How Sofitel Earned 28,000 Twitter Followers and Became One of Klout’s Top 20 Most Influential Hotels
Travel Spike Social Media Manager Carly Redgers and President Ryan Bifulco shared with us the inside story on how Sofitel Luxury Hotels earned over 28,000 quality followers on Twitter – and became one of Klout’s Top 20 Most Influential Hotels – within one year.
How do you define “quality” Twitter followers?
Quality is, of course, very subjective. For some clients, you might say it’s related to power or influence, so you’d review their Klout score. Our project objective – how we define quality – is to earn fans and followers that are local and interested in fine dining, wine or french culture.
Tip #1 – Appoint a social media coordinator for each property.
This person will be the eyes and ears on the property, including sharing specials at the spa or menu changes at the restaurant. They coordinate with sales, marketing, weddings, meetings, events and the concierge to share updates and help their social media team get the message out.
How did you select a social media coordinator at each property? What was your criteria?
We asked each hotel to identify the person that either had the most experience or enthusiasm for social media. Since Travel Spike trained them on social media and we ultimately handle social media strategy and management, we did not need anyone to be an expert, just passionate about the project and willing to learn.
Tip #2 – Be authentic.
Customers don’t want to read updates that sound like a robot has written them. Sofitel is a unique upscale brand known for its stellar service and French style, so the social media updates stay true to the product.
Could you define “be authentic?” How did you allow personality to come through while still adhering to guidelines?
Authentic means to keep things real and applicable, rather than just sharing corporate robotic propaganda – regardless of the company. Sofitel does have corporate guidelines, but we allowed the brand’s personality to shine.
Sofitel is French, stylish, magnificent, elegant and upscale. So we give their social media presence a bit of a personal touch, and include local specials and events they support.
Tip #3 – Target your demographics.
For Sofitel, targeting discerning travelers and gourmet diners remains a top priority.
How did you target demographics?
We started the social media program with just Facebook and Twitter, and we’re expanding the program in 2011 to new outlets. Our team reviews public information provided in profiles on Facebook and Twitter. Our Miami hotel networks with people living in the Miami area, for example, because they want to promote their restaurant and bar to locals.
Tip #4 – Sprinkle in local events.
Show off your concierge skills by becoming the local inside source for events, parties and festivals. Sofitel Los Angeles, for example, tweeted live from their recent Golden Globe Gifting Suite.
How else can events can be used as a social marking device?
You can do a lot with events. We’ve organized TweetUps at properties – where we invite Twitter users to network in person. We tweet live during the event for extra exposure. You can also Tweet live from other events around the city or promote events on the Facebook events calendar.
Tip #5 – Engage with your audience. Don’t just sell.
The quickest way to lose a consumer is to ‘bang them over the head’ with product information. Sofitel Washington DC asked their Facebook fans which DC tips they would like to receive; consumers responded that they want to hear more about museums, family travel, luxury dining, and romantic tips for couples.
What questions did you find got the most engagement? Can you tell us a little more about how you used social media for research?
We keep things fresh and engaging by varying interactions with our followers; fun trivia questions are very well received. We solicit feedback from the followers and invite them to participate in the process, which goes over quite well. For example, we might ask followers to vote on a type of drink special, or suggest a new spa treatment.
We use the reporting provided in Facebook, and also review reports from a social analytics company – Sofitel’s social media research partner. Our team does social media research on the competition, and we poll users to gauge interest and test new programs, as well.
Thanks, Carly and Ryan!
Industry insiders Geraldine Daly and Are Morch called it, “the most comprehensive Facebook piece I have seen to date,” and “the type of information we need more of.”
Seventh Art Media’s second comprehensive analysis – available in its entirety below – examines 135 hotel Twitter accounts and more than 120,000 tweets from November 1, 2010 to January 31, 2011 and identifies hotels’ best opportunities for finding and increasing their accounts’ value.
1. Commit to slow, quality growth.
As we developed our initial list of hotel Twitter accounts for our analysis, we noticed two phenomena that were striking: First of all was the number of “dead” accounts. These are accounts with several thousand followers that simply stopped functioning one day, but continue to gain followers and mentions that are never responded to or acknowledged.
The second phenomenon of note is the underperformance of highly hyped accounts. We’ve all seen our share of “top 10” lists of hotel Twitter accounts. In performing our list building due diligence, we combed through dozens of Google results for top hotel accounts that various authors recommended we follow. What we saw was startling. These lists in total yielded only a few reasonably performing accounts and significantly more failures—including several dead accounts.
Playing catch-up or making a goal of rapid, low quality follower growth creates minimal returns on the investment. Twitter accounts that commit to slow, quality growth and maintain engagement are reaping the rewards of their efforts.
2. Facebook and Twitter efforts are complementary, but should not overlap.
On average, accounts with a high volume of cross-posts between Twitter and Facebook significantly underperform the ones that handle each channel separately.
Facebook is an exemplary platform for creating reach and amplification but it requires a strong content pipeline and is weak in creating sustained engagement.
In contrast, Twitter is an engagement-driven platform that requires care and commitment to build — but once it moves past a threshold level of engagement and volume it rapidly becomes a valuable brand asset.
3. Follower growth – in and of itself – is a meaningless statistic.
Quality followers will engage and interact with a hotel via Twitter as well as amplify the hotel’s content. Unengaged followers are a black hole for content and add no value to a hotel’s social media efforts and investments.
The figure below lists the top 20 accounts in our study by value. While the top tier is dominated by hotel casinos and hotel brands, we see that some property-specific Twitter accounts have also built out a valuable asset. In just a few months’ time, the newly launched Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas has created the most valuable hotel Twitter account among all those studied. The highest valuation for an independent hotel’s Twitter account is the Roger Smith Hotel in New York City.
In both cases, these accounts have lower followings than some of their direct competition, but by focusing on engagement and building quality follower bases they have created far more value. So the question is clearly not “how many followers do I need?” but “how do I get the right followers?”
4. Twitter strategies need to be goal-oriented from day one.
Once these goals are established, the hotel team can build out a long-term roadmap to help overcome internal obstacles, establish an operational culture around commitment to the channel, and begin to earn its way to the top.
The top five performing accounts in Seventh Art Media’s study have a current valuation of over $100k and their values are exponentially growing. In Seventh Art Media’s estimation, hotel brands and properties at any level should be able to realize measurable positive ROI levels with proper goals, planning and organizational commitment in place. Once the asset is built, maintenance costs will drop in relation to returns. The time to invest is now.
Read the full report here:
It seems Klout is receiving a lot of attention and buzz recently, and for good reason. If you’re not familiar with their concept yet, they provide a way to measure a person’s influence on the social web. The explanation from their website is probably best:
The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.
True Reach is the size of your engaged audience and is based on those of your followers and friends who actively listen and react to your messages. Amplification Score is the likelihood that your messages will generate actions (retweets, @messages, likes and comments) and is on a scale of 1 to 100. Network score indicates how influential your engage audience is and is also on a scale from 1 to 100. The Klout score is highly correlated to clicks, comments and retweets.
I’m not a celebrity….
…but apparently I’m a niche specialist:
I’ll take that.
How you should use influence scoring when providing service
The value of using influence scoring measurements such as Klout when managing a social media campaign is not to provide different quality levels of service. The consumer of today is clearly more empowered than ever before. Discriminating on how well you solve problems for people is short-sighted, if not downright stupid.
However, I believe it’s useful to provide different kinds of service in different situations.
For example: Influence scoring is useful in determining who in your organization should be involved in the response and followup action. Do you need to bring in the PR director or another department manager? Who needs to be involved to provide the best resolution for the consumer and your company?
I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below:
How are you using Klout? What role do you think influence scoring should play in social media service and online reputation management?
ReviewPro announces Klout integration
Today ReviewPro announced integration of Klout influence scores with their social media monitoring tool. [Tnooz story] I think any hotel looking to increase their online visibility should monitor as many (relevant) metrics as possible in planning big-picture strategy and also day-to-day actions. Klout scoring gives us one more reference point for these decisions.
In the last episode of This Week in Hotels, we went through some of the biggest mistakes travel companies make in using Twitter. (Inspired by Darren’s post here.) You can listen to the whole conversation in that post, but I just wanted to summarize the main points here.
Mistake #1 – Registering, but not responding
Darren: The main thing really was companies that sign up to Twitter and then don’t respond to people’s questions and complaints.
I had a recent experience where I was stranded in The Hague and I tried to contact the airline via Twitter and nobody acknowledged me or responded to any of my questions. I’ve seen it happen with other people as well.
The thing is, when you join Twitter, you have to be prepared to deal with the communications side of it. So if somebody’s got a question, you’ve got to be able to answer it. I think one of the things I’ve noticed quite a few, especially with the UK tele-operators were that if people had complaints, instead of sending a direct message to the consumer to ask for more information, they just gave them an email address which the consumer could then use to complain. It defeats the purpose of using Twitter in the first place.
Josiah: You need to empower the people who are using Twitter to actually resolve situations. I know it can get complex because I’ve talked with a few people at airlines that are managing Twitter accounts and obviously there are some cases where you may be able to point people in the right direction or give them the right direction, in other cases you may have to hand it off to someone in your department. But just handing off a generic customer service email is just really unacceptable. It’s not solving the situation and it doesn’t look like you’re making any effort at all.
Mistake #2 – No identity behind the company
Josiah: One of the other big things was no identity behind the company. I think everyone out there on Twitter is looking for a human connection. They don’t really want to connect with the company, they want to talk with another human being. I’m wondering how we can do that practically especially in the scenario where you have a large company and maybe several people are involved in social media management?
Darren: I think it’s probably a lot more difficult for larger companies if they’ve got a number of people monitoring the account, so I think using initials [to identify which person is replying] is a really good idea.
I can’t think of any companies off the top of my head at the moment but I have seen it where they’ve got a background with pictures of people who are monitoring the account and then their full name and the initials next to it so at least you can actually relate to a human being rather than just text on a screen.
I’ve seen good examples of smaller companies, like Stuart of Around the World Flights. He said that his followers actually increased when he put his photo as his avatar along with the logo of his business.
So there’s definitely advantages to being more personal on Twitter and those are just some of the ways you can do that. What I’ve noticed some people do is they use the SEO keywords that they’re trying to target, so rather than having their business name or personal name, they have a keyword there, “London Hotels”, and that’s not good to see neither.
Josiah: I think I’m guilty of that with @HMarketingHelp as my username – but its a great point and I think the whole idea of creating an identity behind the company, I’ve tried to compensate for that by having a personal background image.
Mistake #3 – Outsourcing Twitter management
Josiah: You made another point in the article about Twitter accounts run by clueless agencies. I would probably go as far as to say it’s impossible to outsource Twitter. You can’t expect someone that’s thousands of miles away to have a really good pulse of the heartbeat of your organization. It just seems disingenuous to me to have a third party trying to be the face of the company. I don’t know how it could work.
Darren: I completely agree. You need somebody who’s actually familiar with the business and somebody who can deal with that query or that piece of advice that somebody’s wanting quickly. What you don’t want to do is to ask a question and then 3 days later somebody responds because by then you’ve probably found the answer yourself.
Josiah: Real time monitoring is so important – even if you have someone who goes in for 5 minutes at a time, 3-4 times a day… because these issues have to resolved within hours or the value of the response is just worthless. Just having a question answered four days from now especially from the real-time travel environment where perhaps I’m sitting at an airport or I’m at a train station and I need an answer right now, I don’t need it four days from now.
Guillame: And thank God there are tools out there now like TweetDeck that help you to be really active to tweets that talk about your brand, or you can also do some free customer service. I always look up to what I have been doing for nearly a year now where I’m trying to help travelers on the go to answer their questions. I think it’s a fantastic way to engage all these people.
Darren: I can add something to that as well. I use a tool called CoTweet (cotweet.com) and that’s really good at monitoring what people are saying and I don’t really monitor the term “Travel Rants” but I also have a new project which is a local guide from my home city of Leeds. What I’ve started to do is if people are asking questions about Leeds hotels, I’m able to assist that person by offering them some suggestions for hotels depending on what they’re wanting to get out of their stay in Leeds. That’s actually helped me generate bookings which in return has also generated revenue. So for local hotels, monitoring that kind of discussion is really useful and can only benefit them.
Josiah: I think that’s even more important than just monitoring the brand name, especially at the local level. You need to be looking for people who are coming to your city and looking for a place to stay or suggestions for activities and things like this. This is what people are tweeting more often than just something about your brand name. But I think that’s important as well so you have to be monitoring both these types of queries.
Which topics should hotels, or any company, avoid completely on Twitter? And how can you maintain authenticity without risking professional credibility and customer relationships?
Hospitality and marketing experts weigh in on what NOT to tweet:
@swimkatieclapp Politics, snarky replies?
@swimkatieclapp the only thing I can say is personal info and stating the obvious
@swimkatieclapp I am ok with all topics that supports a two-way goodwill, porn is off topic
@swimkatieclapp Good question. Hotels shouldn’t tweet about bedbugs, celebrity meltdowns, relocates & bad reviews. Oh, and boring stuff.
@swimkatieclapp hotels should tweet about any topic as long as its not confidential. Tweets should be informative, not just offer driven
Specific topics aside, projecting a positive attitude and sincere respect for customers is the #1 way to tweet freely. If you’re still not sure where to draw the line, check your tweets against these four questions.
1. Would I make this statement to a guest’s face?
It’s easier to drop insensitive or abrasive remarks when we can’t experience their face-to-face consequences, and Twitter amplifies this effect and feelings of anonymity by primarily hosting one-way conversations. Don’t be mistaken. You are communicating with real people: guests, business partners, employers, and journalists.
@sfoley Sorry to hear of your experience. We spoke to the MOD & understand you’ve already spoken to them. DM if we can help during your stay
Not that: Why do families think it’s ok to let kids run wild around the pool?!
2. Would I feel comfortable with my tweet appearing in a respected industry magazine?…
Or on the news? Or on a competitor’s website? Or in a court of law?
The internet is forever. Avoid statements that you can’t publicly endorse and comfortably defend.
Thank you to Westjet’s Up Magazine for recommening Centro as a great accommodation choice in Calgary http://fb.me/yMPH7c22
Not that: We finally have new bathroom tiles & Josiah gets tax-free spending cash Awesome!
3. Does this comment make sense to a first-time visitor?
Remember that context is key; new readers don’t have any. Conduct off-topic conversations through private messages or accounts, and frequently assess your feed with “fresh eyes” to ensure warm, welcoming and inclusive first impressions.
@rgomezsalgado We are in soft-opening mode right now. Expect to be fully opened by mid October.
Not that: @HMarketingHelp burritos after work today??
4. Do I sound like a real person?
Redundant streams of generic offers, phone numbers and bland descriptions will be ignored by potential guests, and waste Twitter’s potential as a communication platform. When appropriate, employ light humor, fun observations, and surprising facts to engage and entertain followers. Through our research, we’ve found this to be the most common misuse of Twitter by businesses.
A little early, I know, but I’m REALLY excited for the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival! http://ow.ly/1gEtw ^S
Follow our featured tweeters for more technology, marketing and hospitality industry tips.
I was talking with a client this morning that was disappointed by the response he received on Twitter when he gave away an importance piece of content. After the announcement, not many people re-tweeted the content. It didn’t go viral immediately.
He needs to retweet this again and again
Just posting information once to Twitter usually isn’t enough. So many messages go through the Twitter stream that it’s easy for your followers to miss it.
I’d recommend he re-tweet this piece of information a couple times each week – but at different days and times. This way, he’s reaching the broadest audience possible across different time zones.
We’ve all seen Twitter users that get too carried away with this – posting the same thing 20+ times each week. So this advice needs to be taken with moderation, but….
What information should you be retweeting?
[image credit: TheNextWeb]
Mashable put together a nice article with some tips for managing your brand identity on the web. The most important advice in my mind was…
Let someone else say it
This was especially helpful:
[Starbucks] Product Manager Brad Nelson is often the genius behind the company’s online and social media initiatives, he’s also the primary person behind the brand’s very popular Twitter account. Much of his day-to-day responsibilities involve online brand management, and as such he’s learned that sometimes the best way to say something on the social web is to, “have someone else say it.”
Nelson advises other brands to take the same course of action. “If you can find a tweet, photo or blog post that says what you’re trying to say then use that instead of writing it yourself. It does a couple of great things. Your readers will see it as an external validator, so they’ll be more likely to respond than they would if it was a billboard on the side of the road. It also makes the original author happy. Everyone wants to see their content get exposure.”
In fact, Nelson says that he tries to “find things to retweet every day.”
Find something to retweet every day
Of course retweeting is where you find something someone said on Twitter, and pass it along to the people following you.
It’s so powerful because you’re letting someone else do the talking. It’s more credible.
My retweeting opportunity
A few weeks ago, my story on Craigslist founder Craig Newmark was retweeted by Craig and Robert Scoble – some of the most powerful people in technology.
Retweeting their retweets served this function. If Newmark and Scoble liked the story, others probably will as well.
And they did – I received hundreds of new readers from this single tweet.
So today – and every day – go out there and try to find something to retweet.
I love how That INDIE Dude includes Twitter into his site design:
This is so much more compelling than the standard “Follow us on Twitter” button. Or even this site, for that matter.
What if you created a similar illustration for your social media ambassador?
Or had your hotel mascot tweeting out one message at a time like this?
Or created a separate one-page website on its own domain to encourage your Twitter following?
I’d like to see more creative Twitter integrations like this. Mashable has some more examples.
In today’s interview, I talk with Steve Lambert, General Manager of the Radisson Nashua Hotel. We discussed the practical details and day-to-day skills for using Twitter successfully, including:
- How they took advantage of a renovation and rebranding to launch their social media activity
- What types of content work best with Twitter
- How to gather stories for sharing online
- The system Steve built on his iPhone for capturing ideas as he finds them
- Does syncing Twitter and Facebook updates automatically work well?
- The metrics important to Steve
- How he attracts new followers
- Criteria for deciding who you should follow and interact with
- How to stay on topic while at the same time maintaining diversity in your updates
- Who in the hotel should be managing Twitter and your social media marketing
- How Steve involves his whole team in the process
- What’s next in social media
Bonus: The Twitter tools that Steve uses
Steve mentioned some of these tools in the interview – you may want to check them out for your own use:
Not many people in the hotel industry know this, but my very first venture was an RSS software company. I saw RSS as the direct distribution channel of the future, but it turned out Twitter largely fills this purpose.
You don’t have to be a Twitter power user to set up searches and lists that provide you with a customized flow of information and content. This was the vision of RSS, and I’m pleased to see this come true – even if through a different technology.