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March 7th, 2013

#smwHospitality

It’s often said that your most important customers are the ones you already have. So how can brands retain and reward loyal fans online? Utilize brand ambassadors to help spread their message? Turn negative reviews into proactive opportunities to improve their business? In honor of Social Media Week, DMI (with help from the always entertaining and insightful Shashi Bellamkonda) gathered a rockstar group of experts to share their approach to building a positive hospitality brand online.

The event, held at The Hamilton’s Live venue, attracted more than 100 of the area’s top social influencers and sparked a lively conversation online (see what others had to say). If you weren’t able to join us, we’re sorry we missed you, but we’ve put together key takeaways, a video and photos from the event. So enjoy and hopefully we’ll catch you at the next one!

1. Negative reviews can be proactive opportunities to improve your business.

It’s easy to get discouraged when you receive a negative review online, but reviews are actually a great way to keep a pulse on the conversation about your brand and identify areas within your business that may need correcting. It’s important to consider the context of the review and understand the root of the dissatisfaction rather than react to the tone. The best advice is to treat negative reviews online as you would if they were in-person at one of your establishments: address it appropriately and take steps to correct the situation moving forward.

– Tara Lewis (Regional Director of Marketing, Yelp) and Chef Luigi Diotaiuti (Chef/Owner, Al Tiramisu)

2. Contests and giveaways are not the silver bullet.

A lot of people enter into contests or giveaways without a clear purpose. First and foremost, what is your objective? Are you trying to engage existing customers, generate new leads, etc.? Identifying your target audience and the most effective channels to reach them are critical components of your strategy. But don’t just assume if you build it they will come. A successful contest or giveaway requires three key components: a paid media plan to generate awareness, engaging content to drive participation and a strategy to authentically encourage sharing.

– Laura Wilson (Social Media Manager, Hilton Hotels & Resorts)

3. Consumers demand customer service via social.

It used to be said that customers would vote with their feet. Repeat bookings and return visits meant hospitality brands were doing a good job. Now with the proliferation of the internet and social media, there are so many opportunities for consumers to let brands know about their experience. Whereas only a few years ago it was seen as a novelty for hospitality brands to respond to customer service inquiries via social, now it’s expected. 1 in 3 people would prefer to get customer service through a social media channel rather than over the phone The reason? Ease and convenience – social media allows for immediate access.

– Katy Adams (Marketing Manager, Clyde’s Restaurant Group)

4. Engagement is not a goal.

Engagement, followers and likes are metrics, not goals. Goals include items like improved search engine rankings, more traffic to your website, a change in sentiment, etc. that ultimately lead to more reservations, bookings and sales. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of your social strategy, it’s important to distinguish between goals and metrics.

– Lisa Byrne (Social Strategist, DMI)

5. Consumers buy for emotion.

It’s important for brands to recognize their unique value proposition and deliver on the experience customers have come to expect from them. For example, Disney sells memories. Nike sells performance. Consumers buy for emotion above everything else – whether it’s saving time, getting better quality, etc. So it’s important to figure out what you’re selling, maintain a consistent brand image and create content accordingly.

– Monica Bhide (Food, Culture and Lifestyle Writer)

To see more photos from the event, check out the album on Facebook.

Tags: Brand Marketing Content Marketing Social media

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