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!