Marketing can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Some hostel owners may also feel like you have to spend a lot of money or lose a lot via OTA commissions since they can play a huge role in marketing a hostel. However neither of those have to be true to have effective marketing.
There are numerous tips & tricks for marketing your hostel, but one of the easiest yet frequently ignored is social media. Whether you’ve been meaning to create an Instagram for months or you have accounts on every platform, if you aren’t regularly putting up solid content, you are dropping the ball on an excellent source of potential bookings.
Not fully utilizing social media is a huge mistake a hostel can make for a couple simple reasons. For one, it’s critical in today’s marketing strategy and for two, it can cost you almost nothing if done smartly. Since a great hostel is truly selling an experience and not just a product (or bed), it’s important to actively show this.
A post on the Facebook page of Podstel Hostel showing what they are really about with their ‘No small talk = BIG talk” discussion night.
Websites are great for the polished photos and the promise of what may be if a guest chooses to stay, but using social media platforms is what gives your hostel ‘social proof’. It says “Yes, this IS what it’s really like to stay here- what our guests experience from what we create.” Many potential guests will look to a hostel’s Facebook or Instagram to check out what the vibe is really like before choosing to book. If you have very few photos or videos, or they are really poor quality, or they are just of your facilities but not of your guests actively experiencing your hostel, you are really missing out on an easy way to hook them.
So how do you use social media to your advantage? First of all, don’t assume you need to pay a digital marketer off the bat. While this can be a good investment for some hostels, for most it’s absolutely not necessary for getting started. While having a large number of followers is helpful, simply putting out regular, good quality content will do leaps & bounds for your social media if you have let it lag. Bonus points if you can get your followers to like, comment, and share (i.e. engage) with your content.
This hostel, Ottos Backpackers, in Nelson, New Zealand added a question with their Instagram photo, encouraging engagement from anyone who saw it.
The pics don’t need to be professional but they should at least be aesthetically pleasing. While it’s easy to find numerous social media accounts that are perfectly curated, especially on Instagram, at the end of the day we all want to believe it’s somewhat real. So use this as a chance to show your authentic hostel to potential guests rather than avoid doing it or putting it on the back burner because you are worried it won’t be good enough.
Other tips are to make use of popular hashtags for your area or what your guests would be searching, along with trending topics, and to tag your guests in your photos. Tagging may require your staff to become Facebook friends with guests in order to tag them. However, if you can tag a guest in a hostel activity photo, not only will it then show on their profile to all of this guest’s friends (including travelers of course!), but they are more likely to share it showing what a great time they are having on their trip.
Pacific Tradewinds Hostel in San Francisco not only used an Instagram photo to show a fun hostel experience but also tagged their guest who helped create the dinner.
A great way to use social media without it costing much money is to enlist the help of your staff. For instance, uploading pictures can be a great graveyard or midday shift when most of the hostel is sleeping or out exploring. You can also add various admin roles on your hostel’s Facebook, as well as add your hostel’s Instagram account to your staff members’ phones.
Obviously only do this for those you trust, but since IG lets you toggle between accounts, it can be a great way to get content uploaded regularly. Whether they are out with guests or just working the front desk, it gives them the chance to both upload to the account as well as add to the hostel’s IG Story for the day. If you use other platforms like Snapchat or Twitter, they can be regularly adding fun content there as well. Keep in mind that whatever platform you are on, posts almost always do better when an image is attached.
HI Hostels with a Twitter post that has text, a link, and photos.
There are also apps like Tweetdeck that let you schedule out Twitter posts in advance, and Facebook will let you do this for a business page straight from the website. This is incredibly helpful for having content posted frequently without having to always be on the platforms. For instance, a staff member could upload all of the week’s events in one night but have them scheduled to post one a day for the rest of the week. Another popular app to help run your social media accounts is Hootsuite.
Finally, it can also really help to find out which of your staff love using social media (hint: they are probably way better at it than you). You can then have them focus routinely on your accounts versus other duties than another staff member can do. Before you think that may be unfair, keep in mind that some people would jump at the chance to take pictures or video, write fun captions, search out the best hashtags, etc. while others would find that time consuming and pressure-filled. It’s always smart to play to a person’s strengths and crafting social media is no different. Find someone who actually enjoys it and your quality will be far greater.
Do you regularly update your social media? What is your biggest challenge in keeping regularly content on your accounts? Sign in and comment below.
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