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Hilton blends corporate strategy with brand expertise for social media

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PHILADELPHIA - Hilton Worldwide employs a single social media strategist whose job it is to convey the latest intelligence from different platforms to each of its 11 hotel brands, but each brand maintains its own voice and often relies on individual hotels to supply content.

Other companies using a similar strategy include Hotels.com, which also employs a single social media strategist while social media teams around the world operate independently. Having a central resource for social media intelligence to stay on top of the trending platforms and the latest technologies helps these companies focus on the customer communications aspects of their social media efforts. 

“We are one of 11 brands at Hilton Worldwide, and we have one social strategist for everyone,” said Diana Plazas, director of global brand marketing at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel chain. “We then work with our own customer service team directly so that they speak with the right voice for the brand. 

“Each brand has a its own different team, but our social media strategist is able to provide us with the point of view of what’s going on out there.”

Plazas spoke Monday at the Social Media, Social Commerce & Engagement Summit at eTail East 2014 in Philadelphia. She was part of a panel called “Analyzing Social Platforms to Reach Your Target Customers.” 

Local content 
DoubleTree found that its individual hotel locations have often been valuable sources for content to post on social media. When the chain first tried to launch a Pinterest campaign, for example, it turned to the hotels themselves to provide photos of their local beaches and pictures of sunsets as seen from the hotels. 

“It was about reaching out to all the properties, and asking for content, then curating it, and then putting the pictures up on Pinterest,” Ms. Plazas said. 

She said that many of the individual hotels in the chain had launched their own social media accounts before the company began taking a more comprehensive approach to social media. Hilton eventually stepped in with a more over-arching plan that provides support to the individual brands, which in turn work closely with the individual locations to provide social media communications with customers. 

Hilton itself has been very supportive of social media and recognizes its value in the travel industry, where word-of-mouth and photo-sharing are of paramount importance to customers and to the company’s overall marketing strategies, Ms. Plazas said. 

Left to right: Julia Quinn of Amtrak; Matz Lukmani of MediaCom; Taylor Cole, Hotels.com; Sharad Verma, Piqora; Diana Plazas, Hilton, and Jessica Woodbury, Alex and Ani.

Like Hilton, Hotels.com also has a social media strategist whose job it is to stay on top of the latest social media trends and relay that information back to the social media and customer service teams, said Taylor Cole, director of public relations and social media at Hotels.com. 

“We have group of key people who meet once a week,” she said. “We also have social strategist who is looking at things like new platforms.” 

She said the company invested a lot of time and effort into determining how to measure success on social media, and what those metrics should be. 

One of the key learnings for Hotels.com was that that many of the issues that arise on social media need to be directed to customer service. At the customer service call center, Hotels.com has people who are trained to respond in the language of the caller and who can work in local currencies, which is a skill the social media team itself does not have. 

Integrating customer service with social media was also important for Amtrak, said Julia Quinn, director of social media at Amtrak.

She said the company’s social media team was able to demonstrate to corporate leadership that social media should be a part of the customer service team’s repertoire. 

“We have 25 agents at our two call centers who are trained to search and respond on social media,” Ms. Quinn said. “We showed that social media is really part of customer service, and we were able to loop them in.” 

Final Take 

Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Marketer, New York

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Related content: Social networks, Hilton, Doubletree, Diana Plazas, Hotels, Amtrak, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, social media

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