I was reading this statement on Twitter. “The sooner you make your digital marketing personal and human, with stories from and about your customers..the quicker you’ll find success”. I cannot agree more. The way businesses have jumped opportunistically into the Social Media game has always bothered me because I don’t think they are utilising it in the right way.
Over the years, hotel brands, whether they are hotel chains or independent hotels have built their reputation based on their ability to meet guests’ expectations and create meaningful experiences. But, to be more specific, they have built their reputation based on the quality of the service they offer and on their ability to create a positive interaction between hotel employees and customers.
And this is the same key principle of personal interaction that must be retained when using Social Media tools.
Man is a Social Animal – we can’t live solitary and we all need and like to interact. Up to a certain extend, Social Media and blogging are replacing more and more the time we spend at the pub catching-up with friends after work. We talk about our personal life, our work, sex, ideas or politics. The reason the Social Media tools have been so successful so quickly is because they enable humans to exchange at a speed they have never experienced before. And it is proven to be addictive…
But should the Social Media tools just be the new play ground of marketers?
The exponential growth of Social Media and the ability to reach customers at virtually no cost is a gold mine for marketers. But aren’t we missing part of the point here? A successful Social Media strategy is not only about the content of the message we deliver. It is not only to how many customers we managed to deliver it to, it is about replicating online the staff/guests interaction that already exists offline.
Don’t hide behind your tweets
I am not suggesting that companies should be taken out of the game but the more personal and human their interaction the more meaningful the exercise will be and the more successful it will be.
Personally I do follow some companies on Twitter but I have noticed that I am a lot more inclined to read posts or articles coming from a staff of that company (with name and picture) rather than a anonymous corporate entity flagged with a logo. In other words, I would be happy to follow the St Regis New York on Twitter but I would be a lot more excited to follow the St Regis New York concierge, and interact.
1 – Do not only communicate under your corporate entity name but get selected members of your staff to officially Tweet or blog.
2 – Always reply to messages or comments from customers being praises on Facebook or complains on Tripadvisor (or vice-versa). Human beings hate to be ignored when talking in public.
3 – Follow and be followed. It is a two-way street. Talk and listen.
4 – Do not limit your communication to corporate and promotional messages only. Customers want to know how you feel, what you have seen, what you have done, what you think, what the weather is like etc.
5 – Talk about your customers. It is not all about you only.
The more your brand will be present online through relevant communication the quicker you will find success, but don’t forget the key fundamental of the business: the hotel industry is all about human interactions.
Fabrice Burtin – September 2010
Related post from Hotel Marketing Strategies: Delighting Customers in Social Media Era