Personalizing Social Media Programs – Generating True Interaction

What do big brands making successful use of social media channels like giants GM, JetBlue and Kenmore have in common with the Roger Smith Hotel (a small arts hotel in New York) and Ramon DeLeon (a Chicago-based owner of six Domino’s Pizza stores)?  The answer: all have built successful social media presences that deliver genuine business results – and all have mastered the art of interacting individually with members of their audience.

The interactions begin universally with the folks behind the brand handles on Twitter and the accounts on Facebook, who pay close attention to what their online followers and friends are saying – and respond in person.

“I’m building relationships on Twitter all day,”says Richard Goldsmith of Kenmore, and the voice behind @kenmoreconnects on Twitter.

Adam Wallace (@adwal) of the Roger Smith Hotel agrees in principle.  “It’s so important to remember that the in-person connection and relationships drive the online activity.  People talk about personal experience. All the stuff that happens in person is central to their online activity – it’s not in a vacuum.”

In all cases, the social media pros behind these brands recognize that their audiences are made up of individual people, and one-to-one contact is a key part of their social media outreach.  So how do they do it?  By responding in person to individual members of their audiences.

Representatives from JetBlue (@JetBlue) will meet and greet fliers at JFK, while the team from the Roger Smith Hotel (@RSHotel) will arrange to meet guests when they arrive at the hotel.   The GM makes an effort to get their social media team members to events,  in order to meet and interact with customers.

To boil it down, people need to experience your brand, and your audience needs to experience your people.

“If you’re not going to engage, you shouldn’t be in social media,” says Domino’s Pizza’s Ramon DeLeon (@Ramon_DeLeon, #RamonWOW), who has built a tremendous following – and boosted sales for his stores – with his active and enthusiastic use of social media.

The common reaction many have when hearing about these hands-on approaches is that the required investment in time really isn’t feasible.  But when you hear about the business results produced by high-touch social media programs, you might change your mind.

The Roger Smith Hotel has seen “great results,” according to Wallace.  All three of the property’s revenue streams – events, the restaurant, and rooms – has been positively impacted, and is trackable by promo codes on Twitter, blogs and other networks.  “The revenue is substantial.”

JetBlue has seen spectacular success with their popular “All You Can Jet” promotion, which the company has publicized twice simply with a press release and a tweet.  Conversations thrived under the #AYCJ hashtag, with JetBlue staff facilitating in-person meetings with #AYCJ fliers.

The company was able to cancel a substantial advertising campaign within the first days of the original All You Can Jet promotion, due to the massive social media buzz and nationwide news coverage. “Advertising would have been pointless,” said JetBlue’s Morgan Johnston (@MHJohnston).  “No amount of advertising can trump national news coverage.”

A good analogy for the benefits a high-tough social media program can generate are the $1 pizza promotions DeLeon runs every now and then.  “I don’t make any money on a $1 pizza, “ he says. “But I do on the conversations the $1 pizza generates.”

Authored by Sarah Skerik, VP social media, PR Newswire

Image courtesy of Intersection Consulting via Flickr Creative Commons

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