I originally started in my last position when I work for Godiva chocolatier in 2009 where I was in charge of North American communications, strategy and implementation. I worked across all communication mediums and during my time there social media became more prominent. Through a specific partnership we had at the time we felt like it was a great opportunity to really launch a social presence and eventually develop a social media strategy. So this was my launching pad and I became so interested in it and wanted it to become the focus of my career which is how I ended up at Loews-Hotels.

2) What do you believe the benefits of using social media for business?

Looking through a Loews lens specifically we tend to be a bit of a smaller brand, we’re really going up against some major companies in the hotel industry like Marriott and Hilton. So from that perspective, I think social media can provide a great platform to push forth a consistent marketing message and really reach your target in a fiscally responsible way, but also maintaining that conversation on a regular basis. For example, consumers may notice print ads just once or twice a year. Whereas with social it’s really a daily mechanism for us to keep in touch with our consumers and make sure they are thinking of Loews when the opportunity for travel arises.

3) What do you think are common mistakes business owners make when building brand awareness on social media?

I feel the biggest issue in general is not really having a specific game plan or associated strategy to reach your end goal. So what I try to do at Loews is to really make it as linear as possible, not only for the people at corporate to understand but also at each of our properties. It’s important to demonstrate how we want to use the device to reach our end goal to drive awareness for the hotel brand and the individual properties. At the same time ensuring we have specific metrics that we are trying to hit on a quarterly basis. We want our brand to always be at the top of our customers’ minds, but we aren’t necessary just going there to throw a different message up on the screen. Our messaging is very specific to our brand and who we want to be and how we want to interact with our consumers. I think the biggest mistake is not having that forethought and strategic lens on social.

4) What qualities do you think social media managers should have?

That’s a really good question. As we have grown in our social space, we’ve been able to hire some social media managers at several properties and the conversation is always really interesting about what the key things we are looking for in those individuals. From my stand point it’s a really intense job because you have to balance input from different roles across the company.

So when I came here the majority of social was being handled by corporate relations, however I believe there needs to be collaboration with PR and social. One role is really positioned to have a pretty scripted message from the brand, and from the social perspective, the individual needs to understand the scripted message and be able to present it in a very authentic, consumable fashion. So you’re kind of removing a little bit of that branded element when you’re speaking on social as you need to fit in with the other dialogue that is appearing on people’s news feeds to catch their attention. It’s an interesting role where someone has to be willing to do a lot of the nitty gritty – so going out and capturing photos, building a content calendar as well as analysing the data to fine tune the plan for the future. Plus having that authentic approachable voice.

5) How do Business owners know if their social media campaign is working?

For our actual campaigns we do set some pretty strict metrics upfront, just so we know how we are performing during a non-campaign time on social media. Then we identify which of our key performance indicators we want to really hit hard with a specific campaign and what we want to achieve with those. Then we measure during the campaign. It’s not a communication medium, where you can just set it and forget it – you have to measure and monitor constantly throughout that campaign and make sure you are maximizing your dollars and optimizing the message throughout. Making sure at the end you actually pull together a final recap to look at what worked and what didn’t is critical for long-term success. From my specific situation where we have a brand layer and property layer it’s also really important to share that information throughout the company.

6) If you could share one best practice about using social media to grow a business, what would it be?

Probably the most influential thing we have done to date is launch Twitter Reservations. We’re the first hotel in the market to enable customers to book via Twitter. Our travel planners who sit at the Loews reservation centre help us to be able to run that program on a daily basis by monitoring Twitter for conversations where people are either seeking us out to book through our program, or seeking out the conversations that don’t necessarily have Lowes incorporated mentioned but there might be a proactive opportunity to sell our properties. This helps the consumer transact in a very seamless way on social. I think it ties in really well with customer service making sure we are responding in a quick and approachable manner. I always tend to sign off tweets in regards to a customer service issue with my name, showing there is a person on the other side, who is aware of your issue and is doing what they can to resolve it quickly. I find that the frustration decreases as soon as a consumer sees the follow up tweet from the brand.

 

7) What are your favourite platforms for social media marketing?

Our brand has probably focused mainly on Facebook in the last year, and we’ve also utilised the creative uses of Twitter with reservations and customer service. We feel like we have the most potential for growth and creativity to reach our target market with Instagram, and it’s a platform that we are really looking to grow in 2015.

Vishal Pindoriya

Vishal Pindoriya is a social media enthusiast, strategist and writer. He lives in London, England and is particularly interested in the proliferation of social media around the world.

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