With Whom Should You Trust Your Social Media Management?

Marketing Manager, Social Media Manager or Outside Consultant?

By Rana Kay Director of Public Relations, Hard Rock Hotel San Diego | February 03, 2013

According to Facebook, the number one social media site topped one billion active monthly users this year, Twitter reports 175 million tweets broadcasted daily and over 800 million people visit YouTube each month, reports the video sharing site. Having an active social media presence is more impactful than ever, but who will manage it most effectively? The key to assigning social media management is to identify the company's goals – will it be used as a marketing and branding tool, a sales tool, a public relations tool or a customer service tool? When managed effectively, a social media program can and should combine all of the above. Once the goals have been defined, there will be a much clearer picture about who is best equipped to manage it - an established employee, a newly-created social media manager position or an outside consultant.

Social Media as a Marketing Tool

Talk to any hotel executive or investor about a brand's social media strategy and the first question on their minds will address projected return on investment (ROI) – as in, how will it generate revenue for the hotel and how will we quantify results. It's a fair question. While the jury is still out on how much revenue is currently generated via social media efforts, it should play a large part of a marketing plan and it is critical for the marketing team to be highly involved in overall social media strategy.

Social media channels can provide an effective extension of a marketing campaign, from spreading the word about current sales and promotions, circulating coupons, and more and more frequently, as part of an annual advertising buy. While self-promotion should be interspersed with engaging "selfless" content, fans and followers on social media are an audience that has proven to be interested in your brand, so it's the model platform in which to market the product. However, while marketing is a very important component of social media, if a hotel is solely using it for self-promotion, and not to engage personally with guests, or to respond directly to issues that may arise, it can come be more harmful than beneficial. This is why departmental collaboration needs to come into play.

Social Media as a Public Relations/Crisis Communications Tool

Public relations professionals are trained communicators, proficient at messaging architecture, crafting stories, building relationships, and perhaps, most importantly crisis response and management. More frequently consumers are taking their voices to social media to voice complaints and broadcast issues to a wider audience, so it's important for a public relations department to play an active role in a hotel's social media strategy.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.