Hotel Propeller Blog

Think Locally: Strengthening Your Small Inn’s Home Base With Social Media

Small Inn Social Media

Social media audiences love photos. By sharing photos on sites like Pinterest and Instagram you can build your social following.

Over 90% of consumers search for local businesses online. As a busy inn manager, your goal is to connect with those people as quickly and easily as possible. Try these free, low-maintenance social media techniques ways to boost your local presence…

1. Put your inn on the map

Sign up for an account with Google Places. This free service adds your business details to Google Search and Google Maps. Your pin on the map will show a photo, contact details, ratings and reviews. This is the most common way people look for businesses in their area.

Having a detailed profile on Google Places isn’t just a way to discover your inn. It also improves the experience of finding your inn for people with existing reservations.  When your guests are travelling in an unfamiliar place, they’ll navigate to your inn using Google Maps on their phone or GPS. The easier it is to find you on Google Maps, the more satisfied you guests will be with their whole experience.

2. Create profiles on Instagram and Pinterest

Instagram has quickly become a leading social media platform for connecting local places. (tweet this) This mobile app lets people share spur-of-the-moment photos. It’s a perfect way to get people acquainted with the look and feel of your inn. Your guests have the option to take photos during their stay, and you can also add ‘behind the scenes’ photos that add to your brand’s local presence. Create your Instagram profile so that people can tag and follow you.

Pinterest for Business is another must-have profile for local businesses. As a small inn, your visual image is one of your best qualities. Like Instagram, Pinterest is great match for places that rely on  visual, place-specific features to attract new business. The majority of people who engage with Pinterest are women, so this is a great way to connect with the female demographic.  Check out this useful guide to using Pinterest as a local social media tool.

3. Unlock your Yelp account

As an active small inn, you may have already been added and reviewed on Yelp by former guests. Over 86 million people used Yelp to find local businesses in the last quarter of 2012. This is a huge audience of people who rely on Yelp for recommendations and reviews.

Search for your inn’s name on Yelp, and below the business description click on the link that reads “Is this your business”? You’ll be prompted to unlock your business tools by adding your information. When you have access to your business on Yelp, you can engage with the local community by responding to reviews and adding your own photos and updates. Make sure your Yelp account is as detailed as possible.

4. Connect with other businesses in your area

Social Media

Social audiences love stories. Share stories of how your guests enjoy all that you have to offer.

This will take a little research. Search for local restaurants, spas and tourist attractions and add them to your social networks. Use Google Places to map out nearby businesses. Search for local keywords on all of your social networks. A simple friend request or ‘follow’ lets other local business owners know that you’re an active part of the community.

Interact with other businesses by commenting or sharing relevant posts with your followers. Did the restaurant across the street just tweet about a dinner special? Retweet them, and they may return the favor.

5. Use place names and geotags

Last week I wrote about creating a Facebook page for small inns and B&B’s. As you’re adding content, frequently mention local places to help you show up in local searches. Facebook lets you tag places and other local businesses when you add the @ sign. Use this feature to connect with your immediate community.

Hashtags are also very useful for grouping your content locally. (tweet this) If you’re out shopping for the inn, use Instagram to take an enticing photo with a caption like ‘What’s for dinner? #townsvillemarket.’ The added hashtag connects you to a specific place that’s central to the local community. Instagram can be synchronized with Twitter, so the hashtags will be active on both networks.

Also try following the Twitter hashtags related to your area. You can do this using a social media manager like Hootsuite. You’ll be notified whenever someone mentions your town or business. This also helps other members of the community find you.

To build a strong presence through social media, remember your inn’s role as a local place. Take some time to follow these initial steps and the networks will do most of the work for you!

Have you had success with social media? Share your advice in the comments.

Photos by Marcus Berg

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