[quote]Even if you create a video and there are 10k who organically watch it - it’s such an immersive experience compared to a banner ad or a press release or even a Facebook post.[/quote]

What does it look like when a company uses social media to reward happy customers, rather than encouraging its critics to broadcast complaints? Or when it focuses more on social business rather than media? This is Dan Moriarty’s, director of digital strategy at Hyatt Hotels, philosophy around social business that he’s developed over the years working at Mediaedge in London and Resolution Media (across clients like Nintendo, Monster and Bank of America) before joining Hyatt in 2011. In2 talked to him about what it takes for a brand to understand social’s power beyond influencer relations. [caption id="attachment_2169" align="alignright" width="150"]Dan Moriarty Dan Moriarty[/caption]

In2: What does it ultimately mean for a company to be focused on social business rather than social media?

Dan Moriarty: The way we think of social media is within social business. When you focus just on social media, it’s all about content creation and consumer content. The way we look at social is three aspects: content creation; consumer behavior especially because we’re an experiential brand; and also to help us internally. For instance, digital darwinism is when your consumers are moving faster on digital than you are. The issue with social media is that it focuses too much on the first point.

In2: How do you use social to amplify an offline experience that customers are having?  

DM: For example, on Valentines Day, whenever someone checked into a Hyatt or posted something romantic that was Hyatt-related, we offered them champagne or gave upgrades. This made people realize that brands will respond to positive behavior, which is counter to what a lot of brands do where they train people only to talk about negative experiences.

In2: You’re right, historically brands have trained customers to use social channels to vent and to be rewarded for doing that. How do you convince management that customers who are already happy with your brand need extra attention, instead of those threatening to take their business elsewhere?

DM: It takes a strong backbone and belief in social business to do something with the positive stuff. With the negative stuff, it’s easy to make the case for responding. But with the positive, people do think — they’re already having a positive experience. Why should we do anything else?

Yet, it’s more expensive to give an unhappy customer a free night compared to the relatively small things to enhance a [happy customer’s] stay. And people who use Twitter and other channels love when brands do things for them unexpectedly.

For example, we have complimentary flavored water in the lobby and someone staying at a property happened to take a picture of this and posted on Instagram that her favorite flavor is pineapple and strawberry. The social team saw this and contacted the hotel and the next day, they put out pineapple and strawberry water.

When responding to a positive thing, you can respond in a relatively inexpensive way. The gesture just has to be personal. Whereas, with a negative complaint, the only option is really a do-over.

[caption id="attachment_2179" align="alignright" width="300"]Photo from Hyatt's Instagram page Customer photo from Hyatt's Instagram page[/caption]

In2: Hotels tend to have varied ownership models, so how do you centralize a social team across all properties?

DM: We have three different ownership models: owned properties; managed properties; and franchises. We have more managed and owned properties, which makes it a little easier.

So, the social media team we have is centralized and localized. Each property has one or more people internally to handle its social channels. But hotel staffs also tend to be lean, so the central team will make sure we’re capturing and responding as well. Sometimes we’ll call the hotel and they’re not able to do something, other times they love our idea and will go above and beyond it.

For example, a man who was traveling on business while his pregnant wife had a sonogram posted a picture of a sonogram from his hotel. We just flagged it and the local hotel wanted to do more. They sent him a “mancare package” with craft beers and snacks as a congratulations.

In2: Having this commitment towards going above and beyond must come from the top-down?

DM: Yes, we call it “Hyatt thinking” and it’s basically design thinking. It basically comes down to empathy, listening and making service personalized based on needs of guests rather than perceived needs. It’s not been us pushing it, it’s the company as a whole.

In2: How do you strike a balance between focusing on influencers and regular customers?

DM: Here’s my stance: on any given night, we have hundred and thousands of people staying with us. If you pay someone, like an influencer, to do something people aren’t going to pay as much attention. There is value in paid influence, if it’s from people already staying at a property. And our goal is ultimately authenticity. So for us, we do use paid influencers but how we also look to encourage behaviors of people that benefit our property.

In2: You’re a big believer in using video to tell emotive stories, but the biggest challenge to that is the terrible video experience on mobile right now. What’s Hyatt’s approach to video?

DM: Yes, I’m very pro-video. I do think the hardest thing is mobile devices. Right now watching most videos on your phone is painful. But we’ve done a decent amount of video from surprising and delighting people at the Grand Hyatt New York when we announced our partnership with MGM resorts. We did a bunch of experiential videos around #InAHyattWorld and Hyatt Place did some non-traditional video adverts.

Of course, the number of times you hit a homerun is limited. But you think about the massive amount of money people spend on TV ads. So even if you create a video and there are 10k who organically watch it - it’s such an immersive experience compared to a banner ad or a press release or even a Facebook post. It’s really hard to beat video for being emotive and capturing  the essence of the brand. An people’s tolerance of bad content - especially bad video - is at an all-time low.

In2: How are you responding to Facebook’s new brand algorithm that limits a brand’s exposure unless they pay?

DM: Is Facebook still an effective platform for reach? The answer is no and if you have a million fans the average burn-rate is 1.5%. If you had an email newsletter with a 1.5% open-rate, you would consider that an issue.

We as a brand are not going to walk away from Facebook, but we’ve diversified the platforms we’re paying attention to. There’s significant upside to Twitter or Instagram because of the potential it has to be seen by all of our followers. We’re by no means walking away from Facebook, but are spending more time, actions and resources on platforms that are more open and brand-friendly.

Facebook does have the most sophisticated ads and targeting, so you almost have to look at them like a media partner. They are just a place to show ads. Facebook’s best practices are moving away from organic content and more towards testing ad copy against difference audiences and targeting.