Hospitality Social Media Marketing: Influence Critical Customer Reviews

UGC (User Generated Content), especially in the form of customer reviews, can send scads of excited visitors to your door credit card in hand, or destroy your business's reputation overnight by polluting SERPs. It's certainly a double edge sword.

More and more search marketers lay awake at night, in pools of sweat, freaking out about losing brand control in light of UGC. Hospitality industry SEM success can be the stuff of peaceful dreams or horrible nightmares. Unfortunately/luckily it's all in the hands of actual customers-or well placed shill reviewers.

What sites does Google mine hospitality reviews from, many of which are submitted by the public? How does a hotel or restaurant business get a grip and influence reviews? What major travel and review sites should hotels and restaurants point happy customers (or savvy stand-ins) towards in order to bolster, cleanse, and protect reputation?

Miriam Ellis has published an extremely practical case study over at SearchEngineJournal, profiling websites from which Google harvests reviews showing up in the ever dominant (and now 10-list) “one box” results. She profiled “1000 reviews listed in Google Maps for hospitality industry businesses" and shared results.

If you're objective is to “finesse” reviews from your restaurant or hotel's happy customers, the majority of the 34 sources listed accept public reviews and are therefore susceptible to (at least) some level of manipulation by pleased patrons or savvy local search marketers. Aol.com to Zagat.com, Google's predominant hospitality site sources are listed along with suggested strategies and tactics.

In the rollercoaster world of Google SERPs, especially in light of Universal Search and ever-expanding local search, the landscape is frighteningly fluid. Sites like Yelp appear, disappear, and reappear in Google reviews practically overnight, leaving narrowly targeted review-writing campaigns subject to overnight obsolescence.

Hedge your bet. Miriam's post lays priceless groundwork to cast a wide net, understand, and influence the multi-headed Google review SERP monster to your hospitality business's benefit.

About the author

Marty is author of "Killer Facebook Ads" (Wiley/Sybex 2011) and CEO of aimClear, an online marketing agency that has managed Facebook ad campaigns generating over 10 billion impressions internationally. Client credits include MarthaStewart.com, Siemens, Second Life, Budget Direct, and other global brands.

He’s written extensively for respected Internet marketing trade publications and been quoted in many others. aimClear Blog has been cited as among the Technorati Top 10 Small Business Blogs, Cison Top Ten Social Media Blogs, PRWeb’s 25 Essential Public Relations Blogs You Should Be Reading, and listed in the AdAge Power150.

A fixture on the international conference circuit, Marty speaks regularly at Search Engine Strategies (SES). Marty founded and produces the aimClear Full Day Facebook Marketing Intensive Workshop.

He has been described as “not your typical agency type.” A “social media maverick” and “more innovator than follower.” aimClear has become internationally recognized for its work in demographic research, especially as pertains to search, Facebook, and LInkedIn.

Marty and his aimClear team specialize in paid and organic search and social online marketing. aimClear’s services include blended search and social demographic research; search engine optimization (SEO) technical and semantic audits, analytics monitoring, and consulting; pay-per-click (PPC) audits, setup, testing, and ongoing management; online reputation management (ORM) dashboard configuration and ongoing monitoring; social media marketing consulting and data-driven community management; public relations; and copywriting.