Hotel brands and social media: Leading and following at the same time?

If you want to see an industry that’s using social media to best advantage, you needn’t look any further than the hotel trade.

hotels on FBMore than any other industry segment, hotel brands seem to have gotten a very good handle on the whole “local/global” concept.

Hotel properties that are part of a large chain or group originate from the main brand, of course.  And yet, the nature of the business means that they are individual entities as well, across the country and around the world.

For this reason, many local hotels that are part of larger chains have established their own individual social profiles.  That’s turned out to be a great way to attract more consumer engagement compared to social pages that are focused on global hotel branding.

Moreover, the social profiles of hotel properties are the perfect vehicle for promoting programs aimed at generating more bookings via local special offers, vacation deals and the like.

Recently, social media analytics firm Socialbakers researched some of the world’s largest hotel brand groups to determine the extent of their social media presence by looking at the seven most important platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest and LinkedIn).

hilton logoAs it turns out, seven hotel brand groups have at least 1,000 separate social profiles on these platforms.  In the case of Hilton, it’s nearly 2,000:

  • Hilton Worldwide: ~1,850 separate profiles across the top seven social networks
  • InterContinental Hotels Group:  ~1,550 profiles
  • Marriott International:  ~1,300
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide: ~1,250
  • Wyndham Hotel Group: ~1,250
  • Accor: ~1,200
  • Best Western International:  ~1,000

In looking deeper at the extent of the social profiles these giant brands, Socialbakers found some interesting details that may point to certain individual strategic differences.  Among the findings were these:

.  Facebook is the most popular social platform for everyone – no question – with at least 50% of each brands’ social profiles housed there.

.  Twitter is the next most popular network, with profiles there representing between 20% and 40% of all social profiles for each brand.

.  Starwood Hotels and Accor are somewhat less Facebook-centric than the others – and they also have a more significant presence on Instagram and LinkedIn than the other brands.

.  Pinterest appears to be the least attractive major social platform for individual hotel profiles.

.  Hilton and Marriott have the largest number of social profiles in North America. 

It would seem that the big hotel brands are both leading and following when it comes to their social media presence.

While they may be ahead of the curve compared to many other industries, they are also following the lead of their own consumers – so many of whom rely on conducting their own online research and consulting user reviews to determine where they want to stay – not to mention the best room rates and deals they can find in order to do so.

How about you?  Like me, do you follow certain individual hotel properties on social media, or instead do you focus on hotel brands more broadly?  Please share your perspectives with other readers here.

Charting Social Media’s “Maturity Continuum”

Social Media lineupAs social media has crept more and more into the fabric of life for so many people, it’s only natural that social scientists and marketers are thinking about the wider implications.

One of these thinkers is someone whose viewpoints I respect a good deal.  Social media and online/search über-strategist Gord Hotchkiss has come up with a way of looking at social media vehicles that he dubs the “Maturity Continuum.”

According to Hotchkiss, the Maturity Continuum is made up of four levels of increasing social media “stickiness” — meaning how relevant and important the social platforms are to people’s daily lives and routines.

Specifically, these four levels are:

The Fad Phase — This is when people start using a social media platform because it’s the bright shiny thing … and “everyone else” in their circle is doing so, too.  This dynamic is commonly found among early adopters — you know, the folks who try out new things because … they’re new.

Gord Hotchkiss
Gord Hotchkiss

Of course, early adopters don’t necessarily stick around.  A new social platform has to have some sort of “there there” – to deliver some measure of functional benefit – or else it won’t keep fad users around for long.

Also important at this early stage is the aspect of uniqueness and novelty — which is always important among this group of people who tend to be higher on the ego and narcissism scale.

Making a Statement — If a social platform makes it through the pure novelty gauntlet, it continues to be used because it makes a statement about the user.  In the case of social media, it’s often as much about the technology as it is the functionality.

Thinking about a platform like FourSquare, here you have social tool that’s probably at this level of maturity.  With FourSquare, there may be a few utilitarian reasons for using it — getting vouchers or other “free stuff” from restaurants and bars — but it’s probably a lot more about “making that statement.”

A Useful Tool — At this point on the Maturity Continuum, here’s where a social platform breaks into a more practical realm.  Going beyond the novelty and ego aspects, users find that the platform is a highly beneficial tool from a functionality standpoint — perhaps better than any other one out there for facilitating certain activities.

Thinking about a social platform like LinkedIn in this context, it’s easy to see how that particular one has done so well.

A Platform of Choice — This is the highest level of social media maturity, where users engage — and continue to engage — with a social platform because they have become so familiar with it.

At this level, it becomes quite a challenge to dislodge a social platform, even if “newer, better” choices come along.  Once social habits have become established and a large critical mass of users is established, it can be very difficult to change the behavior.

Facebook is “Exhibit A” in this regard:  Despite near-weekly reports of issues and controversies about the platform, people continue to hang in there with it.

Thinking about other social platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, SnapChat and Pinterest, it’s interesting to speculate on where they currently fall on the “maturity meter.”

I’d venture to say that YouTube has made it to the highest level … SnapChat is still residing in the early “fad” stage … while Pinterest and Instagram are transitioning between “making a statement” and being “a useful tool.”

Where Twitter resides … is anyone’s guess.  I for one am still wondering just how Twitter fits into the greater scheme of social — and how truly “consequential” it is in the fabric of most people’s social lives.

What are your perspectives on the Maturity Continuum in social media?  If you have opinions one way or the other about the long-term staying power of certain platforms, please share them with other readers here.

A Game-Changer for Charitable Organizations and Causes?

Jumo, a social network focused on charities.Chris Hughes
Jumo, the newest social network focused on charities and social activism.
There’s a new international social media resource being launched. Jumo, which was unveiled this past week in a beta test version, aims to connect people with not-for-profit causes and charitable organizations.

Established in February 2010, Jumo describes itself as “a social network connecting individuals and organizations who want to change the world.”

The founder of Jumo is Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook who more recently served as director of online organizing for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. He sees Jumo as a way for people to find and evaluate organizations that focus on the causes that interest them. Such organizations can range all the way from health and educational initiatives to ones dealing with advocacy issues such as gay rights.

News articles, YouTube videos, Twitter posts and other content will be added to Jumo pages, and users can also add their own comments and feedback.

What’s the inspiration behind Jumo? It’s to establish a social platform focusing on issues, advocacy and not-for-profit organizations rather than on personalities or branded products. “The more connected [an] individual is to an issue they care about, the higher probability there is they will stay involved over a longer period of time,” Hughes has stated.

As part of establishing its mission, Jumo has outlined the following three key factors:

 Millions of people are working to improve the lives of others, many of whom lack the resources to have major impact.

 There are millions of other people who would want to help, but don’t know how.

 Despite where we are with technology, it’s still difficult to find meaningful opportunities to get involved.

Jumo provides a platform wherein people can discover the type of causes and organizations they care about, follow the latest news and updates in those fields, and support the work of these organizations through the donation of skills, time or financial support.

In Hughes’ view, this is what differentiates Jumo from social media platforms such as Facebook, which also allows the creation of pages for non-profit groups. Facebook’s groups tend to be passive, with many an individual’s interaction going little beyond “following” or “liking” them.

Hughes believes there will be significantly more volunteering and giving associated with the people who interact with organizations on Jumo. And if that happens, it may finally fulfill the promise of online platforms enabling not-for-profits to raise money more efficiently and less expensively than via traditional means.

That’s a goal that has been stubbornly elusive to date, as only about 5% of all U.S. donations come from online giving, according to the Blackbaud Index of Online Giving.

How does Jumo intend to grow and thrive in the online world? As a not-for-profit initiative itself, it plans to rely on payments from users and sponsorships from groups that would like to receive more highly visible promotion on the site.

Jumo already contains ~3,000 charitable organizations and issues-oriented groups which have been “seeded” on the site. But any organization that is certified as “tax exempt” is eligible to set up a page on Jumo.

Is Jumo destined to transform social activism? Only time will tell … but it will be interesting to see how this interesting new venture evolves and grows in the coming months.