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Buying Facebook Likes for your hotel: good or bad idea?

With its growing influence in the travel space, hotel marketers understand the immense value of earning a legion of “Likes” on their Facebook page. This iconic symbol represents the new currency of social approval—an instant signal of popularity that allows a hotel to quickly establish a level of trust and credibility.

Such value has spawned an online industry where Facebook Likes can be bought in bulk for rock-bottom prices. This culture of buying fans is, however, often unethical in nature and frequently proves ineffective.

But there are legitimate ways to gain Facebook Likes that deliver altogether more impressive results. To delve deeper into this topic, we’ll outline what these methods are after discussing why two of the best-known methods of acquiring Facebook Likes should be avoided.

Method #1: Buying from Facebook Like farms

Google ‘Buy Facebook Likes’ and you’ll find countless sites offering to deliver you thousands of new followers (often deceptively described as “Real Human Users” or “Active Accounts”) for extremely low prices. The cost alone should be enough to arouse suspicions as to the integrity of these services.

In reality, almost all of these Likes are not legitimate fans and are typically users from countries that aren’t even in your target market. Often, you’re effectively paying to gain the approval of an audience with no interest in your hotel.

Cheap prices for Facebook likes

This in itself might not seem such a huge problem if the goal is merely to establish the appearance of popularity on your Facebook Page. But buying Likes comes with some pretty major consequences.

One way to tell if a page has bought Likes: lots of likes but limited to zero engagement on the page’s posts. This can ring alarm bells with the genuine users you’re trying to influence, potentially losing you the very credibility you’re trying to earn.

Limited engagement on your posts heavily impacts your EdgeRank—this is the algorithm Facebook uses to determine where and what posts show up in a person’s News Feed. A page with lots of likes, but only a handful of people liking or sharing its posts? The more inactive fans a page has, the more limited the organic reach of your posts. That means your business will have to spend more on advertising to get reach, and on top of that, a large portion of your advertising dollars will be spent on advertising to fake users that don’t really have any interest in staying in your hotel.

Given its unethical nature and liability to backfire, consider this approach one to strictly avoid.

Method #2: Running FB campaigns to get new Likes

This approach, which is run through the official Facebook Ads platform, represents the more legitimate way to acquire Likes for your page. And it can be effective. In an experiment run by AdEspresso, a Facebook Advertising campaign targeting cat lovers delivered 748 Likes in just one day.

In principle, this sounds like a great result. But despite a potential short-term boost in fans, the long-term value of buying approval doesn’t always stack up.

In our view, putting money into fan acquisition isn’t necessarily the smartest use of your marketing budget—largely because there’s no guarantee any of the new “fans” you acquire will actually end up interacting with your page. At the end of the day, you can end up spending A LOT of money for what ultimately is just vanity metrics.

The better strategy would be to focus on getting actual fans and prospects for your page. These are followers (note some key differences between “Likes” and “Follows”) that legitimately want to read your posts and will actually engage with them, such as previous guests that have been to your hotel and enjoyed their experience there, or interested lookers that have been dreaming about a visit to your destination recently.

The more engaged followers you have, the higher the return on any future marketing campaigns you might run on Facebook.

How to best increase your Facebook Likes

The following five ideas represent the kind of alternative and creative approaches you can take to increase your hotel’s Facebook Likes (and Follows) to capture the right sort of audience for your page.

1) Run a Facebook contest
Since Facebook banned ‘like-gating’ back in 2014, it’s no longer possible to use Likes as a method for contest entry. But you can still run a contest and encourage engagement through an altogether more meaningful form of relationship building.

There are multiple ways you can run a contest on Facebook, but just be sure that any contest follows Facebook’s strict guidelines on what you can or cannot do. For example, you can’t ask people to share your page to enter the contest. In addition to Facebook’s own contest app, there are plenty of platforms available (like this one from Wishpond) that allow you to properly create a social media promotion that follows the guidelines.

Example Facebook contest for hotel
Example of a Facebook contest for a hotel

The buzz of a great contest can build genuine interest among your audience and encourage them to Like your page in order to keep-up-to-date with future contests and giveaways. You can also add a “Like” popup to your contest tab in order to prompt interaction in a way that feels relevant and natural to the browsing experience.

In the interest of gaining as much buzz (and ultimately as many Likes) as possible, it’s worth picking a prize with mass appeal. For instance, a free two-night stay in your most luxurious suite with an evening meal included will undoubtedly appeal to a significant section of your audience.

Finally, make sure you respond to user comments in order to keep momentum going and encourage further engagement.

2) Use Facebook Offers to promote deals to current fans
Facebook’s Offer Claim advertisements allow brands to offer a deal or discount directly to Facebook fans. You can set up discounted rates for fans, and promote these offers with the encouragement to your fans to share them with others.

An official Facebook offer ad not only comes with a call to action to claim the offer or “shop now,” but also includes a Like button near the top of the post to encourage likes from new potential fans.

Example of Facebook Ad with Like button
Example FB ad with Like Page button

3) Engage through Facebook Live
A huge 100 million hours of video are watched daily on Facebook. Using Facebook Live, hotels can make use of an interactive platform to interact with guests through formats such as property tours and Q&A sessions, which provides the perfect forum for gaining fan Likes.

By responding to questions and comments in real-time, you can connect with your audience in an interactive and helpful way while showcasing your hotel’s personality. As well as eliciting Likes as a reaction to your content, a lively and entertaining event will motivate people to Like your video in order to receive updates on future Facebook Live sessions.

4) Inspire with pre-recorded video content
Alongside hosting live interactive video, posting unique pre-recorded content such as behind-the-scenes tours or “how to” demonstrations can be a fantastic way to boost fan Likes.

For example, you could showcase your resident mixologist demonstrating how to whip up the perfect margarita, or post a video of your chef providing gourmet cooking tips while prepping a new signature dish. As in the above examples, you can then add a “Like” button over the top of your videos to acquire new fans.

Aim to post original, fun, insightful or entertaining content that’s aligned with the interests of your audience and gives them a compelling reason to signal their approval.

5) Add a Page Plugin to your hotel blog and website
Simple to do but easy to forget, adding a Page feed to your hotel website and blog represents a hassle-free way to encourage Likes without any obvious form of commercial intent. The Page Plugin integrates directly into your website, showing the first few current posts on your page, as well as having a button that allows users to like your page without having to go to Facebook itself.

Facebook Page Plugin
Facebook’s Page Plugin

Getting Likes by getting creative

You don’t need to buy Likes or require a big marketing budget in order to gain social approval on Facebook. Instead, posting relevant, inspiring, helpful, and creative content that taps into the needs and desires of your typical guest will ensure you build up a base of Facebook Likes through genuine and valuable means of engagement.

While the methods mentioned above won’t necessarily bring you a wealth of new Likes overnight, continued investment in a variety of cost-effective strategies represents a sensible and long-term approach for social media success.

Nancy Huang

Nancy Huang

Nancy is the Senior Marketing Director at Pegasus and expert in strategic communication, brand development, and content marketing. She is an admitted travel junkie and loves finding amazing hotel deals when booking direct. Contact her at nancy.huang@pegs.com.

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