Hotwire needs help with their social media efforts. As an occasional Hotwire user who loves getting great last-minute deals on hotels and cars, I recently ran across their Facebook page. Boy, was I surprised at the apparent lack of Hotwire’s attention!
Hotwire has been around since the Internet heyday, launching in 2000. Now that they are part of a large conglomerate, InterActiveCorp, have they neglected to nurture their audience on newer platforms?
Yes, they have a social media “presence.” A quick glance at Twitter reveals they are actively tweeting by responding to requests and often wishing individuals to “have a great trip!” That’s a good sign that they do indeed care about engagement with their customers.
So Hotwire, what can you do better on your Facebook page?
Let’s take a look and apply four practical social media best practices.
1. Branding: Use a sharp logo and an inspiring cover image.
A first impression is a lasting impression. Hotwire’s logo is not crystal clear, and the cover image is fuzzy too! It looks like a screenshot of a low-resolution YouTube commercial. When a Facebook user discovers this page, likely they will not be saying, “Oooh, I feel like booking some travel today!”
Perhaps you can take a lesson from your sister company, Expedia — their Facebook page has a recognizable icon that works well as a large logo at the top and also the small logo by each post. And by the way, who doesn’t love a breathtaking shot of a sunset over mountains and water to inspire them to get away?
2. Content: Optimize fan engagement by posting the right content with the right frequency.
One thing I noticed is that in 2011, you must not have had a dedicated social media manager. Hotwire only posted one to three times a month! This year, it looks like you’re giving the page a tiny bit more love — posting an average of once or twice a week.
Rather than having Facebook be an after-thought, plan out a content calendar and consider posting more frequently, up to one to two times per day to keep Hotwire top of mind. Facebook’s first earnings report says they are almost at one billion monthly active users. Even more so, 552 million were daily active users. According to “An In-Depth Look at The Science of Facebook Timing,” here’s another stat that might help convince you:
As far as types of content goes, there is some hope — you’re starting to get the hang of it! Not only are you posting Hotwire promotions such as last-minute deals, you’re also encouraging fans to participate with Questions (polls) and “Like this if…” status updates.
Now, here are more content ideas to keep your fans engaged:
- Post photos of different cities you’re promoting. Because photos on Facebook are large and eye-catching, it’s easy for fans to respond to them. When they like and share your posts, you get extended reach to friends who can see their activity.
- Celebrate the seasons. Build non-Hotwire, travel-related content — for instance, you can easily create a blog, where writers can write feature articles about summer hotspots and cool ski resorts in the winter.
- Highlight your deal-loving fans. Create user-generated content by asking fans to submit photos of themselves while traveling, and caption the photos with what they were able to do on their trip with the money they saved by using Hotwire. Turn it into a contest, select the best photo/caption and highlight that fan on your page.
- Use back-end customer data to target posts. Can you confirm that people from the Northeast U.S. book travel to Florida or the Caribbean during the winter? You can target a Facebook post by geography (right down to the city), or even target by language for international travel promotions.
3. Fans: Extend community engagement by leveraging other channels and social ads.
Now that you have a basic content plan, make it easy for customers to join your social media community. I’d imagine Hotwire has a very large customer email database — I still get personalized Deals of the Week. Why don’t I see social media icons integrated into the email template?
Email subscribers should only be one click away from following your Facebook and Twitter pages. I also didn’t see a Facebook Like Box, much less any kind of links to social media from Hotwire.com. In fact, in almost any type of ad (offline or online) that Hotwire does, it’s fair game to insert social media awareness there too.
There are other ways to get people who may not know about Hotwire to like your Facebook page.
- Facebook ads. Many brands build their fan base by creating ads that are shown on the margins of Facebook’s news feed. The best part about these ads is that they can be highly-targeted to your ideal audience. You can select the right demographics, as well as relevant user interests — including categories such as “travel” or even other similar brands’ Facebook pages. Get an intro to Facebook ads here.
- Promoted posts. A relatively-new feature on Facebook to get more visibility is to promote individual posts, so people can like, comment, answer a question or share them. Facebook guarantees a certain level of reach by the amount of dollars you spend. Read more about promoted post strategies by Facebook expert, Amy Porterfield.
4. Customer Service: Show that you’re listening and doing something about it.
Customers have opinions, and social media is a great place to air them — whether they’re positive or not. On your Facebook page, there are plenty of comments from customers who have not had good experiences with Hotwire. There are no responses from a Hotwire representative.
This feedback should be at least acknowledged publicly in the comments that you’re looking into their issues. You can invite them to send you a private message through Facebook to discuss further. If you can’t address concerns due to an internal process or product issue, create a feedback loop to the extended Hotwire team to investigate and actually address problems with the service.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to provide good news back to your fans! Similar to what you’re doing on Twitter, you can then wholeheartedly say, “Thanks for sticking with Hotwire. Have a fantastic trip.”.