How to Use Social Media to Your Benefit During COVID-19

April 08th, 2020 | Written by: Brad Illich

It’s safe to say that the advent of Social Media in the mid-2000’s changed the world of marketing forever. Recent years have shown us more and more the full force of Social Media Marketing (SMM) and just how powerful platforms like Facebook and Instagram can be when it comes to reaching new customers and ultimately growing your business.

As we move further into the COVID-19 pandemic, Social Media use is soaring across the globe. In fact, daily usage in apps on Android devices has increased by 20%, and all Social Media apps across both Android and iOS devices have reported significant increases in engagement (appannie). However, regardless of its growing popularity, Social Media can be a hard task to master. That’s why we’ve put together these simple steps you can utilise to make the most of this millennial marketing medium, putting your business in the best position to connect with audiences and increase bookings.

Looks matter

When looking for a restaurant to dine at, a recommendation from a friend just doesn’t cut it anymore. Customers are drawn to the visuals of it all, and photo-based platforms like Instagram can act as the evidence they need to choose one restaurant over another. The same can be said for the tourism industry, with growing numbers of customers turning to Social Media to help them make accommodation decisions based on what they see. Consequently, it’s crucial to put your best foot forward when it comes to showcasing your business through photography. First impressions matter, so professional photos that highlight the most favourable aspects of your business are essential in turning scrolls into bookings. Think well-lit rooms and minimal filters and remember that photos including people tend to garner more engagement (about 35%, in fact), so don’t forget to sprinkle in a few smiles!

The right words

One of the greatest benefits of Social Media, is the ability for customers to use certain platforms as search engines. Utilising keywords, locations and relevant hashtags will help customers find you, just as they would on Google.

Instagram users can easily browse venues, service providers, accommodation options and more, simply by searching hashtags that may be relevant to what they’re looking for. For example, if you’re a Holiday Park based in Brisbane, you might use hashtags like #brisbaneholidaypark, #brisbanecaravanpark or #brisbaneaccomodation. You can use up to 30 hashtags on a single Instagram post, and we suggest using as many as possible, keeping in mind that your purpose is to grow awareness among your target market and increase bookings. If you’re looking to expand your reach in general or perhaps just boost engagement, adding popular hashtags from your specific industry is always a good idea. Some popular hashtags used in the Australian travel and tourism industry and therefore meaning potential guests can find you more easily, include #seeaustralia, #beautifuldestinations, #wonderfulplaces, #visitnsw and so on.

Another way to use keywords to your advantage on Instagram, is to ensure your bio speaks to exactly what you provide as a business. Keep things short and simple, but make sure your customers are aware of who you are, what you offer and where you are based so that your page is more likely to show up in search results. The same goes for any username you choose to use on Social Media. You might be tempted to give your Instagram a creative title, but it’s best to make sure that your page is as easily identifiable and as close to the real deal as possible (underscores are not your friend).

The business of business

In the world of Social Media, there are two very different categories of pages; business and personal. Business and personal accounts have vastly different functions, and as a business, it’s imperative that you choose the former of the two. Business accounts on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can provide your customers with essential prompts that aren’t available on personal accounts and offer the benefit of integration with booking engines to make reservations even easier for your guests. With more people spending time on apps, it’s now imperative to make sure you are using the right account type.

With the click of a button, visitors to your business’s Instagram account can get in touch with you via phone or email, head to your website or get directions to your location. The conveniences go one step further on Facebook, with some reservation systems providing the option to integrate your booking engine with your business page, allowing guests to book their stays directly from your page.  These easy-to-use functions negate the need to open a new tab or do further research, speeding up the reservation process and converting page visitors into customers in no time at all. Having an account with these functions is now more important than ever, with Facebook unsurprisingly topping the charts as the most utilised app during COVID-19 lockdown (appannie), meaning tremendous opportunities for brand exposure.

Stay in touch

Another key advantage of Social Media comes in the form of convenient customer service. Perhaps the handiest function of an App like Instagram, is that you can answer questions from potential customers, promptly and in a way that is easily accessible for both parties. Be sure to turn your notifications on so that you’re alerted whenever a customer has commented on a post or sent you a direct message. This way, you can respond to any questions on-the-spot from your mobile or desktop, making it clear that customer happiness is always a priority to your business.

Using paid ads

While Social Media is a valuable way to gain exposure at a minimal cost, the greatest amount of exposure undoubtedly comes when there is a small financial investment made in the form of Paid Social Media Advertising. The perks of paid ads are vast and varied, but the overarching theme is customisation.

When creating a paid advertisement using Instagram or Facebook, it’s important to remember that the ad will utilise Facebook’s demographic and geographic data to ensure your ad is being shown to the right people. This means that you don’t only need to know your target market, their interests, their needs and their locations, but also their ages, their incomes, the brands or companies that they associate with, and things like specific behaviours so that Facebook can use all this information when promoting your ad. Our suggestion is to map out your target market and run a trial ad at a low budget prior to jumping right in, ensuring that you get the greatest return on investment when you decide to commit to paid Social Media advertising on a larger scale.

It’s clear to see that Social Media Marketing isn’t slowing down any time soon and whether you’re a novice or an expert, it can be a powerful (and affordable) way to up your brand exposure, increase bookings, and ultimately lessen any financial pitfalls from COVID-19.

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