Ms. Hilger

Social Media & Relationship Marketing

Curation: The Key to Increasing Engagement

By Stephanie Hilger, Director of Social Media, Blue Magnet Interactive

Curating Engagement-Worthy Content

Creating content is hard, especially with limited budgets, time, and resources. Not to mention, the content that your hotel is publishing is not only competing with content from other hotels but also with content from other brands, other industries - even users' family and friends. In the digital world, community managers are constantly trying to think of creative ways to attract and engage followers.

As a social media manager, it is not always necessary to create content from scratch. Engaging content can be discovered and re-shared with your network. Often times, content curation can even be the key to increasing engagement. A hotel using its social media to curate local content (concerts in town, festivals, events, and general local area information) becomes valuable to both guests and the local community.

What is Content Curation

Marketing expert Rohit Bhargava defines a content curator as "someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online." In short, content curation is the process of sifting through (keyword: relevant) content to repurpose and share. Brands, people, and organizations you follow on different social media channels curate content each and every day. Whether it be on Facebook or Twitter or even in an eNewsletter, content curation is an integral part of any social strategy.

Why Content Curation?

Content curation creates countless opportunities when done effectively and correctly. As a social media manager for a hotel, if you are curating valuable content that past, current, and potential guests will find useful, you are giving them a reason to engage and come back for more - before you even begin to dish out your original content!

Grow Your Audience

Content curation is crucial to growing your online audience and staying relevant. Most hotels do not have enough unique content to publish day after day, week after week, and month after month. If you are lucky enough to have plenty of original content to publish without having to gather information from other sources, that is awesome! However, a solid social media strategy should include more than your hotel's images, views, and opinions. Stretching a limited budget can be hard enough, and while curating content can be time-consuming, you will be saving some time and resources by not having to start from scratch each and every week.

Earn Trust

People trust other people, not brands. By connecting guests to other users' content, you will earn their trust. Help people find the things they are interested in - whether it be a local area attraction, event, or recap of a city-wide convention on an attendee's blog. By doing so, you are showing those interested in your hotel or local area that you are the go-to for all things in your market. If you are not ready to listen, engage, and share other content on social media - why even both? After all, it is called social media for a reason!

"The greatest benefit of content curation that I see is to help distill a signal from noise and become a trusted and authoritative resource in your field. If you're the source of what's truly important and useful, you can stand out even in crowded markets and earn a significant audience." - Rand Fishkin, Founder Moz (1)

Reap the Benefits

There are many benefits of taking time to curate content. While it may seem like another task to add on to your never-ending to-do list, searching for relevant content to share can inspire your own ideas, help you formulate to topics to post about, and enhance your content marketing strategy.

We have discussed how content creation can help build trust and that the credibility you build will keep your followers and potential guests coming back for more. Social media is not about the amount of traffic your accounts are receiving, nor should you hone in on the number of likes, reactions, re-tweets, and so on your content receives. According to Cisco, the most valuable metric to track is "engagement per post" The key to increasing this metric? Finding that sweet spot - that perfect mix of both original and curated content.

The How

Like with any digital marketing strategy you embark upon, before beginning to look for content to share with your audience, make sure that you clearly define your goals and objectives. What do you want to get out of the content you are curating? Are you looking for more engagement? Are you hoping that in turn, the publishers of the content you share will share your original content? What type of content or topics will you begin to search for? We know that, as a hotel, the content you curate must be relevant to your guests, your market, and your industry, but how can you define that even further? Considering what questions your guests have about travel, the local area, and your hotel in general is a good place to start. Another go-to-source for inspiration is the Google Keyword Planner. Many digital marketers and SEO enthusiasts use this tool to determine landing page topics; while this is a great resource to garner ideas for fresh content, the same tactic can be applied when trying to determine what already existing content you want to find and share.

Let the content you curate help define the bigger picture. Your hotel is one piece of the pie. Why do travelers want to visit your city? Why should [insert your location here] be their next travel destination? Content curation gives potential guests the full picture and a reason to visit/ book.

The Where

Once you begin your discovery phase, make sure that you are only looking at and sharing from credible sources. Hotels have the opportunity to curate content from local area attractions, CVBs, guests, travel bloggers, other like-minded individuals in the travel industry - the list is endless!

Check out the social media accounts of the attractions, annual events, CVBs, and other reputable sources in your market. Sign up for their eNewsletters, set-up Google alerts, and create your "go-to" list of sources that you can pull content from again and again. Follow these sources on social media, create Twitter lists to easily parse through their feeds, and create a bookmark folder with your favorite blogs or sign up for their RSS feeds.

Tips and Tools to Help Hoteliers Curate

Ross Hudgens (2) recommends adding your own commentary as well as "a little sparkle with design or development." Adding hotel commentary to any content you are sharing is extremely important. Show your audience/ potential guests that you are knowledgeable on the subject matter as well. Sharing content on social should require more effort than copying and pasting a link. Put your own introduction to/ spin on someone else's content with your unique, branded voice. When it comes to imagery, Hudgens notes, "The most sure-fire way to add value is by adding or improving design elements when you curate content."

Of course, giving credit where credit is due is imperative as well. By not only giving credit, but make a good impression on the original author or source, you are opening the door to your unique content being shared in return. If you can, make sure to physically tag the original source in your posts or tweets as well. See if their website links to a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account and tag the official author or organization's Page or handle.

Curata is an excellent tool that can help you discover and organize content. A few of their recommended best practices include being selective about your content, annotating your curated posts and adding your perspective, and prominently linking back to the original article. (3) Additional, helpful tools to help hoteliers find and share content include BuzzSumo, Feedly, and Pocket.

When to Share Curated Content

There is no perfect formula; however, you maybe have heard a social media professional ramble off the "80/20 Rule." Twenty percent of your content should be self-promotional (i.e. showcasing special offers or highlighting hotel amenities); the remaining eighty percent of your content should be interesting, entertaining, and useful. Lucky for you, content curation could easily fit into either of these categories.

Curate content from real people - people who are on-property or have recently stayed at your hotel - and throw some user-generated content into your self- promotional mix. (Remember: People trust other people, not brands). Reshare a recent guests' Instagram photo where they discuss how amazing the hotel decor is, how delicious their complimentary breakfast was, or how they cannot get over how good of a view they had from their guest room. Use direct quotes, when necessary, and always give photo credit to the Instagram user. On social media, consumers are more likely to notice something that looks real and authentic versus a polished post (i.e. a shot of room taken by a professional photographer, a completely staged meal in your restaurant, or a stock-photo like family posing in your pool).

Of course, curating content fits into the eighty percent as well. Give people the knowledge and material they need no matter what stage of travel they are in. People planning a vacation to your location, people on property, and people looking to keep in touch are all on the hunt for some type of information on your market. Become a thought leader and share the content your consumers are searching for. You will find that this is an excellent way to connect with the local community and residents as well.

Good Content Versus Great Content

When looking for relevant content to share, ask yourself if you find the article or post amusing and entertaining. If you weren't intrigued by the article, it is likely your guests won't be either. While there is a difference between how we post personally and how we post professionally, there is some insight to be found when posting on behalf of your property by asking yourself, "Is this something I would engage with or be inclined to share?" or "Is this helpful?"<

At the end of the day, it does not matter if the content you are sharing is original or curated if nobody is interacting with it. Your hotel's content should be relevant, relatable, & timely. G. Andrew Meyer, Creative Lead at Facebook/ Instagram recommends asking yourself these four questions: 1) Does it have humor?, 2) Does it have heart?, 3) Does it have brains?, and 4) Is it brave?

Ready, Set Curate

The pressing questions have been answered. The what, why, how, where, and when has been covered. You know what content curation is, why it is important, how and when to integrate this into your overall strategy, and where to go to find share-worthy content and for assistance. So, what are you waiting for? Gain your competitive edge. Become a thought-leader in your industry and community. Grow your following. And curate, curate, curate!

References:

1) http://www.slideshare.net/CurataTeam/curation-experts-slide-share-v2
2) http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/04/content-curation-strategies/
3) http://www.curata.com/blog/content-curation-seo-dos-and-donts/

Stephanie Hilger is the Director of Social Media at Blue Magnet Interactive. Overseeing the direction of the company’s social media department, Ms. Hilger is responsible for overall social media performance. She is accountable for establishing best practices in social media, upholding company marketing standards, and ensuring top quality social media services. Ms. Hilger has helped define Blue Magnet’s social media marketing service options, pricing, and marketing strategy. She has presented at several industry conferences about the important role of social media marketing in holistic digital marketing. Ms. Hilger also heads the marketing strategy for the company’s social media efforts, positioning Blue Magnet as the most trusted name in hospitality marketing. Ms. Hilger can be contacted at 877-361-1177 x216 or stephanie.hilger@bluemagnetinteractive.com Please visit http://www.bluemagnetinteractive.com for more information. Extended Bio...

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