Got a hospitality brand? (Or any brand that needs some good oil?) “Social influencers” are very important to you.

people-using-smartphones-and-mobile-phones-in-a-pub-near-the-bar-counter_4fv0quckoe__S0000Social media influencers can boost audience reach for Australian hospitality brands by up to ten times, new research has revealed.

Data from Hootsuite, a prominent social media monitoring company, have revealed the power of influencers in Australia, where Instagram in particular is emerging as a powerful marketing platform for many brands.

The hospitality industry is already capitalising on opportunities from the photo-sharing app, with an Australian bar, hotel or restaurant being tagged on Instagram every 28 seconds, industry website B&T reported. The highest performing influencers drive up to 87% of post traffic.

The report also revealed the positive brand impact of social media activity by hospitality brands – hotels, bars and restaurants with an active online presence enjoyed an increased positive brand perception of up to 20%. In many cases, hospitality staff were active in spreading the word about their place of employment.

Nearly half of Aussie hospitality brands are missing out

Yet despite the clear benefits, less than half of hospitality brands of tourism in Australia use social media to engage with consumers. Almost half (45%) of those brands with accounts aren’t actively engaging with their followers.

“Social media has transformed the way Australians discover, consume and share experiences at hotels, bars, and restaurants,” said Ben Mulligan, Regional Marketing Leader, Australia & New Zealand, Hootsuite.

“With more access to real-time information than ever before, the customer journey has evolved, and organisations need to think ‘digital first’ to meet and capitalise upon the expectations of the connected consumer,” he advised.

The report also suggested that brands should work with “micro-influencers” (influencers with small, more localised followers) who offer a more targeted potential audience.

US word-of-mouth specialist Keller Fay has noted the “hand raising” role of influencers, who are disproportionately more likely to call customer service-numbers, visit brand websites, or volunteer for marketing programs.

Marketers should make a priority of effectively responding to incoming inquiries and build databases of these types of consumers.

MOP logoAll well and good. But MOP applauds the advice offered by WARC, amongst others, that offline channels should not be neglected as two-thirds of the sales impact of conversation comes from offline discussions about brands, rather than through social media.

Or to put it in simple non-jargony terms: the role of “watercooler” conversation or chats around the dinner table in influencing consumer opinions is a long, long way from dead. After all, who do you believe most? Your immediate friends and family, face-to-face, or a social media site?

And those all-important conversations are driven by the totality of a brand’s marketing, and the day-to-day experience of a brand by consumers interacting with it, in the real world.

Expecting social media to do everything for you is simply not on.

Social media is important, undoubtedly. It’s not the be-all-and-end-all of everything.

Author: Stephen Yolland

Director of Creative Strategy and Partner @ Magnum Opus Partners.

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