Chris Preston, CEO and founder of Preston Media and Success
Diaries joins me today for an interesting conversation about social media. We
learn some expert tips to increase followers and engagement on Instagram.
Chris enlightens us about his own journey and how he has been able
to acquire success on social media. He says first and foremost you focus on
changing your profile picture and keeping it constant on all platforms. Next,
setting a particular strategy and using a similar font and color in the posts
will create personal branding and your account will be recognized anywhere. Not
being random in your posts makes a lot of difference. For personal branding,
one should also try taking more interviews and videos.
My next question to him – What are some of things you found on
social media along the way that have helped you in increasing the reach?
– Staying to up to date with new trends.
– Being a part of various groups and engaging with people over there.
– One of the most important strategy Chris understood is – CROSS PROMOTION
Resharing posts of other people and tagging them helps in making
connections and increase your network. Sending people a DM and asking them if
they would be interested in collaborating also helps a lot.
– Don’t repeat the same hashtags. Try and use different hashtags
in every post and using hashtags like “#like4like” can put you into the spam
list or get you banned.
– Building a community and genuine connection is very important.
Chris also tells us how his wife has been supportive of him all
throughout his journey and is truly proud of his success. She’s always believed
in him and his vision.
think that’s the most important part of anyone’s success – to surround yourself
with people who support you and love you.
If I were to explain what transformation means, I would love to
take you to the example of the changing face of travel in India. Yes, I am
referring to the revolutionary Digital India campaign that has converted an
average Indian into a travel freak. Until the past couple of years, pleasure
travel was no less than a distant dream for an average Indian. It was hard to
find the Indian blood travelling to countries abroad for vacations. Caught in
the daily 9 to 5 grind, a majority of my friends in India would rarely take the
pains of visiting a travel agent to find answers to all their travel related
queries. A travel plan was a herculean task for their families and it remained
confined to either those who were super affluent, NRIs or were sponsored for
business trips. But, not anymore! Connecting the dots with a mere introduction
of online accessibility to enquiry and bookings, Digital India Campaign has
revolutionized the face of travel within the country. While digitization of
payments is one big factor converting Indians into travel freaks, the rise of
Online Travel Alliances and social media marketing are other agents
contributing to this change. Let’s talk about some of them in detail here:
Travel Choices: By now, this has become needless to speak
about how internet has changed lives across the globe. However, in context of
the travel face of the Indian population, you might have much more to uncover,
realise and be delighted about. Statistics reveal that Indians aged between 26
and 40 extensively search the internet for all their business and leisure
travels, comparing merits of destinations vis. a vis., finding the perfect
hotel choices that are pocket-friendly as well as quality driven. Well, why
this amazes the world so much is the velocity at which this transformation
showed up. Information or rather in-depth details of destinations, both
domestic as well as abroad, keep pouring in the moment you key a search. Ah!
Isn’t that just so awesome?
Travel Alliances: The online travel alliances or the OTAs
such as Trivago, TripAdvisor, etc., have been the biggest boon to the Indian
travel industry. We all want to fall back at someone who is responsible enough
for handling all our tedious stuff. This, even when it may cost a little extra.
That’s exactly how it has worked for the travel industry in India. These OTAs
assure you that they will take care of everything that falls within your sphere
of requirements while promising to keep you informed about every bit of it.
Right from booking your air tickets to organising a stay, food, local travel as
well as shopping, etc., they aim at being your companion in a destination,
which is otherwise alien to you.
3) Social Media Marketing: Much
before you begin to search about a destination or even a hotel choice, you may
end up seeing a suite of options on your social channels. Have you experienced
this too? You last searched for Malaysia and your Facebook wall shows you much
more about Malaysia as well as Thailand the very next hour…. Well, I am not
just talking about the ads, I am referring to the recommendations as well. What
makes it even better is that most of this information is driven by genuine
reviews and experiences of past travellers. And, why not, after all, this info
walks down to you automatically, without you even asking for it. In addition,
when you travel to a destination, you are mostly up for providing a feedback
about it – whether good or bad – you wouldn’t mind rating your experience if
someone asks you. Social media, that powerfully manages communication between
friends, strangers and not-so-strange people, has emerged as a change agent too
for the Indian travel sector.
4) Digitization of Payment: Given all of the
above change agents leading to the digital revolution in the country and
awakening a generation full of well-informed, net savvy travellers, it is
pertinent to take into account the role of online payments too. The
digitization of payments via several payment wallets, forget about cashless
transactions even, is one huge factor altering the travel economics in India a
big way. The demonetization conundrum that surfaced in 2016 was a big boost to
the eWallets like Paytm and others.
of travel in India is now a blend of technology, dream realizations, stress
relief and a status symbol. Indians never thought of travel in such an
uncomplicated way as a majority of them do now. The digital India campaign has
empowered travel decisions by enabling Indians choose faster and travel more.
Exponential growth in technology has entered a
new trajectory where businesses can incorporate advanced innovations into their
business strategies to experience new heights of success. One obvious example
in hospitality industry of new effective technology is virtual tour. It is a
tool to attract more travelers to encourage them to make hotel bookings. But,
what exactly is virtual tour and why hotels are creating virtual tour?
With so many hotels-independent as well as
hotels belonging to chains- competing to gain more customers than others and
stay ahead in the competition, it becomes necessary to take advantage of
technology to lure travelers by making them aware of the luxury accommodation
and modern services the property is offering, and turn them into loyal guests.
Being a hotelier, I have observed that guests
spend a long time online searching and comparing hotels before booking
accommodation. They want to make sure that the hotel they are choosing for
their stay is clean, spacious and equipped with all modern facilities. Although
most hotels have their official website where they mention everything about the
property, including information on accommodation, services and their pictures,
many hoteliers have started offering hotel virtual tour on the website.
Hotel virtual tour is a powerful method that
hotels can use to provide their website visitor an opportunity to explore their
property through 360-degree walk-through. Rather than hotel images, people can
move within the hotel rooms and other area of the hotel while sitting miles
away from the place. It not just provides transparency but also satisfies
travelers about a hotel before making bookings.
Text is powerful and a picture speaks thousand
words, but a virtual tour offers much more than that to a hotel.
Benefits of Hotel Virtual
There are benefits behind the method that makes
it immensely popular among hoteliers.
Increases view time on
website: According to a recent survey, hotel websites offering virtual tour
have 5% to 10% longer view time than the sites without a virtual tour option.
It has also increased the hotels’ revenue by more than 135%. The study also
revealed that hotels have experienced more than 40% sales after applying
virtual tour on their websites.
Save guests’ time and boost
bookings: More than 90% of modern-day travelers say 360-degree view of
a hotel saves their time and satisfies them about the hotel’s services. Instead
of going through every section of a hotel’s website to know if it has all the
facilities that you are looking for, a virtual tour takes you to a particular
area of the hotel to ensure your preferred amenities. For example, an
individual on business tour can virtually visit the conference of meeting room
section of the hotel to check if it’s suitable to hold a business meeting.
bookings: In OTAs-dominated world, hotel virtual tour can take potential
guests towards official website of a hotel to make bookings. It is because
virtual tour facility increases traffic on the website and make visitor stick
to it for a long time. When they spend some time on the website, they prefer
booking accommodation through the same medium.
Gain attention on social
media: Virtual tour of hotel’s official website can be shared on social
media to reach many potential guests at one time. It will differentiate your
hotel from others and engage people in a new way.
How to Create Hotel Virtual
should use high-tech tools with ultra-wide-angle lens to generate
panoramic images of the hotel.
tour software should be used to make it look professional. Among different
virtual tour software, pick one based on reviews and your requirement.
you start creating virtual tour, decide the hotel locations to show. In
addition, determine the areas to be highlighted and how they should be
presented to online viewers.
virtual tour with text to make guests aware of all hotel services and
With so many people traveling to different areas
for different purposes, it becomes essential to lure them with attractive
services. Hotel virtual tour is a way to tell them the property is clean,
spacious and luxurious. It will not just help your first impression on
customers, but may also result into high conversion rates.
Samir Kuckreja, Founder and CEO of Tasanaya Hospitality Pvt Ltd.
joins me for an interesting take on how the hospitality industry and
restaurants can become more tech savvy. We also talk about their presence on
various social media platforms.
He puts forward valuable and quantitative points as to how to
properly optimize the costs and be patient when it comes to marketing a new
restaurant. We discussed an important question everyone would be interested in
– If you are a young entrepreneur who is passionate about opening a new food
outlet in your hotel, what should be your main focus?
Samir suggests to focus on the basics and start with tech at the
back-end for optimizing cost, menu analysis, staff productivity and various
other aspects. Marketing your product on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn is also
an essential part of the whole process. Zomato is one of the most successful
platforms to start with when it comes to the food outlets even for the hotel
more about the technological aspects and new advertising trends for
entrepreneurs in this episode.
are now relevant across all popular social media channels! The hashtagging
practice that overwhelmed the Twitter lovers a while ago, led many of us laugh
it out to see how they began to use the hashtags on LinkedIn too. But, what
now? These hashtagging lovers have proven digital marketing strategists like me
wrong. Indeed, it’s THE TREND now and like several leading sectors, Travel
Industry is up for it too.
of us, irrespective of what we do, wear the travellers’ shoes off and on. We
travel for fun, for business and sometimes out of a necessity. Here, the
greatest need that the industry players need to fulfil is provide easy access
to booking and information. But, the responsibilities do not end there. They
need to connect with the customers. Similar to how a customer remains in search
of the most suitable service, a service provider too keeps searching for the
ideal or at least needy customer. The travel hashtags have a significant role
to play here.
are the threads that connect conversations on social media. When there are
millions of posts going up every second across different channels, how would a
hotelier or a service provider in the travel industry ensure that it reaches
the right audience. It’s the hashtags that connect them.
the business, you need to learn to leverage travel hashtags. Right from
identifying the popular ones to using them on the relevant channels, you need
to get the game of hashtagging right to resonate well with your customers.
mentioned are some common hashtags for you to know. But these are good only to
start with when you want to maintain an initial list of some relevant ones.
These have to be customized for different channels.
Hashtags for Different Channels
social media channel is different. Hashtags vary with variation in the audience
and the trends. You need to understand that hashtags are sometimes paid too.
So, they will always vary for channels. Your strategist has to identify these
by searching through the channels and imbibing them within your content
tactfully to improve your visibility.
are a company of 2000+ employees, it is a great idea to have a hashtag under
your brand name. And each of these employees must keep posting across Twitter,
Instagram or even Facebook regularly without missing out on using your brand
hashtag. This will help you build an identity. When a reader searches your name
with a hashtag, they will be able to see all your posts on that specific
channel with a single click. This works pretty much similarly when you wish to
popularize an event where you can create event-based hashtags.
hospitality has a lot to do with destination identification for a traveller, as
a hotelier, you have an edge for traffic spiking. The destination hashtags more
or less remain the same as the names remain consistent. So, you can pick the
most popular destination hashtags of your location and include them within your
understand social media curation strategy, you must have been crediting the
third-party content sources for writing good content. You can encourage them to
use your travel hashtags in their posts to improve your visibility.
You need to be mindful of using
only relevant hashtags in a post and keep the overall hashtag density moderate.
When you key in a number of hashtags in a single post, you may end up losing
out on a potential reader who finds your content irrelevant. You can solve this
by capping the number of hashtags you use on each channel. Ideally, three
hashtags are good enough for Twitter, for instance, On the other hand, you can
use more than five hashtags on Instagram for the same post. You need to also
test it out and measure a bit to understand what is working for you and what
not. So, let’s get it rolling!
Year after year, I get a lot of queries from hotels, restaurants,
and small businesses – which one is better between Google Adwords and Facebook
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
Round 3 – Service maturity and overall search
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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/