Social networking : what can Facebook do for your self-catering business?

Our new blog series looks at why social networking has become an essential tool for your business…

You’ve probably heard about and used one or more of the social media platforms available.  There are hundreds of these – although the sheer amount can be daunting, the great news is that most are free and a good strategy on just a couple could be all you need.  In addition, there are lots of online marketing options which can give you good return for a small outlay.  With so many to choose from though, which ones are worth investing your time or money in?  Can they really help your business? Over the next few blogs, we’re going to look at a few of the leading platforms and how you can use them to get results…

What is it?

In numbers alone, Facebook is the most popular social networking site today, with over 750 million registered users.  On a personal level, you can share updates, photos, videos, articles and lots more with people who you accept as your “Friends”.  More importantly for business, however, there are “Fan” pages, which you set up for your business (or possibly better for each property).  Users can then go on and “like” your page to receive the information you share – photos, status updates, video.  If they enjoy something you put up, they can “share” it with their friends.  So essentially if you create engaging content, they will do good marketing for you.  This is very valuable marketing, because they are endorsing your business personally.

How could it work for your business?

Let’s see one small example of how a Facebook presence could work for you…

You have a holiday cottage and set up a page with some nice pictures of your property, local places of interest etc.  When customers book accommodation, you encourage them to “like” your page with a link in your booking confirmation email.

Mrs A books your holiday cottage at the seaside for her family get-together.  She then goes ahead and “likes” your page. She has a look at the photos, one of which shows the outlook from your cottage over a stunning beach.  She is pleased that she has chosen this place and decides to share the picture with her friends, adding a comment “counting down the days ’til family break here – rest and relaxation ahead” (people love to use Facebook to brag…) She “tags” those who are going on the trip – her husband, 2 children, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew.

How many people will now potentially see your gorgeous seaside property? A lot!

Mrs A has 150 friends on Facebook, they each see the photo in their newsfeed. Because she also “tagged” them, friends of her husband (150 friends), children (200 friends each), her sister (150 friends), brother-in-law (150 friends), nephew and niece (200 friends each) will see the photo too. So, from her one “share” of your photo, around 1400 people will see the picture – and it didn’t cost you a penny.  That’s not all. If one of Mrs A’s friends, Miss C comments on the photo (“sooo jealous, we’re not going away ’til the end of the year!”), then her 350 friends will see it too and so on….

Takeaway Points:

It’s free.

750 million+ users – your customers are probably on there.

Informal communication with customers – generate feedback and boost sales.

Always a two way conversation – don’t just use it as a place to shunt out endless sales messages.

If you provide a good product and service, people will evangelise about you to their friends – perhaps the most valuable marketing there is, as word-of-mouth recommendation is always trusted.

Simple ideas to boost your offering – post links to local events or attractions; showcase great pictures of the local area; tell them about that great new eating place that has opened nearby and link to a review from the local paper.