Defining the Role of the Hotel Social Media Manager
By Julie Lepp Director of Marketing, White Oaks Resort | December 15, 2013
Like many hotels, we are in the midst of creating our coming year's marketing plan and discussing our our long term plans. The addition of a Social Media Manager is high on the marketing department's wish list and our discussion has centered around what the ideal candidate should look like. Is this a position at all or a third-party company contracted to manage these platforms on our behalf? Hands down, the most heated debate involves whether this will be a senior or junior position. With the increase in popular platforms, handling social media is getting harder within the confines of our regular job roles, that is a glaringly obvious fact.
The trend seems to be towards bringing on a social media manager as a junior position. The candidate would be a new graduate, satisfied with a lower pay scale and very familiar with these platforms, using them daily in their own personal lives. Hire in a nice young person, give them a start in their professional life, sit them at a desk, provide them the passwords to your active-but-not-overly-so social media accounts and forget about them! Then you can proudly go about your more important marketing tasks knowing that the pesky social media issue has been dealt with and is under control.
Or maybe, even better, throw the whole social media mess over to a professional company that, for a fee, will handle it for you. They'll post and respond and track and provide reports. All fantastic. Problem solved.
But consider this: The very reason hotels should be present in social media is to listen to what their guests are saying about their brand and to interact with their customers - to have a voice in the conversation and present their company as an approachable, friendly place to do business. Why would we trust the voice of our brand, reaching the entire world, to a new hire right out of school with little to no experience with our hotel, customer service or how we handle complaints?
Customer comment cards - whether in print or online - are taken very seriously in our industry. They are circulated and shared among department heads to ensure everyone is made aware of kudos and complaints alike. Problems can be discussed and reviewed and processes can be changed to ensure better service and experience. Staff can be congratulated and rewarded, based on a good comment card. In most cases, a letter to the customer is composed, proofed and approved before being sent out by mail to the customer thanking them for taking the time to comment. We may even need a quick meeting to address a concern that has been raised and decide on an appropriate response and action. Meanwhile, as this is all methodically taking place, three offices down, a new graduate is casually chatting up those same customers in real time, with no review or approval process, because social media is immediate.
This is the current state of the hotel industry – one foot in each world. The old-school comment card which is methodically reviewed vs. the immediate wonder of social media.