We talk a lot here about social media and all the different ways small business owners can leverage it to attract an audience, stake their claim, and, ultimately, grow a better business. To further the conversation, we’ll be starting a new series here on the BizSugar blog where we reach out to small business owners (and even some big brands!) to hear about how they’re using social media and what advice they have for other businesses and brands just getting started.
Our first interview comes from Adam Wallace, the Director of Digital Marketing at the Roger Smith Hotel. The Roger Smith Hotel has been nicknamed “the social media hotel” (which we get Adam’s thoughts on!) due to its proficient use of platforms like Facebook and Twitter. We were lucky enough to grab a few minutes with Adam to hear about why the Roger Smith Hotel became involved in social media, what they’ve learned, and what advice they have for others.
Let’s hear from Adam.
1. Can you tell us a bit about how the Roger Smith Hotel became involved in social media? Did you develop a strategy beforehand or did you just jump in and think about it later?
I would say that our social media program at the Roger Smith Hotel started in 2006 with a video based website that we built called Roger Smith News. This project brought a new element to the marketing of the hotel that was not focused on product, but rather stories and identity. From this we built a network on Facebook and Twitter, which allowed us to communicate directly with current and potential customers and provided a venue for others to share stories from our hotel. Being a small business we have an opportunity to act quickly and try many things to see what works. This ability to be nimble is also combined with regular discussions.
2. What are you using to track the effectiveness of your involvement in social media? What kinds of metrics are you looking at – brand awareness, bookings that use special social media discount links, etc?
We have various metrics that we report every month to measure the effectiveness of the program, the main one that everyone wants to know is if and how we are tracking revenue. We use a promo code for 10% off rooms for people we are connected with online and we have seen substantial sales come through this code. We also keep track of events that are booked with us through people that we are connected to online. We also report on exposure numbers, the basic numbers being hits and pages views on our blog and our website as well as the size of our following on Twitter and Facebook.
3. You’ve been dubbed “the social media hotel” by many key influencers, but what do you want to be known for? What brand image are (and the others) trying to create for the Roger Smith Hotel?
The name as “the social media hotel” is not one that we sat around and came up with, but it was our commitment to social media both through online engagement and offline events and networking here at the hotel that lead people to give us this name. As for our brand image, we do not follow a static image but I would like to think that people see us as a friendly and comfortable place in the heart of the big city that is committed to relationships with in many communities.
4. The Roger Smith Hotel is different in that it’s not a person in social media, it’s a location. That’s something many SMB owners can relate to. How does that affect your social media strategy or goals?
The fact that we are a location has been crucial to our strategy and success in social media. People coming to us for events, our restaurant and rooms has been a large driver of word of mouth about our business. This word of mouth spreads both through user generated content (pictures and videos) that are created here, through people checking in on geo location applications and through general talk about being here on Twitter and Facebook. The internet has made it much more efficient for people to hear about our small business.
5. What has your involvement in social media taught you about your customers, or even business itself? Has it made you a smarter/better business?
Social media has allowed us to have much more direct interaction with current customers and potential customers than ever before. This has certainly taught us something about our customers and has also lead to great customer loyalty amongst those that we are connected to online. We have also learned that our online presence and reputation in really a direct reflection of the in person experience that our customers have. This means that our online success and reputation is just as much a reflection of the service that our front desk staff or server gives as it is about what customers we talk to on Twitter. Because people share there experiences online it is important that everyone is aware of the stage that they are on (and this can improve our business).
6. Lastly, what are your key takeaways for small business owners using social media to grow their business? If there were three things you could stress, what would they be?
- You don’t need to reach millions of people to be successful, communicate directly and publicly with your customers and potential customers and this will scale out to impact your business.
- Focus on relationships with niche communities, “everyone” is not an audience.
- Be human, personal and open as a business.
Thanks so much to Adam for taking the time to chat with us. Can you relate to his experience? What are your big social media takeaways?