I know a lot of you are using social media to great effect and it is adding real benefits to your Holiday Park businesses – but on a couple of recent seminar outings there were still a few sceptics in the audience that thought all of this “online chat” was a complete waste of time – and certainly couldn’t see how it would fit in with their day-to-day working.
This isn’t an article intended for the social media converted – although I hope you will stick around and maybe you will find a couple of golden nuggets that makes the read worthwhile.
So, here we go….. I’m going to take a look at each one of the main social media tools in turn and try and give a brief overview, how they are different from the others and how you might use it within a Holiday Park context. I have included some real examples along the way – and you can make your own mind up at the end of the article.
How Twitter is unique
Twitter is often described as a microblogging tool – something similar to making a blog post, but a lot, lot shorter – 140 characters in fact.
- Facebook: A tweet is like a short Facebook status update. However, with Twitter, every tweet arrives is displayed on every follower’s feed – unlike Facebook, which uses something called EdgeRank to decide if your update is filtered out (but more on that later).
- Pinterest: Twitter allows you to share photographs as part of a tweet – a bit like sending an attachment with an email. It also means you can have a conversation around a shared image. Pinterest on the other hand is more about sharing an image that you like but without too much comment.
- LinkedIn: A tweet is like a short LinkedIn status update. While LinkedIn is based on a trusted 2-way relationship, Twitter allows you to follow anyone, including strangers. You may think this all sounds a little “stalker-ish” – but is extremely useful when you are targeting potential customers.
- Google+: A tweet is like a short Google+ status update. Twitter also allows you to organise people into lists that organise conversations similar to Google+ groups.
- YouTube: Yes, you can send a link to a video within a tweet. However, Twitter doesn’t allow you to create a channel or organize your videos for easy location and commentary. Twitter recently launched a video App called Vine which allows you to tweet a six second video clip –one to watch out for this year!
So why bother with Twitter? The truth is that your Park customers are out there!
What you can use Twitter for
- Customer service
Many Parks have taken a leaf out of big businesses and use Twitter to connect with their customers directly. Having direct access to feedback, compliments and complaints can give you an insight into how your customers feel about your Park and the services you offer. It also provides a great way to show off when you customers are complimentary, or the opportunity to publicly bring dissatisfied customers back on board and demonstrate that they care.
Vauxhall Holiday Park is a five star family run holiday and touring park, situated in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. They are using Twitter to talk to their customers directly, help with enquiries and address problems.
I wouldn’t advise getting into an intense Twitter conversation regarding a problem – better to acknowledge it and take the matter offline. Looking out for Twitter conversations will also help you to understand what your customers (or potential customers) really think ;0)
**Note – if you are going to promote a Twitter address then be prepared to resource it. Many people use Twitter like a text message or email and therefore expect a timely response. In a recent online survey 55% of users expect a response via Twitter or Facebook within four hours.
- To keep one eye on your competitors and your local Twittersphere
Looking for some inspiration, or want to find out why the Park down the road always seems busy in the shoulder months? Keeping an eye on your competitors Twitter feed or having a regular Twitter search set up on their Park name might give you a bit of a steer. Twitter is the perfect tool for being just that little bit nosey.Want to find out who followers your competitors? That’s easy – just have a look at their “followers” – and get connecting! If you’re having trouble building a local following, the Follower list of the local Twitter big wigs is a great place to start.Ever wondered how some Parks are always mentioned in the Press? Set up a regular Twitter search (or use Tweetdeck) for #journorequest. Journalists have turned to this simple form of announcement when looking for businesses and individuals to take part in press pieces or TV shows.
- Get Specific Answers and Advice from a Knowledgeable Pool
Twitter is a great place to ask questions and get specific advice. Whether you are looking for the best applicant for a new Park job, what band to book for the next activity weekend or what are the most important things to your customers on a wet day on your Park – the Twittersphere has opinions and they aren’t afraid to use them.The more followers you have, the more answers you’ll get, obviously—but if you can get a few more popular followers, you can often get your question retweeted and get a lot of good advice back.
Twitter is a popular space for Park owners to mingle and keep tabs on the key players in the industry. It is also a great tool to stay connected with suppliers in your area or further afield.Keep an eye out for the @BHHPA (https://twitter.com/BHHPA) Twitter feed where you will find lots of industry news being tweeted. The Following list of existing customers is a great resource for finding opinion leaders, your competitors and potential new customer leads.
As of March 2013 Facebook had 1.11 billion users. No matter how you slice it that’s a whole lot of people who use Facebook. With a platform like Facebook having that many users it only makes sense to market your Park there.
The right Park Facebook page, which targets the right people (i.e. those people looking to enjoy a great Park holiday), will increase engagement, drive traffic to your website or blog, and increase your chances of getting a booking.
Given that’s the whole point of it all, here are a few simple tips on how you can enhance your Facebook page to maximise engagement and drive traffic to your site:
- Just like doing the washing up at home, posting content on Facebook is something you need to do every day
Engagement from your Facebook followers is your number one priority – and the key to getting people to visit your Facebook page is to always have new content. From our experience, your daily posts don’t have to be the be all and end all of Facebook posts; they just need to engage with your readers. Remember, people are looking for a reason to visit your page. If you don’t have fresh content they will forget about you and move on.But there is also another reason – getting someone to like your Facebook page is the starting point, Facebook has something up its sleeve called EdgeRank. It is a simple filtering system that checks a person’s Facebook timeline for what posts they are liking and commenting on – and then delivers more of the same.
- EdgeRank explained – (or why it’s important to keep posting regularly)
So, imagine Jo has visited your website and found your Facebook link. She has clicked through to Facebook and liked your page. Any content that you post will be shown in her timeline.Jo, may have a very busy social network life – so likewise, her Facebook timeline is a very busy one too. You forget to post on your Facebook page for a week, or your last five posts don’t get very many likes or comments – i.e. limited engagement. EdgeRank kicks in and deliberately bumps the priority of your posts down Jo’s timeline.Although Jo has liked your page in the first instance – unless she is actively engaged with your content then you will gradually fall by the wayside.
You may be feeling very sceptical about this one – and always thought the little adverts that pop up on the right hand side of a Facebook page only clutter up your wall. Well, I have to say they really do work. We use them on most of our Facebook campaigns in order to create an initial following – and here’s why they are more effective than Google’s Pay Per Click (PPC). They can help you reach the right kind of people with a fine degree of accuracy. Facebook adverts can be targeted by location (country and city), age, gender, and most importantly, by interest.Make sure the campaign slogan requires a call to action and select the right photo. As tempting as it is, avoid using your standard company logo, as it’s not as effective. Use colourful images, or photos of people. It does come at a cost, but you can spend as much, or as little (as little as £3 a day) as you like.
- Post something people want to read
Increasing page ‘likes’ is the first step, but if your new fans have nothing interesting to look at, then they won’t stick around long enough to read any posts, let alone click through to your website.Post thought-provoking and engaging content that encourages a response. It’s also advised you keep your posts under 140 characters, as it’s all a scanning eye will take in. Photos receive over 90 per cent more engagement than regular posts, so be sure to incorporate images into what you post too.Be careful not to spam your fans by posting ten times a day; four or five times a week is enough initially for you to stay on their radar and drive them to your page. Any more and it can get annoying.Each one of the social media networks are different and will attract different sets of people. So be careful to treat each on separately when you post. Try and refrain from linking your Twitter and Facebook accounts for instance, and simply posting the same messages across all platforms.
- Post when your target audience is online
This concept is really simple – why waste posting on Facebook when no-one is around! Think about the timings of your posts and pick times when you know people are online. Look at your Google Analytics and identify peak traffic times during the week – try sending posts out at different times of the day and see what reaction you get.If you are wondering how you are going to cope with sending posts during the weekend or throughout the evening, think about scheduling some posts using Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or even Facebook proper offers that option now. You could even be posting when you are on your day off!
- Get your smartphone out and upload some pictures
Pictures and Facebook go hand in hand –why? Because people love photos. The attention span of most Facebook users is very small with the average user scrolling down their Facebook page at a furious rate, looking for something to jump out and grab them. Pictures are great because people know they can quickly take a peek (hopefully, hit like or comment) and then continue scrolling.Your regular visitors will be curious about what is happening on the Park so make sure you post a few pictures from the Park throughout the week.I cannot lay claim this quote – but I once read …”Facebook is like a fridge. When you’re bored you keep opening and closing it every few minutes to see if there’s anything good in it.”
You may have heard the odd noise about Pinterest throughout your travels but here’s a very brief précis to set the scene:-
Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. Users can browse other pinboards for images, ‘re-pin’ images to their own pinboards, or ‘like’ photos.
Why use Pinterest?
We mentioned earlier that people loved photos on Facebook. Well, here is a whole social media tool dedicated to images. It is a very simple concept – a bit like Twitter and has been used very successfully by some businesses.
Here’s a few tips for using Pinterest for your Park:-
- Know Your Audience
You don’t need a detailed demographic breakdown of your customers – but it does help to have a clear idea who you are targeting. You can then tailor your content to suit.
- Create Boards That Represent Your Park
How does what you are sharing relate to your brand and your image? Categorise your Pinterest boards into what messages you want to portray. Think about the decision making process of your visitors when they buy a holiday and what they may be interested in. Perhaps create separate pin boards for your Park, “must see views”, local beaches, things to do etc.
- Add a “Pin” Button to Your Site
Just like the other social media tools it is important to encourage people to share your content. Your Park website is the starting point – make sure you have a “Pin” button alongside all the other social media share buttons and encourage people to share. Here’s how you do it: http://about.pinterest.com/goodies/
- Pin Striking Images
People love great images – so here’s your chance to show off what you have got!! If you catch the perfect sunset or could boast about the best view in the UK, Pinterest is the place to do it.
- Use Relevant Keywords
Social Media can have an effect on SEO – didn’t know that? Well, I will let you in to a little secret, the major search engines are all turning to social signals as part of their search algorithms. In order to take advantage of this, you will want your content to be searchable so remember to include a description with relevant keywords for everything that you share (oh, and the odd link back to your website too ;0) ).
- Get Involved & Have Fun
Don’t just self promote, people really don’t like this. Get involved and communicate, build and strengthen your brand by creating relationships with people. Show an interest in the content of others by liking and commenting on it; if yours is good enough I’m sure you’ll get more followers in no time.
Creating video content is a great way for Park owners to boost the profile of their business, the main advantages being that it is free and easy to maintain once you have set yourself up (apart from the cost / time involved in creating the video clip).
Two of the most common free video-hosting services are YouTube and Vimeo.
YouTube is the “daddy of the online video hosts” and is used by most major companies and advertisers to promote and sell their product, or to disseminate information locally and globally in an instant. With over 3 billion views per day it is the second biggest searched tool on the web, and as with other social media tools, people can subscribe to your channel and share your content.
Vimeo has a similar set-up to YouTube but is generally the home for posting high-quality videos e.g. they were the first video host to offer the option of loading up videos in full HD format.
If your goal is to create easily shareable and locatable content, YouTube is probably your best bet. There’s also another pretty big reason to concentrate your efforts on YouTube – Google owns it, so popular videos tend to rank highly in Google searches.
Here’s a few tips to get the most out of YouTube
- Name and customise your channel to suit your Park.
Make the title of your channel match the rest of your social media IDs to give brand consistency. You can also brand your channel with your Park colours and logo.
- Keep your videos brief.
Keep your videos short and concise to start off with (a couple of minutes is easily enough). As you start to build your subscribers you can make them a little longer and more in-depth. Once people get to know you they’re more likely to watch longer videos.
- Add a call to action.
Add a call to action at the end of your video. Ask viewers to comment or click your Subscribe button, anything that will engage them.
- Describe your video.
A little used practice – but can make all the difference to your videos being found. YouTube allows you to add a description – so don’t forget to describe exactly what it’s about and make sure you use lots of relevant keywords to make it show up higher in search results.
- Embed your videos.
Adding a YouTube video to your website or to Facebook couldn’t be easier – simply click the share button under the video, choose your player size and grab the code.
- Work at it.
Just like your website or other social media accounts, YouTube needs a little TLC. If you can, post a new video regularly – even if it is only once a most, then make sure it is once every month. Find other complimentary channels that share a similar target audience to you. Promote your videos to each other’s subscribers by featuring them on your channel.
What should you make videos about?
Whatever your business, there’s bound to be plenty you can make a short film about. Remember, it doesn’t have to be high-quality and there are plenty of cost-effective cameras (including smartphones) and editing software that you can use to make short films. What matters is that your videos are clear, interesting, informative or entertaining.
Get your staff involved – or why not run a competition amongst your guests to come up with the best short video that describes their stay with you.
In June 2011, Google launched a platform that changed the social media landscape as we knew it. For the first time, a real challenger to Facebook had emerged – Google+.
You may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Well, if Google is sending you the majority of your traffic, it makes sense to figure out how to help them send you more? Google+ is the answer.
Google+ is a social network and recommendation engine that borrows some of its core elements from both Facebook and Twitter. Like Facebook, users are able post rich content and detailed status updates to their profile and have this content show up in other user’s newsfeeds. Unlike Facebook however, Google+ users are able to follow anybody that they want to without requiring their target to accept a ‘friend request’.
The really unique feature of Google+ is ‘Circles.’
Circles allow users to create custom groups of people that they would either like to receive updates from or send updates to. Even though Facebook and Twitter have both introduced ‘lists’ which are somewhat similar, circles are by far the most robust and customisable social media audience segmentation tool available out of all the social media platforms.
From a business point of view, the ways you can use circles are only limited by your own creativity! Send exclusive Park news updates and insights to just your customers, share internal news and photos with just your staff or even share news to all of your circles AND to their extended circles.
Creating a Google+ Business Page
Creating a Google+ Business Page is very simple and quick. Just login to your Google account and go to https://plus.google.com/pages/create to setup your Business Page profile.
On the left side of the page, pick a category for your business.
The most common setup is for Local Business or Place so you may want to start by going through the options following these steps:
- Indicate your country and primary phone number and then locate your area according to the results of your input.
- Add your basic info specifically street address, phone numbers, and category
- Select your visibility to “Any Google+ user”
- Finally, confirm your info and click Create button.
Making the most of Google+
- Profile, profile, profile – Just like Facebook, you need to have a strong Google+ profile. If it’s weak or missing something, you will get less people interested in seeing who you are. Have a picture that you know identifies you with your audience – something like your Park logo or a recognisable landscape photo. Your introduction needs to be long enough to include all the relevant information about your Park, but not be so long that readers will lose interest and move on.
- Use SEO to your advantage. On the right side of your profile you can add links and text. Use your terms, add some unique and RELEVANT information, and it will encourage more users to visit your website. Remember, this is Google, so those links should have a higher “searchability” than most, meaning that Google Plus is more open to searching than Facebook is.
- Communicate – the most important Google Plus marketing tips is to communicate. Use the “+”, comments and share options that you see around the web to your advantage. Build relationships by communicating with others. Don’t just put content or posts out there to have others read. Make sure to comment on theirs too. Keep up with the news of your industry. Share thoughts or ideas with others. Include photos, videos, anything that is interesting to your audience. Don’t let Google Plus be a one-sided conversation. Talk to others and they will talk back.
Social Media Case Study: West Dorset Leisure Holidays
Here’s how one Holiday Park has been tackling the world of social media.
West Dorset Leisure Holidays is a family run business, comprising of five holiday parks, Highlands End, Golden Cap, Graston Copse, Larkfield and Sandyholme.
We tried dipping our toes in the water a couple of years ago – starting with Twitter and then moving on to Facebook. We started off posting two or three times a week – but not getting much response. We realised early on that if we were going to take this seriously we would have to resource it properly.
We asked Hana, one of our reception staff to take the lead – she was already well versed with using Facebook on a personal level, and being front of house was closest to our Park customers anyway. On a daily basis she would be chatting with customers when they dropped in to the Reception so was usually the first to know about any news on the Park. Being a great conversationalists is also a bonus ;0)
We now have over 3,300 followers on Twitter and tweeted over 5,000 tweets – that is no mean feat and testament to Hana’s passion to keep the conversations going. On Facebook, we have over 1,200 followers which has been growing organically as we haven’t done any advertising yet – apart from linking our websites to it and referencing it on our outgoing emails.
We try and keep things very informal, lots of photos and information about what is going on around the Park during the day. But there is always the odd post or photo that takes me by surprise with the number of likes or comments they get – it really is a case of trying things out and finding what works best.
Wherever possible we try and link our messaging in to something about the Park, what is happening locally or something that is topical in the Press or on TV.
Locally, we participate on Twitter in something called #dorsethour. It happens every Monday from 7.30pm for an hour and it is a chance for local Dorset businesses to promote themselves and share followers. We use the hashtag #dorsethour during the hour period – and we can definitely say we have picked up bookings through it. It has proved very popular with our followers and we have had some bookings through this, they came at the end of May and tweeted their pictures/experiences with their followers mentioning us, putting us out there to even more people.
Twitter – an example of one of our recent tweets
During 2012 we were fortunate to have the TV Show Broadchurch being filmed on one of our local beaches. You can imagine that David Tennant is a pretty big draw anyway – but posting pictures of the film crew started to generate quite a bit of interest. Perhaps we had turned into a bit of a Broadchurch groupie – but the passion has paid off. When the series was launched we increased the conversations, reminding people when to switch on and then discussing who might have “done it” afterwards. The Press picked up on our hard work and our tweets even got a mention on Yahoo news.
Facebook post for Broadchurch
Graston Copse Holiday Park had their first Broadie (Broadchurch Fan) to stay. They loved the programme so much they Googled it and found us. We were happy to show them where the scenes were shot at Eype and West Bay. We can’t wait for series 2!!
Facebook is always popular and we have now learnt to put pictures with our posts which is getting us out there even more. One of us has always got a mobile in our pocket so it is easy to take a quick photo and upload it via the Facebook Business Page mobile App – which works really well. Again, having a mobile in our pocket enables us to respond quickly when we get asked questions – liking other peoples comments and posts helps the conversation too.
We have been giving Pinterest and Google+ a try over the last couple of months – but it is still early days. We keep an eye on our Google Analytics which now shows Social Media interactions and we are definitely seeing traffic coming from Facebook, Twitter and Google+ which shows all of the hard work of Hana and the team is paying off.
Martin Cox – Managing Director, WDLH
This article appeared in the July-August edition of the BH&HPA Holiday Parks Journal