hotel, bro! Millennials love User Generated Content

It’s no secret that millennials love to travel. They want to indulge in experiences, not materials. But they also want the biggest bang for their buck. And they are taking over the world, quite literally. Millennials are going to be the biggest demographic in the world, and the most important target group for your hotel.

The biggest method to draw them in is to capture and share experiences that they would also like to have. The wanderlust bug bites millennials often, and it travels through social media. They don’t respond to traditional media the way previous generations did.

Let the numbers decide – A survey by Crowdtap and Ipsos reveals that millennials spend 18 hours a day with media in some form or the other and 30% of that is spent on user generated content. 71% of millennials check a social networking site once a day.

How to encourage them to post?

It doesn’t take a lot of effort really. Young guests already share so much on social media about their trip. However, you can influence how and when they post. I will suggest creating and specifying photo opportunities in your hotel to encourage guests.

Other than that, you can hold contests and create specific hashtags.

The 57 Hotel in Australia does a fantastic job of encouraging guests to share selfies taken in their room.

By encouraging guests to use specific hashtags, the hotel can track what has been posted, and share this media with their followers. Every traveller who shares his or her selfie on Instagram is broadcasting to the followers that the 57 Hotel is a great place to stay.

What this approach shows is that you don’t have to just ask for content, you can cultivate it. Add a little incentive. Flatter your dear guests. It all comes down to engagement in the end.

Another great example is Marriott’s Travel Brilliantly campaign.The campaign asked guests not only their posts, but their ideas to improve the hotel experience.

An Integrated Approach to User Generated Content

User generated content is a brilliant way to increase authenticity among travellers on social media platforms. Why not take this one step further by integrating it into the website. Loews Hotels is leading the way with their #TravelForReal campaign.

They prompt patrons to share images of their stay by using #TravelForReal, then sharing good images on social media and website. Some great ones are even used in their online and print advertising (with due permission). The images are overlaid with the text “Everybody Needs – ___”. Each image fills in the blank to better communicate the hotel’s story.

How to Add User Generated Content to Your Website

Adding user generated content to your website helps build trust and authenticity around your brand. It also provides you with a regular stream of new content for your website without much effort. What’s more, a study found that visitors to websites that include User Generated Content galleries spend 90% more time on site, which is crucial because the longer someone stays on your page, the higher the chances of booking are.

If you don’t have an agency, you can use any of the free tools or applications available that you can use to curate a social media feed, including posts from your own social media accounts, as well as posts from others that use your particular hashtag.

Invest time in deciding which hashtag to use for your hotel and how you will promote it (both digital and offline). Your hashtag should be specific to your hotel and match your property’s unique story. To prompt guests to start using your hashtag, make sure first you’re using it in all of your own posts. Run a social media contest or even better, take cue from the 57 Hotel and suggest photo opportunities in the hotel itself. In no time you will have an army of storytellers producing trustworthy content that resonates with travellers.

Once this is done, take inspiration from The Flanders Hotel in New Jersey. They have used ‘Juicer’ to put together elements from social media feed into their website. Each post gives a sneak peek into what a typical day is like at The Flanders Hotel, like yoga, shows, wedding functions, parties, etc. to reach and appeal to more guests.

Hotel brands, whether luxury or boutique, independent, etc. should all collaborate with social media users with a strategy in mind.  Look for prospects which match with your brand’s personality, and can act as potential ambassadors for millennials. If you are not already in this game, now is the time to dive in.

Well, that’s all for today folks! Now, go ahead and try these out for size, and let me know how you fared at them! For more, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel – https://goo.gl/jISycf