When creating the coming year’s marketing plan, the ever expanding presence of social media platforms must enter the discussion. Specifically, the role of the Social Media Manager and what the ideal candidate should look like. Are you going to hire these services out to a third-party company that will manage these platforms on your behalf? Will this be a junior or senior position? These questions and more are addressed by Julie Lepp, Director of Marketing for White Oaks Resort in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, in a recent HotelExecutive.com article.
The current trend seems to be heading towards companies bringing on a social media manager as a junior position, typically a new graduate satisfied with a lower pay scale and very familiar with the various platforms. You’ll be able to take care of what you perceive as more pressing marketing tasks knowing that the social media issue is under control.
The Voice of Your Brand
You should take into consideration that the voice in the conversation between guest and hotel should be warm and welcoming, presenting a friendly place to do business. Is it right to trust the voice of the brand, with the potential to reach the entire world, to a new hire right out of school who has little to no experience with your hotel, customer service and the way you handle complaints?
Customer comment cards need to be taken very seriously in the travel industry. They are an indirect way of having a conversation with your guests which may lead to return business in the future. Print comment cards are still circulated to guests throughout their stay, but your new social media manager may, in a sense, be conducting online comment cards on a daily basis in the form of tweets, reviews and social media posts.
Because the return on investment is perceived to be low from social media, there has been some hesitance to hire Social Media Managers as key strategists in the hospitality industry. The position is handed off to a junior person to simply manage. The potential for a PR disaster with so little control or supervision is unprecedented.
The Social Media/Customer Service Relationship
Customer service is the cornerstone of the travel space, and social media should be seen as an extension of good customer service rather than some ambiguous marketing element that produces little ROI. Conversations on social media platforms include anecdotes about the excitement of arrival to your property, disappointment in something that has gone wrong and even promoting the brand. Because of this, the main criteria for managing your social brand is not just being familiar with these platforms, but having a strong understanding of the strategic plan for your company. How, when and what you post, and how you respond to guest posts, should all reflect the company’s position, beliefs and goals.
Lepp points out that the argument can be made that a person interacting daily with your customers, who is directly affecting your sales and presentation to the world, should be a senior experienced member of your team. At the same time, no experienced marketer is going to take on social media management for a junior salary, or be seen to be taking a step backward in their career development.
Until social media is seen and understood as a flexible marketing and communication tool as well as an extension of the customer service standards, little will change. So you may just continue to see “Sally from the front desk” tweeting and posting away on behalf of major brands, composing whatever Sally dreams up that day.