The Social Media 2020 Playbook, staged by The Caterer and Supersonic Inc, offered up invaluable industry advice on how to conquer social media and offer an online experience that’s one step ahead of the competition
On 19 July, 100 of the hospitality industry’s most influential operators headed to Firmdale’s Soho hotel in London for the Social Media 2020 Playbook event.
The half-day training masterclass featured tips, tricks and practical advice on the latest social media trends for delegates to take back to their businesses and implement in their marketing strategies.
The Caterer was there to listen and share all the best advice from the day.
Meet the speakers
Mark McCulloch is founder of digital brand consultancy Supersonic Inc, and one of the leading social media speakers in the food, drink and hotel industry. He has more than 20 years’ brand, marketing and digital experience, working with brands including NME, Yo! Sushi, Costa Coffee and Pret A Manger.
Alison Battisby is the founder of social media strategy agency Avocado Social, and one of only a few accredited Facebook and Instagram trainers in the UK. She has helped top brands including Wagamama, John Lewis, Tesco, Soho House and Principal Hotel Group get their social strategy right.
Hot trends for 2020
“Don’t crave likes – crave saves,” is Supersonic Inc founder Mark McCulloch’s advice. He urges delegates to pay less attention to how many likes or comments a post gets and more attention to saves and shares, which he describes as “way more meaningful”.
For those operators who haven’t already started engaging with video, now is the time to start. Four times as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than read about it, and people gaze five times longer at video than at static content on Facebook and Instagram, says McCulloch. Test your video to ensure it looks good on mobile – which is how 86% of social media is consumed – and make sure those vital first three seconds make viewers want to keep watching.
And don’t forget to ‘design’ for Instagram – the meal you serve a customer is no longer simply being served to them, he points out, but to their whole social media network. Sit in every seat in your venue and check if there’s a shadow on the table when you try to photograph a dish. Consider how ‘grammable’ your dishes are – even consider investing in lighting equipment. Make it easy for influencers to share content about you.
Instagram stories hacks
Instagram stories offer a huge opportunity to connect with your followers in a more playful way, says Avocado Social founder Alison Battisby. Stories make full use of the mobile screen, offering businesses a canvas without any distractions.
A third of the most-viewed Instagram stories are from businesses and they are a great way to add value and inspire. You can use stories to show behind the scenes of a business, build excitement, promote time-limited offers, make announcements and stage product spotlights.
Battisby’s top hacks
• Share a story daily. You can achieve this by simply sharing your grid post to a story – why not do both?
• Limit sharing other people’s stories.
• Consider doing Instagram takeovers.
• Design a template and stick to one style – if you don’t have an in-house design team, there are many free apps that enable you to style your stories. Choose one that will best suit your business and stick to it.
• Layer your stories. Use the same content, but add more information frame by frame.
• Use interactive stickers and gifs, or create your own for your business, like Wagamama, Deliveroo and McDonald’s have.
• Use up to 10 hashtags in a story. Top tip: hide the hashtags by reducing the font size, select the colour using the colour picker tool, and hide them within a post.
How to beat the algorithms
With reports stating that just 6.4% of your followers will see your organic posts, in this session McCulloch shared tricks and tips to outthink the algorithms and stop them from throttling content.
It all comes down to relationships, influence and recency, says McCulloch. “Commenting can be more important than new posts and will build real relationships. Engage with interesting profiles and people will start checking you out. If someone asks ‘where’s good in this area?’ you can respond with ‘come and see us’ or ‘first beer’s on us’ and you’re likely to get the sale.”
Interacting with brands relevant to your user groups, being first to current trends, like FaceApp and the bottle cap challenge, and comments on topical stories will also improve recency.
Advertising is essential, as it helps your relationship with Facebook, says McCulloch. “Think about the long-term investment, about your overall advertising budget and the return you’re looking for. It will get you in tune with the money coming back. Don’t just boost a post for £3, which is like backing a long-shot horse.”
His final piece of advice is to look for ways to use LinkedIn better: “LinkedIn is a good place to be. Most people are boring, so if you do something fun, you’ll stand out,” he says.
Winning strategies for advertising
Although boosting a post will get you more views, says Battisby, it’s not great for driving traffic off Facebook and onto your site, because it won’t target people who are likely to click on your post. For that, she recommends Facebook Ads Manager.
How to develop effective social media advertising
• Spy on your competitors – see what ads they’re running on their Facebook ‘page transparency’ section.
• Set up Facebook Pixel correctly – this is a piece of code for your website that lets you measure, optimise and build audiences for your advertising campaigns.
• Retarget your customers – target the audience you know you have based on the data you have, and retarget people who have interacted with your pages before.
• Try new formats – get out of your comfort zone and experiment with images, colours, videos, movement and framing, says Battisby.
• A/B/C test – don’t put all your eggs in one basket with one image or video; remember you can create up to six ads at no extra charge on Facebook to work out what gets you the ‘cheapest’ clicks.
• Optimise your ads – once your campaign has run, work out what worked best, at what time of day, and hone in on who has actually clicked on your ads.
How to enlist your employees as internal influencers
McCulloch offered six steps to creating a whole company of brand ambassadors:
Step one Identify whether a personal or semi-personal account is best to push messages you want to show the outside world in a human and honest way.
Step two Pick people who are “proud to wear the jersey” and can shout about the things happening in their role, then pick the right channel for them. Check out Ashford Castle executive pastry chef Paula Stakelum’s Instagram feed @paula_pastry – “she’s so proud and puts in so much effort”.
Step three Make sure your pages are set up and optimised for each channel.
Step four Set out clear guidelines about the type of posts and tone, just as you would for external influencers. Give a weekly brief and monitor it closely.
Step five Set up a company hashtag that employees can use across their posts.
Step six Identify people within the business who can run a trial period, learn what works and then train up the business.
Create an influencer partnership
Using an influencer is a great way to share your brand’s key message, change perceptions and encourage sales of a particular product or service. Influencers do not have to be on Instagram themselves, but can be a person who is an expert in their role.
Reasons to use influencers include:
• The right influencer can help you reach a more targeted, engaged audience.
• They can drive sales by offering a stamp of approval.
• Influencers have a higher than average engagement rate than brands (5.7% versus 2%-3%, according to Business Insider).
• Get access to different styles of creative content and use this on your own channels.
However, how do you choose the right influencer for your business? Battisby refers to the three types of the influencer:
Mega-influencer – these are the Kim Kardashians of social media, with more than 250,000 followers. They are the top earners and can command the highest fees.
Macro-influencer – these have between 50,000 and 250,000 followers and will charge between £500 and £5,000.
Micro-influencer – usually have between 5,000 and 50,000 followers and often don’t ask for a fee, opting for access to the products or experiences.
It is important to remember to follow Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines when using an influencer. For accounts with more than 30,000 followers, the ASA rules that all paid-for posts must be made clear by putting “Ad” at the beginning. You will also see posts with “Paid Partnership” tag or #gifted. Influencers needs to ensure transparency with the ASA.
How to get started with an influencer
• Establish your objectives and your budget
• Begin your research
– Look at existing fans
– Search relevant hashtags
– Review peer brands
• Consider your value exchange
• Provide guidelines
• Consider how you will use the content
• Measure success
• Maintain the relationship.
The top three social media metrics and how to find them
Measuring success is more than simply counting likes and followers, says Battisby, which she describes as a “vanity metric”. Instead, she recommends identifying why your business is on social media in the first place and then reporting on the goals that are most relevant to this purpose.
Using Google Analytics, Instagram Insights, Facebook Ads Manager and third-party tools like Sprout Social, the three metrics Battisby measures are:
Page or profile views How many people actively came to your profile to view content? Screenshot your Facebook and Instagram Insights reports each week to track changes over time.
Engagement Combine likes, reactions, comments, shares, retweets and saves. Battisby recommends using the ‘active posts’ tab in Facebook to measure which posts had the most engagement and also sorting Instagram Insights by ‘shares’ to see which posts got most distributed by your followers.
Conversions The number of sales converted and the cost per thousand impressions (CPM). Battisby sets up goals in Google Analytics and measures website clicks and profile visits in Instagram Insights.
How to optimise LinkedIn
1 Use keywords – search for keywords, note the frequency, and use them in your profile
2 Professional names only, please – people aren’t looking for gimmicks
3 Get serious about your photo – make sure it looks professional
4 Optimise your location – people search for professionals in specific locations
5 Brand your professional headline – you’ve got 110 characters, so make the most of them
6 Customise your profile URL – it looks professional and it’s easy to do
7 Align your industry – be specific about your industry in order to be found by the right people
8 Be active – update your status on a regular basis
9 Expand your professional headline and support it – create a professional summary that ‘closes the deal’
10 Embrace the visual – show examples of your work, videos, presentations and documents
11 Get connected – increase your connections to show up on more searches
12 Strut your stuff – add projects, test scores, courses, patents and certifications to your profile
13 Don’t ignore endorsements, manage them – they affect how you appear in search results
14 Make yourself contactable – provide your email address and links to Twitter and Facebook
15 Build your credibility with recommendations – you have to ask for them, though
16 Fully connect with your past – so people from your past can find you
17 Join relevant LinkedIn Groups – they facilitate conversations and have messaging capability
Top tips from the day
• Learn, innovate, test, repeat
• Be present on Instagram stories every day
• Create valuable content that entertains or educates – don’t sell
• Be human and honest. Post everything – wins and losses
• Set up Facebook Pixel
• Focus on retention versus acquisition
• Use influencers long-term, not as a ‘one-night stand’
• Make your workforce work for you
• Don’t spend hours on reports
• Pay attention to what works creatively. Stop being a brand zealot
• Be consistent