Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Aug 15, 2017 in Social Media

A Quick Guide to WeChat

The more I explore WeChat, the more I see that you really can do everything within this one app. There is no more need to have apps on your phone for Facebook, Skype, Uber, Tinder, Amazon, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc., as these are all included in this one app! But here’s what you need to know about WeChat and how it works.

Where did WeChat come from?
WeChat was an instant messenger app originally launched in China in January 2011 under the name of Weixin. Quickly, the app evolved: adding videos in August 2011, voice and video calls in July 2012, syncing with Facebook and Twitter in September 2012 and, in the same month, reaching 200 million registered users. Gaming and mobile payments were added in August 2013 and taxi bookings in January 2014. In May 2014, WeChat stores launched, allowing any business to have a virtual store within the WeChat app. In June 2014, money transfers launched followed by WeChat phone payments in September 2014 (like Apple Pay). (Source: TechInAsia) Now, in Q1 of 2017, WeChat reported having 938 million active monthly users!

What is WeChat?
Basically, WeChat merged together apps you currently know to form one app that includes WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, Uber, Amazon, Instagram, Tinder, Twitter, YouTube and more. You can also do things like make your appointment at the doctors or see how busy it is at the shopping center you were going to head to after work! You really can do everything in one app, but what does this mean?

Consumer Data
WeChat currently holds a phenomenal amount of consumer data for everyone that uses the app. Just think about it – they know everything: where you are, where you’re going, what you had for lunch, what holidays you are planning, what new clothes you are looking to buy and who you are currently socializing with. Now, although the thought of this can be quite scary for an individual, from an advertising perspective, it’s a marketer’s dream. By having all this data, WeChat is able to allow companies to really target their specific clientele and anyone else who matches these profiles.

Why should you know about WeChat?
I recently came across an ad of sorts for WeChat which was put together by Jonah M. Kessel and Paul Mozur at The New York Times – I would recommend skipping in 2 minutes 15 seconds if you don’t have time to watch the full clip. It really does provide everything you need to know.


(Video Source: New York Times)

Read More

Posted by on Aug 8, 2017 in All Matters SEO, Social Media

5 Actionable Facebook SEO Tips

Michael Rosenblatt was one of two MDS 2017 summer interns. During his time with us, we challenged him to write a blog post about content that he learned while working with our team.

5 Actionable Facebook SEO Tips(Image Source: Pexels)

When we think of Facebook and Google, we tend to categorize one as a social network and the other as a search engine. Where they certainly have subtle differences, both companies have the same objective in mind which is to keep consumer attention for as long as possible. Initially, Google’s mission was to pass its users along to different sites as quickly as possible. Over the years, that mission changed to finding ways to make money off the user while they’re searching. In 2011, Google+ was launched as a means to enter into the social realm. The internet giant couldn’t seem to figure it out as they went through many failures and false starts.

As Google was stumbling to emerge into social, Facebook kept growing larger and becoming more influential. By 2010, Facebook was approaching 500 million users with real names, birthdays, photos and a network of connections. From a hotel perspective, the growth rate and number of active users of Facebook is what makes it so enticing. Given all the data Facebook provides, creates for a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on potential guests for your hotel. When creating a Facebook Ad, your hotel can optimize the ad by targeting specific location, demographics, age, gender, interests, behavior and connections. Due to specific targeting, your hotel should have a precise idea of who they are intending to reach. One imperative element your hotel should consider is optimizing for SEO keywords. The idea is to choose keywords that are relevant and provide value to your hotel. An extremely useful tool to assist you with this is, Moz’s Keyword Explorer. This tool provides accurate monthly search volume data, an idea of how difficult it will be to rank for your keyword, estimated click-through rates and a score representing your potential to rank.

Why SEO for Facebook is Now Important as Ever?

Little-to-none of Facebook’s activity is indexed by Google or other mainstream search engines. Therefore, it is essential to start optimizing your hotel for Facebook’s internal search.

5 Actionable Facebook SEO Tips:

  1. Facebook social signals can have a lot of potential for SEO value – use it as a channel to build traffic and links back to your hotel website.
  2. Name your profiles correctly and fill out the entire profile completely – use the full name of your hotel across all social media channels. All areas of the profile should be completed: photos, bio, videos, links, topics, tags – whatever the channel offers, take full advantage of it.
  3. Take advantage of the customized meta titles and images when you share links in your posts. Facebook will automatically pull in images and titles from your website to display in a carousel like post – however, you can choose which images you wish to upload and edit the text.
  4. Link to legitimate accounts – remember relevance is important and if the social media profile of a group or user looks unnatural or keyword-stuffed, your reputation is at risk.
  5. Ensure UNAP (URL, Name, Address, and Phone Number) are accurate and consistent. Never use variations of your hotel’s UNAP.

As Facebook continues to grow past its current 1.9 billion users they are going to keep innovating ways to capture the user’s attention. One of those ways is by continuously improve the user’s search experience. Google is aware of this threat, as of July 19th Google announced to redesign their mobile search app with a personalized feed. The offering is called “Google Feed” which you may note is very much like Facebook’s “News Feed.” Facebook and Google are battling for attention online so it is imperative they each continue to innovate and evolve. With that said, it is important to stay up on the latest trends for both platforms in order to optimize them for your guests. With this post, I wanted to specifically highlight successful SEO tips for Facebook. Facebook’s News Feed algorithm has a history of being updated on a continuous basis. Therefore, staying up-to-date on these changes is critical to the success of your hotels presence on the platform.

Read More

Posted by on May 30, 2017 in Social Media

Showcasing Each Experience

The rise of technology and service innovation has, without a doubt, created more options, greater experiences and convenience, and more trip personalization. But as more of our next gen travelers find and develop their brand loyalty, companies are looking for ways to enhance experiences through their brands. As brands continue to focus on pristine amenities, there has become more focus on the “off-site” memorable travel experiences that can be found after check-in.

How has Marriott created experiences?

It’s no secret that Marriott has forged the path as a long-time leader in providing guests with customized travel opportunities, through our array of brands across the globe. Thanks to a recent investment in PlacePass, Marriott guests are able to leverage an online meta-search platform for in-destination experiences.

Regardless of your interests – from walking and bus tours of your favorite scenes of witchcraft and wizardry, to hang gliding in Switzerland, whether you are traveling alone, as a couple, or family, or if you have a few hours to spare, or a few days – guests who travel with Marriott will get the most out of their travels.

How have platforms created social planning experiences?

As more and more modern tourists are exposed to media platform trip planning, the competition to be the top provider of local attractions has become far more fierce. TripAdvisor’s ability to rank top attractions by location was certainly ground breaking. However, the next gen traveler has made a shift to top ranked attractions and wants to experience hidden gems within their destinations.

Facebook’s app feature of “City Guides” has certainly helped next gen travelers create a more tailored experience then previous apps have leveraged. Through City Guides, Facebook creates suggestions based on “places locals go” (based on resident Facebook users) and top visited attractions your friends have been to, as well as displaying any Facebook friends who have visited the city.

Image of cell screen

(Image Source: TechCrunch)

Since City Guides are a recent addition to Facebook, there seems to be a large focus on major international cities, and not the small, out-of-the-way locales that are also popular destinations, like beachy island paradises, secluded resort towns, and more. We can only hope that City Guides will be expanded in the future so that you could pull up any city in the world, no matter its size, and see what your friends partook in.

How can you showcase different experiences on social?

As social media platforms continue to expand their features, hotels should capitalize every time a follower sees content. Leveraging your social profiles with surrounding area content has always been encouraged. However, a great way in which you can showcase experiences is through Instagram’s ability to share multiple images using album like posting.

When there are multiple options both on and off property, try sharing those experiences in an Instagram carousel post. If you are a resort with a spa, golf course, or great dining options, try creating a post showing visually stunning images in one post.

Instagram Photo Carousels

(Image Source: Recode)

Because today’s customers are more informed and more volatile, it’s important to turn next-gen travelers into loyal, consistent customers by enhancing every experience. It’s this loyalty – created through legendary experiences – that will have a huge impact on encouraging guests to explore your surrounding areas while retreating to your hotel.

Read More

Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Social Media

Live in 3..2..1!

Streaming live videos through social feeds has been a popular, fast rising trend which has developed in a short period of time. The trend initially began with Snapchat, a platform where short videos are shared with specific friends privately, or on your story. With 158 million people using Snapchat daily and live video popularity rapidly increasing, other social platforms caught on and started instilling live capabilities of their own.

Live Streaming

(Image Source: Facebook Live)

Live videos are a fun and engaging way to reach existing and new followers in real time. Live videos show followers an authentic and real perspective, which enables engaging conversations, the capability to answer questions and hear users’ thoughts. It allows users to be a part of the occasion, without physically attending. You can also add a creative twist to videos with unique filters and stickers.

Below, we discuss how hotels can utilize live streaming for each specific platform.

Facebook Live: a capability that allows up to four hours of live broadcasting to existing followers, as well as new ones. Facebook Live is available on all pages and profiles on Facebook. After the live broadcast is done, the video will be published on the page or profile so that fans and friends who missed the video can watch it later on. The video can be deleted at any time, just like any other post. Users can utilize Live Reactions to gauge how the broadcast is going. Facebook has a dedicated place to watch live videos, and with this capability, current fans can experience the video, while gaining and reaching new followers too.

Facebook Live

(Image Source: Facebook Live)

Facebook Live Video

(Image Source: Facebook Live)

How to go live:

  • Tap “What’s on Your Mind” at the top of News Feed
  • Select “Live Video” from the drop down menu
  • Add a description to let your audience know what’s happening before hitting “Go Live”
  • A 3-second countdown will appear and the broadcast will begin

Instagram Live: Instagram stories allows users to create media that appears at the top of your followers’ news feed for 24 hours. Because of Instagram news feed algorithms, keeping an IG story fresh can help your account stay at the top of your audiences Instagram app.  

On Instagram, users can get creative and stand out by adding various stickers to stories. Stickers can depict a user’s current location, time, weather and specific themed stickers (holiday, seasonal, particular to the day, fun stickers and emojis). Adding a location sticker is essentially the same as tagging the location, like in regular Instagram posts.

Instagram Live

(Image Source: The Verge)

Additionally, @mention of other accounts can be included, which these accounts will be notified when tagged. All of these options are capable of being saved on a phone, but will not continue to live on Instagram.

Instagram Live Video

(Image Source: Pocket-lint)

How to go live:

Tap on the “Your Story” profile photo (with the + sign next to it) at the top of the news feed. This takes you to your Instagram stories, where you can choose from 4 options:

  • Live – Once a live video has ended, it is no longer visible on Instagram
  • Normal – A photo or video disappearing in 24 hours
  • Boomerang – Time-lapse, back and forth like short video
  • Hands-free – Start a video with just a tap, versus the rest of the videos where have to hold down to record

Snapchat videos: Send photos and live videos that are that are only available for up to 10 seconds at a time. These videos can live on “your story” or be sent to friends. Your story is available for 24 hours, and photos/videos sent to friends are only available for the time that’s set when sent. After that, all media disappears. These photos and videos can be saved by pressing the square with an arrow in it, at the bottom right. Utilize Snapchat’s features of: lenses, geofilters, stickers, emojis and text if appropriate.

Snapchat Video

(Image Source: Wired)

Snapchat Video

(Image Source: Wired)

How to go live:

  • Press down circle button at the bottom middle for the entirety of video
  • Tap blue arrow button on the bottom right
  • Select if you want it to be displayed as “My Story” (displays the photo/video to all of your followers), “My Memories”(saves the photo/video), or specific friends

Twitter Live:  Create and tweet live video from the Twitter app, which is powered by Periscope.

When live, anyone on Twitter and Periscope can watch. The video can be discovered from Home timeline, notifications, search, and trending topics. A live video on Twitter goes anywhere a Tweet can go. It is searchable, and can be embedded on other websites. It also exists and is searchable on Periscope. If Tweets are protected, there is no option to go live.

Twitter Live(Image Source: Twitter)

How to go live:

  • Compose a tweet, then tap “LIVE” which takes users to the pre-broadcast screen where the shot can be framed
  • When ready, press “Go Live” to start broadcasting

Tips for live streaming:

  1. Get creative to stand out and be more engaging – use filters, stickers, texts, and emojis when appropriate
  2. Be engaging with users during the video
  3. Prepare beforehand
  4. Save the videos for future usage
  5. Have the latest version of the app to have access to the latest features

Ideas on when to use live streaming:

  1. Hotel special events, whether it’s a fashion show hosted at the hotel or a themed dinner an outlet is hosting.
  2. Share a unique feature of the hotel, explaining the usage and availability.
  3. Give a tour of a renovated aspect of the hotel.

In conclusion, live videos are a great way to engage existing and new followers. Without physically attending, it lets viewers be virtually involved in what’s happening. Between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat – there are plenty of opportunities to create engaging and interactive content with live video capabilities. Do you have any questions about live videos? Comment your questions below!

Read More

Posted by on Apr 18, 2017 in Social Media

How Social Media Algorithms Impact Your Digital Presence

When you unlock your cell phone and scroll through your favorite social media apps, you are likely to notice those social media apps are starting to look a little … similar.

As social media mega companies like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat have evolved, they’ve started to borrow product ideas from each other in the hope of building an all-in-one experience. Although these apps are beginning to show great similarity, the algorithm behind each platform is truly unique.

What is a platform algorithm, why are they here?

Algorithms are certainly becoming gatekeepers that consumers have grown to love, while brands have found them to be a pain. Prior to social media algorithms, posts on social platforms were created equally and the only factor to seeing a post was when it was posted. Every post had the same chance of getting in front of followers regardless of company size.

However, as the number of accounts on each platform began to grow, what once seemed like a few vehicles on a popular digital content expressway turned into rush hour on a congested two-lane highway. To help traffic flow, social platforms began implementing strategic formulas of code to utilize information dedicated to pages and content you have interacted with. Through these formulas (algorithm), users are now fed content that the social platforms have deemed “relevant” to your lifestyle.

Why does each platform have a unique algorithm?

On social media, users tend to over share personal content that holds little relevance to the general population. Each algorithm uses unique engagement factors (Facebook Reactions, Twitter RTs, Instagram’s saved feature, etc.) to leverage their unique forms of engagement to help lift meaningful content above less relevant content.

How do algorithms help consumers?

If each algorithm works to its potential, consumers are fed content tailored specifically to them. Based upon on how they have reacted to past content, each platform is able to evangelize which content is most meaningful to its audience.

How do algorithms work?

When a piece of content is published on a social platform, it is shown to a small group of your followers. From there, the platform in which you posted will try to mathematically analyze the engagement the content is receiving, and will receive in the future.

When Facebook first released the reaction button feature, many were left curious to know how this would affect the algorithm. Would certain buttons carry more clout than others, if it all? And was the introduction of reactions a way to further decide which content should be shared with an individual?

Facebook Reactions + Labels

(Image Source: Facebook Brand Resource Center)

Tips to leverage and understand algorithms:

1.) Understand that high quality content can be seen at any time

Since all popular social platforms have algorithms built into their content distribution, thinking you need to post at a certain time everyday isn’t as critical. The timing of responding to comments and engagement is important in the essence that higher response times can help nurture relationships and show platforms that you are an active contributor. Each social platform is finding ways to show tailored content when you return to the app.

For example: When scrolling through the Twitter app, your scrolling will cross the “in case you missed it” section of tweets where the accounts you engage with most will appear.

Instagram stories also shows a similar dynamic by showing content from engaging accounts first, instead of timing.

2.) Keep an eye on the destination URLs you are linking to

Platforms have started to track which URLs you are linking to in your call to action. To avoid any potential algorithm hazards for repetition, be sure to direct links to different pages on your site.

3.) Take advantage of new platform features

The purpose of social media posting is to take advantage of engagements with followers. As new features are introduced, higher quality of content production and guest experience soon follow. It is crucial to experiment with new features within social platforms. In the past, utilizing features can result in boosted placement within the algorithm. When Instagram rolled out the ability to share a carousel of content, brands were given the ability to share more content and further enhance potential experience in a streamlined fashion.

For example: Properties looking to expand the awareness of their onsite dining restaurants were previously forced to create multiple posts which often resulted in an inconsistent post. Thanks to the carousel feature, properties can create a post highlighting their outlets while sharing multiple images within one post. Users who view the post are being served more content in less posting.

4.) Create content that consumers will react to

Not too long ago, Facebook introduced the reaction tool bar. What seemed like a clever way to show your reaction to a piece of content has become a new factor within the algorithm. Facebook has been secretly tracking user reactions to content and tailoring each newsfeed to accommodate content that will further enhance your experience. Have you noticed that pieces of content you react to negatively don’t seem to enter your newsfeed? That’s because Facebook wants to bring more positive engagement.

Please note: If you react negatively to a piece of content, and comment, Facebook is likely to share similar topics. This strategy is not to make your experience less positive, but instead encourage further engagement on the platform.

Meaning: Reactions alone can affect your newsfeed. Reactions + Comments will be given a boost in awareness and likely will appear more frequently.

5.) Do not ask for engagement

We have all seen contests that ask you to share a piece of content and comment on the page. Facebook and Twitter have acquired AI startups to target accounts that ask users to share or comment. Every algorithm has been built with a series of punishing consequences for soliciting engagement. If you would like to encourage follower engagement, be sure to create copy that asks a meaningful question and does not clearly note a sweepstakes or contest.

Digital Services is dedicated to better understanding social algorithms as platforms evolve. We are excited to learn more about how each platform leverages your favorite pieces of content, and are excited to share these lessons with you in the future.

Read More

Posted by on Apr 11, 2017 in All Matters SEO, Social Media

Everything WeChat

Ever wonder what Chinese consumers use as their social media platform? Well, it is not Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

As of January 2017, there are over 846 million active WeChat users, making WeChat the 4th most popular mobile app in the world and 2nd most popular in China.

So what exactly is WeChat? WeChat is a free instant messaging application that provides text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, sharing of photographs and videos, as well as location sharing.

WeChat Features

  • Moments, a blend of Facebook and Twitter, is WeChat’s main social media feature. It allows you to maintain a user profile where you can post photos and status updates. One of the main selling points of WeChat is that it offers users an enhanced privacy experience where you can control which of your friends can see what you like and comment without having to block the user.
  • Heat map allows the Chinese government to track irregular assemblies of people to determine if more security is needed. Users can also use this map to determine when they should visit a certain location based on the crowd and how busy it is.
  • WeChat wallet is a convenient, secure and efficient  tool that allows users to pay via their phone. Over half of WeChat’s users have linked multiple bank cards to the app. This is a huge win because China is known for fraud and cyber security issues. Like Venmo and Facebook Messenger, WeChat allows you to pay your friends while texting.
  • WeChat also allows you to generate your own personalized QR code. This feature allows you to transfer money to people you are not friends with by simply scanning the code off your phone.
  • Shake is another feature that WeChat offers that allows you to meet new people. You can simply shake your phone and if someone is in the same area shaking their phone, their profile will pop up and you can send him or her a greeting.
  • In China, a red envelope or red packet is known as a symbolic monetary gift which is given during holidays or special occasions. The color red symbolizes good luck and is a symbol to ward off evil spirits. During the Chinese New Year of 2016, 8 billion payments occurred via WeChat.

Types of WeChat Official Accounts

There are three different types of official WeChat accounts:

  1. Subscription Accounts are commonly used for daily news and broadcasts. They allow businesses to send one message per day to their followers. However, users can only access the content by accessing a subscription subfolder.
  2. Compared to a subscription account, Service Accounts will offer advanced features and focus on providing services instead of message broadcasts. Followers will receive push notifications from the businesses once a week and businesses can build their own applications within a Service Account.
  3. Enterprise Accounts, also known as Corporate Accounts, are an enhanced version of how Western businesses use platforms like Slack. Companies can set up private group chats, share memos, and project management systems within the account.

International vs. Mainland China

Due to China’s business requirements, WeChat has differentiated the benefits of WeChat accounts between mainland China and the rest of the globe. If a business has a Chinese phone number, the business qualifies for a Mainland China WeChat Official Account. This allows users all around the world to access the business’s official account. On the other hand, if the business is outside of mainland China and owns an international account, then only non-China users can access the international account.

Currently, only mainland China registered businesses can have their WeChat accounts verified. There are no differences between an unverified and a verified subscription account. The main disadvantage of an unverified service account is that the business does not have access advanced features.

Mini Programs

In the next few years, WeChat’s main focus will be on mini programs. Essentially, this feature follows a “one app rule them all” concept where users can use an app just by scanning the QR codes or searching on WeChat. Even though there are no official WeChat app stores, mini programs are directly competing against the Apple Store and Google Play App Store.

WeChat Mini Program

(Image Source: Chozan)

There are a couple main benefits to mini programs:

  • Using an app within WeChat allows a user to skip the registration process because his/her personal and payment information is already available on WeChat. Tencent, WeChat’s parent company, will support WeChat to protect the customer’s information. With a secured wallet, users are more willing to purchase via mobile app, therefore will increase the mobile spend in the future.
  • Only light apps, simplified applications, are allowed on mini programs. Therefore, the apps will be fast and easy to use. On top of that, users are more willing to try new apps as the apps take up less space on a smartphone.

As WeChat continues to grow in China, companies around the world are incorporating this app as part of their marketing campaigns. The future of WeChat remains as a leader in mobile apps and technology.

Read More