Over the past ten years, social media has gone from “probably a passing fad” to a strategic imperative. Brands are dedicating significant resources to cultivating a rich online presence and every year, marketers invest more and more in their overall social strategy. The hotel industry has been particularly active in the social media space, using this digital channel to not only engage with existing customers but also capture the attention of prospective guests.
Yet despite its growing popularity in marketing strategies, social media – or rather the value of social media – remains elusive. Unlike traditional media that, for the most part, delivers quantifiable ROI, social media’s effectiveness is correlative at best. What metric is most effective? Should brands count “likes,” “tweets,” or “posts?” Do these actions translate into sales? How do marketers know that their investment is actually growing their bottom line? Even independent surveys and studies on the subject seem to contradict each other. In a 2013 study, Forrester Consulting found that people who engaged daily with a brand on social media were likely to make twice as many purchases with that brand as someone who only engages monthly. Yet according to a Gallup survey, 62% of U.S. adults who use social media say these sites have no influence on purchasing decisions.